Friday, December 30, 2022

2022 Pacific political upheavals, elections eclipse Tongan volcano

Popular original 1987 coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka . . . back as prime minister in Fiji
but with promises of a more democratic and transparent era. Image: FIJIVILLAGE

By David Robie

The Pacific year started with a ferocious eruption and global tsunami in Tonga, but by the year’s end several political upheavals had also shaken the region with a vengeance.

A razor’s edge election in Fiji blew away a long entrenched authoritarian regime with a breath of fresh air for the Pacific, two bitterly fought polls in Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu left their mark, and growing geopolitical rivalry with the US and Australia contesting China’s security encroachment in the Solomon Islands continues to spark convulsions for years to come.

It was ironical that the two major political players in Fiji were both former coup leaders and ex-military chiefs – the 1987 double culprit Sitiveni Rabuka, a retired major-general who is credited with introducing the “coup culture” to Fiji, and Voreqe Bainimarama, a former rear admiral who staged the “coup to end all coups” in 2006.

It had been clear for some time that the 68-year-old Bainimarama’s star was waning in spite of repressive and punitive measures that had been gradually tightened to shore up control since an unconvincing return to democracy in 2014.

And pundits had been predicting that the 74-year-old Rabuka, a former prime minister in the 1990s, and his People’s Alliance-led coalition would win. However, after a week-long stand-off and uncertainty, Rabuka’s three-party coalition emerged victorious and Rabuka was elected PM by a single vote majority.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Farewell Filep Karma, the revered West Papuan leader who could have ushered in unity

West Papua's funeral procession for Filep Karma . . . banned Morning Star flags
in defiance for the man who strove for “justice, democracy, peace
and non-violent resistance" against Indonesian rule. IMAGE: Twitter screenshot APR


A TRAGIC day of mourning. Thousands thronged the West Papuan funeral cortège today and tonight as the banned Morning Star led the way in defiance of the Indonesian military.

There haven’t been so many Papuan flags flying under the noses of the security forces since the 2019 Papuan Uprising.

Filep Jacob Semuel Karma, 63, the “father” of the Papuan nation, was believed to be the one leader who could pull together the splintered factions seeking self-determination and independence.

It is still shocking a day after his lifeless body in a wetsuit was found on a Jayapura beach.

Police and Filep Karma’s family say they had no reason to believe that his death resulted from foul play, report Jubi editor Victor Mambor in Jayapura and Nazarudin Latif from Jakarta for Benar News.

“I followed the post-mortem process and it was determined that my father died from drowning while diving,” Karma’s daughter, Andrefina Karma, told reporters.

But many human rights advocates and researchers aren’t so convinced.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Fiji academic warns over media ‘climate injustice’ in open access webinar

Open Access Australasia deputy chair Dimity Flanagan . . . moderating
the "look at the evidence" webinar on the media and climate crisis.
IMAGE: Open Access screen shot APR


A Fiji-based academic challenged the Pacific region’s media and policymakers today over climate crisis coverage, asking whether the discriminatory style of reporting was a case of climate injustice.

Associate Professor Shailendra Singh, head of the journalism programme at the University of the South Pacific, said climate press conferences and meetings were too focused on providing coverage of “privileged elite viewpoints”.

“Elites have their say, but communities facing the brunt of climate change have their voices muted,” he told the Look at the Evidence: Climate Journalism and Open Science webinar panel exploring the role of journalism in raising climate awareness in the week-long Open Access Australasia virtual conference.

Dr Singh, who is also on the editorial board of Pacific Journalism Review and was speaking for the recently formed Asia Pacific Media Network (APMN), threw open several questions to the participants about what appeared to be “discriminatory reporting”.

“Is slanted media coverage marginalising grassroots voices? Is this a form of climate injustice?” he asked.

“Are news media unknowingly perpetuating climate injustice?”

He cited many of the hurdles impacting on the ability of Pacific news media to cover the climate crisis effectively, such as lack of resources in small media organisations and lack of reporting expertise.

“We are unable to have specialist climate reporters as in some other countries; our journalists tend to be a jack-of-all-trades, and master of none,” he said.

He did not mean this in a “disparaging manner”, saying “it’s just our reality” given limited resources.

Key Pacific media handicaps included:

• The smallness of Pacific media systems;
• Limited revenue and small profit margins;
• A high attrition rate among journalists (mostly due to uncompetitive salaries);
• Pacific journalists “don’t have the luxury” of specialising in one area; and
• No media economies of scale.

“Our journalists don’t build sufficient knowledge in any one topic for consistent or in-depth reporting,” he said. “And this is more deeply felt in areas such as climate reporting.”

He cited pioneering research on Pacific climate reporting by Samoan climate change journalist Lagipoiva Dr Cherelle Jackson, saying such Pacific media research was “scarce”.

‘Staying afloat in Paradise’
A research fellow with the Reuters Institute and Oxford University, Dr Jackson carried out research on how media in her homeland and six other Pacific countries were covering climate change. The 2010 report was titled Staying Afloat in Paradise: Reporting Climate Change in the Pacific.

Pacific journalists and editors “have a responsibility to inform readers on how climatic changes can affect them, she argued. But this did not translate into the pages of their newspapers.

“Climate change is simply not as high a priority for Pacific newsrooms as issues such as health, education and politics which all take precedence over even general environment reporting,” Dr Jackson wrote.

“For a region mainly classified by the United Nations as ‘least developed’ and ‘developing’ countries, it is apparent that there are more pressing issues than climate change.

“But the fact that the islands of the Pacific are already at the bottom end of the scale in regards to wealth and infrastructure, and the fact that climate change is also threatening the mere existence of some islands, should make it a big story. But it isn’t.”

She has continued her advocacy work on climate change as climate editor of the Associated Press and completing a doctorate on the topic.

Newsroom's Marc Daalder
Newsroom’s Marc Daalder . . . “we need this [open access] to happen
for climate reporting”. IMAGE: Open Access Week 2022 screenshot APR
The Open Access Australasia media panel today also included Newsroom’s Marc Daalder, The Conversation’s New Zealand science editor Veronica Meduna, and Guardian columnist Dr Jeff Sparrow of the University of Melbourne. It was chaired by Open Access Australasia deputy chair Dimity Flanagan.

Critical of paywalls
Daalder spoke about how open access to scientific papers was vitally important for journalists who needed to read complete papers, not just abstracts. He was critical of the paywalls on many scientific research papers.

Open access enabled journalists to do their job better and this was clearly shown during the covid-19 pandemic — “and we need this to happen for climate reporting”.

Meduna said it took far too long for research, such as on climate change, to filter through into public debate. Open access helped to reduce that gap.

She also said the success of The Conversation model showed that there was a growing demand for scientists communicating directly with the public with the help of journalists.

Dr Sparrow called for a social movement for meaningful action on the climate crisis and more scientific literacy was needed to enable this.

Highly critical of the “dysfunctional” academic publishing industry, he said open access would contribute to “radically accessible” science for the public.

The panel was organised by Tuwhera digital and open access publishing team at Auckland University of Technology.


Open Access Week 2022
Open Access Week 2022 … the media climate webinar panel.
IMAGE: Open Access Week screenshot APR

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Pacific lessons in climate crisis journalism and combating disinformation - David Robie

Media educator and Asia Pacific Report editor Professor David Robie tells of the resilience
and courage of Pacific journalists faced with many challenges.
IMAGE: MediAsia Iafor/La Trobe screenshot

New Zealand journalist and academic David Robie has covered the Asia-Pacific region for international media for more than four decades.

An advocate for media freedom in the Pacific region, he is the author of several books on South Pacific media and politics, including an account of the French bombing of the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour in 1985 — which took place while he was on the last voyage.

In 1994 he founded the journal Pacific Journalism Review examining media issues and communication in the South Pacific, Asia-Pacific, Australia and New Zealand.

He is also convenor of the Pacific Media Watch media freedom collective, which collaborates with Reporters Without Borders in Paris, France.

Until he retired at Auckland University of Technology in 2020 as that university’s first professor in journalism and founder of the Pacific Media Centre, Dr Robie organised many student projects in the South Pacific such as the Bearing Witness climate action programme.

He currently edits Asia Pacific Report and is one of the founders of the new Aotearoa New Zealand-based NGO Asia Pacific Media Network.

Watch the conversation between Dr Nasya Nahfen and Asia Pacific Report editor Professor David Robie. VIDEO: MediAsia Iafor/Café Pacific Media

In this interview conducted by Mediasia organising committee member Dr Nasya Bahfen of La Trobe University for this week’s 13th International Asian Conference on Media, Communication and Film that ended today in Kyoto, Japan, Professor Robie discusses a surge of disinformation and the challenges it posed for journalists in the region as they covered the covid-19 pandemic alongside a parallel “infodemic” of fake news and hoaxes.

The MediAsia “conversation” on Asia-Pacific issues in Kyoto, Japan.
IMAGE: Iafor screenshot APR
He also explores the global climate emergency and the disproportionate impact it is having on the Asia-Pacific.

Paying a tribute to the dedication and courage of Pacific journalists, he says with a chuckle: “All Pacific journalists are climate journalists — they live with it every day.”

Challenges facing the Asia-Pacific media
Challenges facing the Asia-Pacific media . . . La Trobe University’s Dr Nasya Bahfen
and Asia Pacific Report’s Dr David Robie in conversation.
IMAGE: Iafor screenshot APR

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Defend NZ’s ‘fragile democracy’ by tackling disinformation, says advocate

Anjum Rahman, project lead of the Inclusive Aotearoa Collective Tāhono
. . . “If our democracy fails, all those other things fail as well.”
IMAGE: David Robie/Asia Pacific Report


A human rights advocate has appealed for people in Aotearoa New Zealand to take personal responsibility in the fight against disinformation and to upskill their critical thinking skills.

Anjum Rahman, project lead of the Inclusive Aotearoa Collective Tāhono, said this meant taking responsibility for verifying the accuracy and source of information before passing it on and not fuelling hate and misunderstanding.

“Our democracy is very fragile,” she warned while delivering the annual David Wakim Memorial Lecture 2022 with the theme “Protecting Democracy in an Online World” at Parnell’s Jubilee Hall.

She said communities were facing challenging and rapidly changing times with climate change, conflicts, inflation and the ongoing pandemic.

“If our democracy fails, all those other things fail as well,” she said.

“And for those of us who are more vulnerable it is a matter of life and death.

“Who most stand to lose their freedom if democracy fails? Who will be on the frontline to be exterminated?”

Rahman is co-chair of the Christchurch Call Advisory Network and a member of the Independent Advisory Committee of the Global Internet Forum for Countering Terrorism.

Argued strongly for diversity
As an advocate, she has argued strongly for many years in support of diversity and inclusion and in 2019 was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

On the third anniversary of the 15 March 2019 mosque massacre, she wrote in a column for The Spinoff that “we don’t need any more empty platitudes of sorrow . . . we need firm action and strong resolve. Across the board.”

The David Wakim Memorial Lecture 2022.                            Video: Billy Hania

The recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry were more critical now than ever, and absolutely urgent, she wrote.

“In a world that feels chaotic, with war, rising prices, anger and hate expressed in protests across the world, our hearts seek a certainty that isn’t there.

“We need more urgency, and in many areas. I’m still disappointed with the Counter-Terrorism legislation passed last year, granting greater powers without evidence of any benefit. Hate speech legislation has been delayed, and we await a full review and overhaul of the national security system.”

A founding member of the Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand, Rahman gave a wide-ranging address tonight on the online challenges for democracy, and answered a host of questions from the audience of about 100.

“I’m really worried about trolls,” said one. “They affect government, they influence voters, they have an impact on all sorts of decision making – what can be done about it?”

Rahman replied that it was very difficult question – “I wish there was a simple answer.”

The audience at the Pax Christi-hosted David Wakim Memorial
Lecture 2022 at Parnell’s Jubilee Hall. IMAGE: David Robie/APR

Removing troll incentives

She said there needed to be more education and greater awareness of the activities of trolls and the sort of social media platforms they operated on.

One problem was that the more attention paid trolls got, it often meant the more money they were getting.

A challenge was to remove the incentive being given to them.

Award-winning cartoonist Malcolm Evans asked Rahman what her response was to the global situation “right now” with the invasion of Ukraine where people were “under intense pressure to vilify the Russians . . . treating them as ‘evil’.”

He added that “we live in a time that is probably the most dangerous that I have experienced in my lifetime … we are facing an Armageddon and I blame the media for that.

“It’s a disgrace.”

This led to a discussion by Pax Christi Aotearoa’s Janfrie Wakim about how Evans lost his job as a cartoonist on The New Zealand Herald in 2003 for “naming Israeli apartheid” over the repression of Palestinians to the loud applause of the audience.

‘Quality journalism’ paywalls
In a discussion about media, Rahman said she was disturbed by the failures of the media business model that meant increasingly “quality journalism” was being placed behind paywalls while the public that could not afford paywalls were being served “poor quality” information.

Introducing Anjum Rahman, Pax Christi’s Susan Healy said how “especially delighted the Wakim whanau were” that she had agreed to give the lecture.

David Wakim was the inaugural president of Pax Christi Aotearoa, an independent section of Pax Christi International, a Catholic organisation founded in France at the end of World War Two committed to working “to transform a world shaken by violence, terrorism, deepening inequalities, and global insecurity”.

Growing up in a Sydney Catholic family, Wakim was an advocate of interfaith dialogue. His travels in Muslim countries strengthened his links with the three faiths of Abraham – Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

He helped establish the Council of Christians and Muslims in Auckland, but was especially committed to Palestinian rights.

Wakim died in 2005 and the annual lecture honours his and Pax Christi’s mahi for Tiriti o Waitangi, interfaith dialogue, peace education, human rights and restorative justice.

Anjum Rahman addressing the Pax Christi-hosted David Wakim
Memorial Lecture 2022.
IMAGE: Billy Hania video screenshot/APR

Saturday, September 24, 2022

New Asia Pacific nonprofit takes up role of PJR publishing for research

Members of the recently formed APMN at a recent general meeting at the
Whānau Community Hub in Auckland's Mt Roskill. IMAGE: APMN

Asia Pacific Report

A new Asia Pacific nonprofit group has taken up the role of publishing the independent Pacific Journalism Review and other research and publication ventures.

The launch of the Asia Pacific Media Network | Te Koakoa Inc. (APMN) has ensured the viability of the New Zealand-based 28-year-old journal that was founded at the University of Papua New Guinea in 1994.

The journal has a focus on Asia Pacific, Australian and New Zealand media research but also publishes widely on global issues.

Chair Dr Heather Devere says the members of the network — mostly in Australia, Fiji and New Zealand — aim to “show support and work for the benefit of First Nations and other communities in Aotearoa and the Asia-Pacific region”.

But, adds Dr Devere, an author and retired director of research practice at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (NCPACS): “The first and most urgent aim is to enable the continued publication of the nonprofit media research journal Pacific Journalism Review”.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Martial law brutality in ‘educational’ musical drama Katips touches raw nerve in NZ

A Gabriela poster honouring martyred women during the Marcos martial law years
in the Philippines on display at the AUT film screening. IMAGE: David Robie/APR


Seven weeks ago the Philippines truth-telling martial law film Katips was basking in the limelight in the country’s national FAMAS academy movie awards, winning best picture and a total of six other awards.

Last week it began a four month “world tour” of 10 countries starting in the Middle East followed by Aotearoa New Zealand on Sunday – hosted simultaneously at AUT South campus and in Wellington and Christchurch.

The screening of Vincent Tañada’s harrowing – especially the graphic torture scenes – yet also joyful and poignant musical drama touched a raw nerve among many in the audience who shared tears and their experiences of living in fear, or in hiding, during the hate-filled Marcos dictatorship.

The martial law denunciations, arbitrary arrests, desaparecidos (“disappeared”), brutal tortures and murders by state assassins in the 1970s made the McCarthy era red-baiting witchhunts in the US seem like Sunday School picnics.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Late Queen Elizabeth’s 1953 Pacific royal tour teaches us much about how we saw the world

The Sunday Graphic's 1953 Royal Tour Picture Album ... "The tour seems to have been
a strange affair, a tour of places rarely visited by royalty alongside some more important,
but equally far-flung outposts of the Commonwealth. It was rather like
Iron Maiden playing in Christchurch or Caracas." IMAGE: PJR screenshot

As global tributes pour in for Queen Elizabeth II, who has died at 96 after an extraordinary reign of 70 years, my colleague PHILIP CASS, editor of Pacific Journalism Review, reflects on the late Queen’s first — of many — royal tours of the Pacific and what it reveals about colonial attitudes of the time.

One of the joys of travelling the world and collecting books is the historical oddities that turn up in the most unexpected places.

I have a splendid copy of the complete works of Shakespeare dating to the Second World War, completely re-set, so the frontispiece notes, due to the original plates having been “destroyed by enemy action”. One wonders at the perfidy of the Luftwaffe in trying to blow up the Bard.

I have a copy of Grove’s encyclopaedia of music from the 1930s which notes with disdain that attempts to make jazz respectable by using an orchestra have failed—and this written several years after Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. The same volume also contains a section on the influence of Jews in classical music, noting such important ‘Hebrew’ composers as Mahler.

Both these volumes came from a secondhand bookseller near the bus station in Suva: relics, I suppose, of a long departed British colonial administrator.

Each of these volumes is a window into the past and into attitudes and ideas that have long vanished.

In the year of the Platinum Jubilee of the late Queen Elizabeth II—who died yesterday aged 96 after a 70-year reign—it was therefore timely to find a copy of the Royal Tour Picture Album, a lavishly illustrated record of her 1953 tour of the Commonwealth in my local Salvation Army shop.

The 1953 tour seems to have been a strange affair, a tour of places rarely visited by royalty alongside some more important, but equally far-flung outposts of the Commonwealth. It was rather like Iron Maiden playing in Christchurch or Caracas.

Friday, July 29, 2022

NZ’s Parliament siege, ‘disinformation war’, kava and media change featured in latest PJR

Pacific Journalism Review ... exposing the assault on "truth telling" and a
kava photoessay. IMAGE: Todd Henry/PJR


Frontline investigative articles on Aotearoa New Zealand’s 23-day Parliament protester siege, social media disinformation and Asia-Pacific media changes and adaptations are featured in the latest Pacific Journalism Review.

The assault on “truth telling” reportage is led by The Disinformation Project, which warns that “conspiratorial thought continues to impact on the lives and actions of our communities”, and alt-right video researcher Byron C Clark.

Several articles focus on the Philippines general election with the return of the Marcos dynasty following the elevation of the late dictator’s son Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr and the crackdown on independent media, including Nobel Peace Prize co-laureate Maria Ressa’s Rappler.

Columbia Journalism School’s Centre for Investigative Journalism director Sheila Coronel writes of her experiences under the Marcos dictatorship: “Marcos is a hungry ghost. He torments our dreams, lays claim to our memories, and feeds our hopes.”

But with Marcos Jr’s landslide victory in May, she warns: “You will be in La-La Land, a country without memory, without justice, without accountability. Only the endless loop of one family, the soundtrack provided by Imelda.”

Friday, July 22, 2022

‘Doorstops’ at the Pacific Forum – why no tough questions on West Papua?

Bodies of civilians being evacuated after an attack by an armed group
at Nogolaid Village, Kenyam District, Nduga Regency, Papua,
last Saturday. IMAGE: Jubi


A LIVELY 43sec video clip surfaced during last week’s Pacific Islands Forum in the Fiji capital of Suva — the first live leaders’ forum in three years since Tuvalu, due to the covid pandemic.

Posted on Twitter by Guardian Australia’s Pacific Project editor Kate Lyons it showed the doorstopping of Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare by a melee of mainly Australian journalists.

An aloof Sogavare was being tracked over questions about security and China’s possible military designs for the Melanesian nation.


A doorstop on security and China greets Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh
Sogavare (in blue shirt) at the Pacific islands Forum in Suva last week.
IMAGE: Twitter screenshot @MsKateLyons
But Lyons made a comment directed more at questioning journalists themselves about their newsgathering style:

“Australian media attempt to get a response from PM Sogavare, who has refused to answer questions from international media since the signing of the China security deal, on his way to a bilateral with PM Albanese. He stayed smilingly silent.”

Friday, June 10, 2022

Filipino migrants call on NZ to halt military aid to Philippines over Marcos election

Filipinos in the Wellington meeting make their pledge simultaneously with the
Auckland group for “history, truth and democracy” in the Philippines.
IMAGE: Del Abcede/APR


MIGRANTS and overseas Filipinos in Aotearoa New Zealand have called on the governments of both Australia and New Zealand to halt all military and security aid to the Philippines in protest over last month’s “fraudulent” general election.

At simultaneous meetings in Auckland and Wellington, a new broad coalition of social justice and community campaigners endorsed a statement pledging: “Never forget, never again martial law!”

“Bongbong” Marcos Jr, the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr, was elected President in a landslide ballot on May 9 and will take office at the end of this month.

Philippine presidential election frontrunner Bongbong Marcos
Philippine President-elect Bongbong Marcos Jr wooing voters at a campaign rally in Borongan, Eastern Samar. Image: Rappler/Bongbong FB

His father ruled the Philippines with draconian leadership — including 14 years of martial law — between 1965 and 1986 until he was ousted by a People Power uprising.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Ramos-Horta challenges Pacific’s biggest threat to media freedom – China’s gatekeepers

Showing how it's done ... a "more open" media conference in Dili
with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi. IMAGE: TL Presidential Palace media


Timor-Leste, the youngest independent nation and the most fledgling press in the Asia-Pacific, has finally shown how it’s done — with a big lesson for Pacific island neighbours.

Tackle the Chinese media gatekeepers and creeping authoritarianism threatening journalism in the region at the top.

In Dili on the final day of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s grand Pacific tour to score more than 50 agreements and deals — although falling short of winning its Pacific region-wide security pact for the moment — newly elected (for the second time) President José Ramos-Horta won a major concession.

Enough of this paranoid secrecy and contemptuous attitude towards the local – and international – media in democratic nations of the region.

Under pressure from the democrat Ramos-Horta, a longstanding friend of a free media, Wang’s entourage caved in and allowed more questions like a real media conference.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Philippines forgets history and sells its soul for another Marcos

Students protest at the University of the Philippines Manila today over the alleged
election irregularities. IMAGE: APR

By DAVID ROBIE in Tāmaki Makaurau

Sadly, the Philippines has sold its soul. Thirty six years ago a People Power revolution ousted the dictator Ferdinand Marcos after two decades of harsh authoritarian rule.

Yesterday, in spite of a rousing and inspiring Pink Power would-be revolution, the dictator’s only son and namesake “Bongbong” Marcos Jr seems headed to be elected 17th president of the Philippines.

And protests have broken out after the provisional tallies that give Marcos a “lead of millions” with more than 97 percent of the vote counted. Official results could still take some days.

The Pink Power volunteers
The Pink Power volunteers would-be revolution … living
the spirit of democracy. IMAGE: BBC screenshot APR

Along with Bongbong, his running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, daughter of strongman Rodrigo Duterte, president for the past six years and who has been accused of human rights violations over the killings of thousands of alleged suspects in a so-called “war on drugs”, is decisively in the lead as vice-president.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Open letter to Minister Faafoi – an appeal to help 34 abandoned Papuan students

Papuan student advocate Laurens Ikinia ... “We are so grateful to all Kiwis across
the country for their generous support." IMAGE: Del Abcede/Asia Pacific Report

OPEN LETTER: By David Robie

Kia ora Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi

IT IS unconscionable. A bewildering and grossly unfair crisis for 34 young Papuan students – 25 male and 9 female – the hope for the future of the West Papua region, the Melanesian half of Papua New Guinea island ruled by Indonesia.

They were part of a cohort of 93 Papuan students studying in Aotearoa New Zealand on local provincial autonomy government scholarships, preparing for their careers, and learning or improving their English along the way. They were also making Pacific friendships and contacts.

They were fast becoming a “bridge” to New Zealand. Ambassadors for their people.

And then it all changed. Suddenly through no fault of their own, 41 of them were told out of the blue their scholarships were being cancelled and they had to return home.

Their funds were cut with no warning. Many of them had accommodation bills to pay, university fees to cover and other student survival debts.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Ukraine example cited in call to extend visas for abandoned Papuan students

Green Party MP Teanau Tuiono ... “As a Pacific nation we do have a responsibility to support West Papuans.” IMAGE: Tagata Pasifika screenshot APR

By MATTHEW SCOTT of Newsroom

Time is running out for a group of West Papuan students in New Zealand whose scholarships were cut — out of the blue — by the Indonesian government

The sudden removal of government funding for the Papuan students has left many of them in financial dire straits on visas that are running out.

Forty two students learned of the termination of their scholarships at the beginning of this year. With deadlines approaching they have appealed to both the Indonesian government and MPs in New Zealand to see if they can fix their dashed hopes of a completed education.

Green Party MPs Ricardo Menendez March, Golriz Ghahraman and Teanau Tuiono penned a letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta requesting government to support for the students before they are deported.

They are calling for a scholarship fund to support the impacted students, a residency pathway for West Papuan students whose welfare has been affected, and an assurance that the students will have access to safe housing in affordable accommodation.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

AJI slams hacking of group chief’s accounts as attack on press freedom

AJI general chairperson Sasmito Madrim speaking to journalists ... disinformation
hacking attack on Madrim's personal WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook accounts.
IMAGE: Populis

By Vitorio Mantalean in Jakarta

THE INDONESIAN Independent Journalist Alliance (AJI) has condemned the hacking and disinformation attacks against the group’s general chairperson Sasmito Madrim as a serious threat to media freedom.

In a written release, the AJI stated that the incident was a “serious threat to press freedom and the freedom of expression”.

“This practice is a form of attack against activists and the AJI as an organisation which has struggled for freedom of expression and press freedom,” the group stated.

“The hacking and disinformation attack against AJI chairperson Sasmito Madrim is an attempt to terrorise activists who struggle for freedom of expression and democracy”, the group said.

The AJI stated that the hacking attack began on February 23 and targeted Madrim’s personal WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook accounts as well as his personal mobile phone number.

Flashback: The future of the Pacific Media Centre - David Robie talks

Interview with Radio 531pi

RADIO 531pi's Ma'a Brian Sagala talks to the retired founding director of the Pacific Media Centre, Professor David Robie, and Tahitian researcher and advocate Ena Manuireva on the Pacific Days With Brian show about uncertainties over the centre's future a year ago. 

Since then the centre has remained in limbo -- if it even still exists after all the pledges by the AUT University administration to continue its pioneering cultural diversity media work into the future.  

And in spite of the talented staff who worked hard to keep the centre going in spite of management obstacles. 

PMC Online as it was in December 2020 - nothing has been changed or updated since.

This interview was broadcast on a Pacific Media Network (PMN) podcast, 26 March 2021. 

Monday, February 21, 2022

Jack Lapauve: Why we walked out in protest over EMTV news independence


Jack Lapauve Jr.  IMAGE: FB

COMMENTARY: EMTV’s deputy news editor Jack Lapauve Jr in Port Moresby writes in defence of the newsroom’s decision to walk out in protest over the suspension of head of news and current affairs Sincha Dimara on February 7.

The EMTV News editorial decision to run the two stories [about the court cases involving Australian hotel businessman Jamie Pang] was based on two important points in our line of work:

Impartiality and Objectivity.

Impartiality cannot be achieved by the measure of words in a story, it is achieved by:

  • Avoiding bias towards one point of view
  • Avoiding omission of relevant facts
  • Avoiding misleading emphasis

All of which are stated in the EMTV News and Current Affairs Manual 2019 in section 17.5 under standard operations of the television code.

By running the stories, the team was accused of bias.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

PSNA welcomes declaration of Israel as an apartheid state


Cartoon by Malcolm Evans, originally published in The Daily Blog.
Republished with permission.


PALESTINE Solidarity Network Aotearoa welcomes Amnesty International’s ground-breaking declaration of Israel as an apartheid state.

Titled “Israel’s Apartheid against Palestinians”, the 211-page report concludes that the occupation state has imposed a “cruel system of domination” and is committing “crimes against humanity.”

“Our report reveals the true extent of Israel’s apartheid regime. Whether they live in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, or Israel itself, Palestinians are treated as an inferior racial group and systematically deprived of their rights. 

"We found that Israel’s cruel policies of segregation, dispossession and exclusion across all territories under its control clearly amount to apartheid. The international community has an obligation to act,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary-general.

Monday, January 3, 2022

‘Secret plots’, sovereignty and covid challenges face Pacific for New Year


Independence and self-determination in the Pacific ... contrasting referendum experiences
between Bougainville, Kanaky New Caledonia and West Papua.
IMAGE: Screenshot of the Kanak flag in Middle East Eye

ANALYSIS: By David Robie in Auckland

THE PACIFIC year has closed with growing tensions over sovereignty and self-determination issues and growing stress over the ravages of covid-19 pandemic in a region that was largely virus-free in 2020.

Just two days before the year 2021 wrapped up, Bougainville President Ishmael Toroama took the extraordinary statement of denying any involvement by the people or government of the autonomous region of Papua New Guinea being involved in any “secret plot” to overthrow the Manasseh Sogavare government in Solomon Islands.

Insisting that Bougainville is “neutral” in the conflict in neighbouring Solomon Islands where riots last month were fuelled by anti-Chinese hostilities, Toroama blamed one of PNG’s two daily newspapers for stirring the controversy.

“Contrary to the sensationalised report in the Post-Courier (Thursday, December 30, 2021) we do not have a vested interest in the conflict and Bougainville has nothing to gain from overthrowing a democratically elected leader of a foreign nation,” Toroama said.

The frontpage report in the Post-Courier appeared to be a beat-up just at the time Australia was announcing a wind down of the peacekeeping role in the Solomon Islands.

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