Thursday, August 16, 2018

Nuclear free and independent Pacific - how the zone began 33 years ago and what now?

 

From Pacific Media Watch


RADIO 531pi Breakfast Talanoa host Ma'a Brian Sagala has talked about the Rarotonga Treaty with Café Pacific publisher David Robie.
It was hugely significant for the Pacific. It was sort of like a threshold for the Pacific really standing up to the big powers and predated New Zealand’s nuclear-free law.
It was a huge step forward. It was not only a declaration against France, which was detonating nuclear weapons at the time, but also against the US and Britain that had also conducted many nuclear tests in the Pacific.
The South Pacific Nuclear Free Pacific Zone Treaty 33 years ago ushered in a radical era for the Pacific, which predated NZ’s own nuclear-free law.

The Treaty of Rarotonga formalise the Pacific nuclear-free zone on 6 August 1985 and New Zealand's own New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act followed two years later on 8 June 1987.

David also talks about the Rainbow Warrior’s humanitarian voyage to Rongelap to help the islanders move to another home across the Pacific Ocean. He is the author of the book Eyes of Fire about nuclear testing in the Pacific.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

‘Blacklisted’ Australian researcher detained in Indonesian airport

Researcher Belinda Lopez ... detained by Indonesian authorities in Bali's Denpasar airport.
Image: Belinda Lopez/FB
From Pacific Media Watch

AN Australian-based doctoral media researcher says she has been “blacklisted” by Indonesian authorities and refused entry to the country while embarking on a holiday in Bali.

Belinda Lopez, based at Sydney’s Macquarie University and who has researched human rights and other issues in Indonesia, says she is being detained in a room at Denpasar’s Ngurah Rai International Airport and she will have been held for 24 hours before being deported on a flight at 10pm tonight.

READ MORE: Australian student barred from Indonesia

A former journalist, she is doing a doctorate in Indonesian studies.

She was travelling to Bali, Jakarta and the Baliem cultural festival in Papua.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Contrasting accounts of Indonesian genocide and betrayal in West Papua


A local chief in red sunglasses and bra talks to his people about the dangers
of Indonesian administration plans for Okika region. Image: Peter Bang

BOOK REVIEW: By David Robie

TWO damning and contrasting books about Indonesian colonialism in the Pacific, both by activist participants in Europe and New Zealand, have recently been published. Overall, they are excellent exposes of the harsh repression of the Melanesian people of West Papua and a world that has largely closed a blind eye to to human rights violations.

In Papua Blood, Danish photographer Peter Bang provides a deeply personal account of his more than three decades of experience in West Papua that is a testament to the resilience and patience of the people in the face of “slow genocide” with an estimated 500,000 Papuans dying over the past half century.

With See No Evil, Maire Leadbeater, peace movement advocate and spokesperson of West Papua Action Auckland, offers a meticulously researched historical account of New Zealand’s originally supportive stance for the independence aspirations of the Papuan people while still a Dutch colony and then its unprincipled slide into betrayal amid Cold War realpolitik.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Nauru, Fiji and Pacific Facebook gags criticised in Asia-Pacific media freedom summit


Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire talks about the global threat against journalists.
Video:
Café Pacific

By David Robie in Paris
WHEN Reporters Without Borders chief Christophe Deloire introduced the Paris-based global media watchdog’s Asia-Pacific press freedom defenders to his overview last week, it was grim listening.

First up in RSF’s catalogue of crimes and threats against the global media was Czech President Miloš Zeman’s macabre press conference stunt late last year.

However, Zeman’s sick joke angered the media when he brandished a dummy Kalashnikov AK47 with the words “for journalists” carved into the wood stock at the October press conference in Prague and with a bottle of alcohol attached instead of an ammunition clip.

RSF’s Christophe Deloire talks of the Czech President’s anti-journalists gun “joke”.
Image: David Robie/PMC
Zeman has never been cosy with journalists but this gun stunt and a recent threat about “liquidating” journalists (another joke?) rank him alongside US President Donald Trump and the Philippines leader, Rodrigo Duterte, for their alleged hate speech against the media.

Monday, July 9, 2018

This week in history - the Rainbow Warrior bombing as told to ABC's Nightlife


Journalist, media educator and author David Robie ... Rainbow Warrior bombing reflections
after 33 years. Image: PMC
Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk
PACIFIC environmental and political journalist David Robie has recalled the bombing of the original Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior 33 years ago in an interview with host Sarah Macdonald on the ABC’s Nightlife “This Week in History” programme.

Dr Robie, now professor of journalism and director of the Pacific Media Centre at Auckland University of Technology, wrote the 1986 book Eyes Of Fire: Last Voyage of the Rainbow Warrior that has been published in four countries and five editions.

LISTEN: Terrorism in Auckland in 1985

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Former military chief warns PNG soldiers could be ‘outgunned’ in Mendi strife

Deadly MAG 58 Model 60-20 machine guns mounted on a cabin-top truck in the Southern Highlands.
Image: PNGAttitude
From Asia Pacific Report
A FORMER Papua New Guinea military commander has warned that he is “concerned, if not frightened” that the PNG Defence Force may be deploying police and soldiers in the troubled Southern Highlands province facing a deadly weapon.

Ex-Brigadier-General Jerry Singirok , a former commander of the PNGDF who arrested mercenaries deployed by the Sir Julius Chan government for the Bougainville war in the so-called Sandline crisis in 1997, has made his views known in independent media.

In an item published by PNG Attitude and EMTV journalist Scott Waide’s blog, Singirok described Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s government response to last week’s Mendi riots as a “premature state of emergency” and a “cheap, reckless and knee-jerk option”.

His comments have come at a time when the nation has been shocked by the display of high powered assault weapons by protesters since last week’s Mendi rioting.

It is clear that the government’s guns amnesty last year did little to encourage people to surrender their weapons, reports Loop PNG.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

'Free media' week killings - but don't forget crimes against Papuans


"Save Papuan Journalists" - a theme poster from last year's May 3 World Press Freedom Day event in Jakarta, Indonesia.
West Papuan media freedom issues tend to be "lost" in the standard press freedom reports on Indonesia.
Image: David Robie/Pacific Media Centre
By David Robie

MONDAY – just three days before today’s World Press Freedom Day – was the deadliest day for news media in Afghanistan in 17 years. The killing of nine journalists and media workers among 26 people who died in dual suicide bomb attacks in Kabul was the worst day for the press since the fall of the Taliban.

Five other journalists were wounded and a 10th journalist was shot and killed in a separate attack outside the capital.

Among the dead was Agence France-Presse chief photographer Shah Marai who left behind an extraordinary legacy of images.

READ MORE: Hatred of journalism threatens democracies

It was the also the most horrendous day for global media since the Ampatuan massacre on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao on 23 November 2009. A shocking 32 journalists were murdered that day, most of the total death toll of 58 in an ambush on a pre-election cavalcade.

To date nobody has been successfully brought to justice. The scores of private militia “owned” by the Ampatuan family alleged to have carried out the killings have got away with their vile crime almost scot-free.

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Ben Bohane photo that Facebook censored on an article about Indonesia

The original version of this photo, of West Papuan nambas (traditional penis gourds), which was published
in the weekend edition of the family newspaper Vanuatu Daily Post and then by Asia Pacific Report,
was deemed to have breached Facebook's "community standards". The photo was by award-winning
photojournalist Ben Bohane, who lives in Vanuatu.
BEN BOHANE: CHINA? NO, LET'S FACE THE ELEPHANT IN THE PACIFIC ROOM

BRIEFING: By Ben Bohane in Port Vila

China … China … China …

All the talk is of increasing Chinese influence in our region. But this is to wilfully see past the elephant in the room.

Contrary to most commentary, the biggest destabilising player in Melanesia over the past five years is not China but Indonesia, which through its “look east” policy has deliberately paralysed the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) while financing local MPs and political parties across the Pacific to try and stop snowballing regional support for West Papuan independence.

Indonesia already has Peter O’Neill onside in PNG, and Voreqe Bainimarama in Fiji, and is busy trying to neutralise Vanuatu, the Solomons and FLNKS (Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front) leaders in New Caledonia, who are resisting Indonesian influence.

READ MORE: The Vanuatu Daily Post and the photo censored by Facebook

The reason Vanuatu and other Melanesian nations may be turning to China is because they are more worried about Indonesia, which has directly threatened Vanuatu over its strong diplomatic support for the West Papuans.

Chinese 'baseless rumour', Nauru 'justice' for refugees and Fiji diabetes



David Robie talks on 95bFM about current Pacific issues


Reuben McLaren of 95bFM talks to Professor David Robie, director of the Pacific Media Centre at Auckland University of Technology, on the centre's Southern Cross radio programme.

David speaks about various upheavals around the Pacific, including the alleged Chinese military "base plans" for Vanuatu, Nauru abolishing its Appeal Court in Australia, and a huge diabetes health bill blowout in Fiji.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Flashback to the 1968 My Lai massacre: 'Something dark and bloody'


RT's special report on the My Lai massacre and the cover-up of this atrocity.


THE MELBOURNE Sunday Observer -- the original newspaper of that name which campaigned against Australian involvement as a US surrogate in the Vietnam War -- published photographs of the My Lai massacre in December 1969. It was prosecuted for "obscenity" for reporting the atrocity but the charge was later dropped.

Image: David Robie from Al Jazeera
Michael Cannon was editor and David Robie chief subeditor at the time (and later the editor). The photographs were published by arrangement with Life Magazine and were later shown to Federal MPs in an attempt to change Australian government support for the war.

The photographs were published during a period when newspapers in Australia rarely published pictures of bodies, and certainly not as victims of "atrocities" by "our side". This website has a small selection of the photographs published by the Observer.

The Sunday Observer was the springboard for the launching of Nation Review in 1970:

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Harsh response lessons abound in wake of PNG’s ‘invisible’ quake

Timu village from the top showing the site where 11 people were buried by landslips during the earthquake on
26 February 2018. Four of the bodies have been recovered, seven are still buried, including five children.
Image: Sylvester Gawi/Graun Blong Mi- My Land
By David Robie

Tomorrow Papua New Guinea is marking two weeks since the devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake that devastated parts of Hela, Southern Highlands and Western Highlands provinces on February 26. Officials still have little idea of the full scale of the death and damage, because of the remote rugged terrain involved in what has been described by the BBC as the “invisible quake” – at least to the outside world. However, more than 100 people have died with landslides engulfing entire villages.

Some Papua New Guinean journalists have been doing an admirable job reporting the disaster to international media as well as their own people in difficult and risky circumstances – journalists such as EMTV’s deputy editor Scott Waide and NBC’s Sylvester Gawi. When communications were difficult through mainstream media connections, they have used their personal blogs. Here is the latest blog from Gawi republished from Asia Pacific Report:

BRIEFING: By Sylvester Gawi in Tari, Papua New Guinea


Papua New Guinea’s Highlands earthquake disaster has brought to light some of the many things that need to be considered in assisting those affected by disaster and restoring vital infrastructures and communication links between relief agencies and the people.

The response to the 7.5 magnitude earthquake on February 26 took almost a week for the National Disaster Centre to find out statistics of people who were affected, casualties, homes and food gardens destroyed and how to deliver relief supplies to those affected.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Where were the Pacific activists and independent media at climate summit?

Papua New Guinea’s Northern Province Governor Gary Juffa …he asked what about the climate
change activists and West Papuan advocates? Where were they? Image: David Robie/PMC

By David Robie at Te Papa

A recent Andy Marlette cartoon published by the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon, depicted a bathtub-looking Noah’s Ark with a couple of stony-faced elephants on board with a sodden sign declaring “Climate change is a hoax”.

The other animals on board floating to safety were muttering among themselves: “The elephants won’t admit that these 100-year events are happening once a month …”

At the other end of the globe in Wellington this week for the second Pacific Ocean Climate Conference at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum, I encountered a fatalistic message from a Tongan taxi driver counting down the hours before the tail-end of Tropical Cyclone Gita struck the New Zealand capital after wreaking a trail of devastation in Samoa, Tonga and Fiji.

He had it all worked out: “We don’t need climate conferences,” he said. “Just trust in God and we’ll survive.”

However, a key takeaway message from the three-day conference was just how urgent action is needed by global policymakers, especially for the frontline states in the Pacific – Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu, where none of the sprawling atolls that make up those countries are higher than 2m above sea level.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Coups, globalisation and tough questions for Fiji's future

The General's Goose - three decades of Fiji "coup culture". And what now with the second
post-coup election due this year?
REVIEW: By David Robie of Café Pacific
Historian Dr Robbie Robertson ... challenges "misconceptions"
about the Bainimarama government and previous coups, and asks
fundamental questions about Fiji's future.


When Commodore (now rear admiral retired and an elected prime minister) Voreqe Bainimarama staged Fiji’s fourth “coup to end all coups” on 5 December 2006, it was widely misunderstood, misinterpreted and misrepresented by a legion of politicians, foreign affairs officials, journalists and even some historians.

A chorus of voices continually argued for the restoration of “democracy” – not only the flawed version of democracy that had persisted in various forms since independence from colonial Britain in 1970, but specifically the arguably illegal and unconstitutional government of merchant banker Laisenia Qarase that had been installed on the coattails of the third (attempted) coup in 2000.

Yet in spite of superficial appearances, Bainimarama’s 2006 coup contrasted sharply with its predecessors.

Bainimarama attempted to dodge the mistakes made by Sitiveni Rabuka after he carried out both of Fiji’s first two coups in 1987 while retaining the structures of power.

Instead, notes New Zealand historian Robbie Robertson who lived in Fiji for many years, Bainimarama “began to transform elements of Fiji: Taukei deference to tradition, the provision of golden eggs to sustain the old [chiefly] elite, the power enjoyed by the media and judiciary, rural neglect and infrastructural inertia” (p. 314). But that wasn’t all.

Friday, January 26, 2018

UN critics join global outrage over Duterte’s Rappler ‘free press’ attack


Rappler’s CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa says that the Philippine government spends a lot of effort to turn journalism into a crime which shouldn’t be the case. Video: Rappler


By David Robie from Asia Pacific Report

Three United Nations special rapporteurs have added their voice to the global protests this week over the President Rodrigo Durterte government bureaucracy’s attack on the independent online news website Rappler and a free press in the Philippines.

Rappler has been the latest media target for the administration’s wrath over a tenacious public interest watchdog that has been relentless in its coverage of the republic’s so-called “war on drugs” and state disinformation.

Some media freedom advocates claim that the Philippines is facing its worst free expression and security crisis since the Marcos dictatorship, with The New York Times denouncing the “ruthlessness” and “viciousness” of Duterte’s disdain for democracy.

The death toll in the extrajudicial spate of killings range between 3993 (official) and more than 12,000 since Duterte took office on June 30, 2016, according to Human Rights Watch.

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