Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Victory in defeat for Kanak independence movement in latest referendum


A display of Kanaky independence flags on referendum day.
Image: Al Jazeera/PMC screenshot

By David Robie

WHILE pro-independence Kanak supporters rued another defeat in the second referendum on independence for New Caledonia at the weekend, it was even narrower than the loss two years ago. Now there is a real prospect of a win in 2022.

“The path to independence and sovereignty is inevitable,” pledges the Front de Libération Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS) – the umbrella group of the pro-independence parties and the struggle will go on.

Roch Wamytan, president of New Caledonia’s parliamentary Congress and a key leader of the FLNKS’ Union Calédonienne, vows the independence lobbying will press for the third referendum in two years’ time – and even later if needed.

If there is a third defeat, “we’ll talk, and we’ll figure something out”.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Facebook censorship on West Papua – then deafening silence

Facebook censorship on West Papua ... a "cruel irony". Image: RSF/PMC

By David Robie

THE SILENCE from Facebook is deafening and disturbing.

At first, when I lodged my protests earlier this month to Facebook over the immediate removal of a West Papua news item from the International Federation of Journalists shared with three social media outlets, including West Papua Media Alerts and The Pacific Newsroom, I thought it was rogue algorithms gone haywire.

The “breach of community standards” warning I also received on my FB page was unacceptable, but surely a mistake?

However, with subsequent protests by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) media freedom watchdog and the Sydney office of the Asia-Pacific branch of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the world’s largest journalist organisation with more than 600,000 members in 187 countries, falling on deaf ears, I started wondering about the political implications of this censorship.

READ MORE: Melanesia: Facebook algorithms censor article about press freedom in West Papua

We had all complained separately to the FB director of policy for Australia and New Zealand, Mia Garlick, and were ignored.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

75 plus 35 years – the Hiroshima and Rainbow Warrior nuclear rewinds

The Hiroshima devastation 75 years ago today. Image: iCAN

By David Robie

While the globe struggles to cope with the deadly onslaught of the covid-19 pandemic, communicators, historians, journalists and activists have been deploying innovative ways of marking three nuclear-related anniversaries in barely a month.

Over the next few days, the devastating destruction, cruel loss of life and survivors' stories from the world's first and only deployment of nuclear weapons are being remembered in Japan and around the world.

The United States dropping of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima 75 years ago on 6 August 1945 and then on Nagasaki three days later left two utterly destroyed cities and more than 215,000 people dead. Thousands more lives were lost in the following years from leukemia, cancer and other diseases caused by the radiation from the weapons.

READ MORE: Another Hiroshima is coming - unless we stop it now

With the third anniversary, 10 July 1985, although only one life was lost - there could easily have been more - the repercussions for New Zealand and throughout the Pacific have also been shattering.

One outrage was a wartime atrocity, claimed falsely that it was carried out to shorten the Pacific war, and the other was a peacetime atrocity.

Friday, July 10, 2020

From nuclear refugees to climate justice – the Rainbow Warrior legacy

Rongelap islanders with their belongings approach the Rainbow Warrior in May 1985.
Image: (c) David Robie
SPECIAL REPORT: By David Robie, who sailed on the original Rainbow Warrior to Rongelap atoll and is author of the book Eyes of Fire.

Thirty five years ago today the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior was bombed in Auckland’s Waitematā Harbour by French secret agents in a blatant act of state terrorism, killing a photojournalist.

People’s campaigns have moved on since then from nuclear tests and refugees to climate justice – and future Pacific refugees.

The environmental campaign flagship was bombed on 10 July 1985 just weeks after it had been in the Marshall Islands carrying out four humanitarian voyages to rescue more than 320 Rongelap atoll villagers from the ravages of US nuclear tests and take them to a new home, Mejato island on Kwajalein atoll.

READ MORE: Eyes of Fire – Thirty Years On
LISTEN: David Robie reflects on the Rainbow Warrior on RNZ’s Crimes NZ programme

They were nuclear refugees seeking justice, relief and a healthy life far from the dangerous legacy left from 105 tests on Bikini and nearby atolls.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Toxic US politics, a brutal killing and the messengers become the target

CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez ... arrested in a First Amendment violation, then released
with a police apology. Image: Al Jazeera screenshot/David Robie
Three cartoonists had especially poignant takes on the tragic and toxic political aftermath of martyr George Floyd’s brutal killing under the knee of a white American policeman in Minneapolis last week.

The Boston Globe’s Christopher Weyant featured a split frame contrasting a red-capped “Make America Great Again” and a Covid Is A Hoax tee-short dangling his face mask while declaring: “You’re violating my freedom – I can’t breathe”.

On the other side of the frame is the accused policeman with his knee on Floyd’s neck as he gasps: “You’re violating my freedom … I … can’t breathe!”

READ MORE: US press freedom tracker records more than 300 incidents against journalists in the George Floyd protests

An unnamed Greek cartoonist shared by Elena Akrita showed the Statue of Liberty bearing the flame of freedom while extinguishing a life with a jackboot.

At the other end of the globe, in the South Pacific, New Zealand Herald’s Rod Emmerson depicted President Trump holding aloft a petrol can in his right hand instead of the Bible. In the background is the legend: In God We Trust: In Trump We Just Shake Our Heads.

Friday, May 22, 2020

West Papua’s highway of blood – a case of destruction not development

A Papuan with a face painting of the banned Papuan independence flag Morning Star. Image: The Road
REVIEW: By David Robie

The 4300-km Trans-Papua Highway costing some US$1.4 billion was supposed to bring “wealth, development and prosperity” to the isolated regions of West Papua.

At least, that’s how the planners and politicians envisaged the highway far away in their Jakarta offices.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is so enthusiastic about the project as a cornerstone for his infrastructure strategies that he had publicity photographs taken of him on his Kawasaki trail motorbike on the highway.

But that isn’t how West Papuans see “The Road”.

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