Monday, May 25, 2015

1) Fijian PM supports Indonesia’s move to become MSG associate member

2) Papua Church Leaders: Gun Buyers are Called Separatists, What About the Sellers?
3) They Knew I Once Refused A Pardon, Says Filep Karma
4) Media freedom in the Pacific - a double-edged sword

1) Fijian PM supports Indonesia’s move to become MSG associate member
17:43 Mon May 25, 2015

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has supported Indonesia’s bid to become an associate member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
PACNEWS reports Bainimarama confirmed that having Indonesia as an associate member made sense given the population in Papua is more than 11 million Melanesian people in Indonesia.

Voreqe Bainimarama says Fiji will not interfere in Indonesia’s sovereignty saying Papua comes under the governance of Indonesia and for anything to do with Papua – the best thing to do is to bring in Indonesia.
He adds Indonesia will continue to do what it wants to do and hearing talks of assault, human rights abuses – the best thing to do is to bring in Indonesia as an associate member of the MSG.

He also says the issue of alleged human rights abuse by Indonesia will best to be dealt with if Indonesia is allowed in the MSG bloc.
Bainimarama adds that at the end of the day, Papua comes under the sovereignty of Indonesia and the last thing Fiji wants to do is to interfere with someone else’s sovereignty.
The Prime Minister believes if they talk to Indonesia about some of these allegations they will do something about it.
It is expected a decision on the issue will be decided when the Melanesian Leaders will meet in Solomon Islands in July.
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill earlier this month backed a move by Indonesia to become an associate member of the MSG.

2) Papua Church Leaders: Gun Buyers are Called Separatists, What About the Sellers?
Jayapura, Jubi – Two church leaders in Papua questioned the military and police’s handling of security personnel who are accused of involvement in gun trading.
“I know where the OPM (Free Papua Movement) is and their weaponry support as well. If I wanted it could be dismissed with one shot,” said the Cenderawasih XVII Military Commander Major General Christian Zebua on 19 September 2014 (see When Military Commander Claims to Know Weapon Suppliers for OPM)
On 8 August 2014, he claimed the OPM Regional VII Commander, Erin Enden Wanimbo stated tense situation in Lanny Jaya, Papua occurred due to the failure of bullets trading with rogue police in that area. “The current condition in Lanny Jaya started from the arrangement of bullets transaction with an officer named Rahman. He wanted to sell 1,000 bullets to us. We agreed to meet in a place,” said a man who claimed himself as Erin Ende Wanimbo to Jubi by phone. (see Bullets Transaction Heat Up Lanny Jaya, Says OPM).
Shortly the Papua Governor Lukas Enembe spoke. He said as long as bullets were continuing to be traded freely in some central highland areas, Papua would never be safe. “I want to question who did supply those bullets? But obviously it is not the institution but persons. I clearly reported it to the president and the Indonesian Military Commander Moeldoko,” Enembe told reporters in Jayapura on 30 November 2014 (see Lukas Enembe: Related to Bullet Trading, I have Reported to President).
Two days before the governor’s statement, the Papua Police Chief Inspector General Yotje Mende removed the Nduga Police Chief following the arrest of bullets trading involved the Nduga police officer Second Brigadier TJ with the armed group in Wamena, Jayawijaya on Sunday, 26 October 2014 (see Police Officer Sell Bullets, Nduga Police Chief Removed).
Early in February 2015, Cenderawasih XVII Military Regional Command Provost named the Sergeant Major S and First Sergeant MM as suspects of bullets trading with the rebel. The Cenderawasih XVII Military Commander Fransen Siahaan in Jayapura admitted instead of named as suspects, both soldiers also under the process of dismissal. In addition to the two soldiers, three soldiers were also processed for similar case. (see Serma S and Sertu M named Suspects of Bullets Trading). But the First Sergeant M who later identified as First Sergeant Murib was released because he’s not proven involving in trading (see: Military Regional Commander: Sergeant Murib Not Proven Selling Bullets).
Meanwhile two church leaders in Papua, Benny Giay (Chairman of the Evangelical Church Synod) and Dorman Wandikbo (President of the Evangelical Church Synod in Indonesia) in the Public Disscussion held at the House of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) in Jakarta on Friday (22/5/2015).
“The Indonesian Military is hiding behind this (separatism issue). We must analyze where the term is coming from and who is creating it. From August to November last year, almost every week the Military/Police culprits sold the bullets and guns to OPM. I considered it is the way of Military/Police to maintain the conflict in Papua,” Benny Giay said. He believes there is an attempt of certain parties to maintain separatism to still be existed and growing because it’s already proven that the Military/Police can sell the guns and bullets.
“If those who bought the guns were called as separatists, what about those who sold the guns that are the Military/Police officers?” said the Priest who also the anthropologist. Meanwhile the President of GIDI Synod, the Rev Dorman Wandikbo similarly said the Military/Police are responsible of the guns trading in Papua. “Do not blame the separatism,” Wandikbo sai.
He further said the Military/Police officers are often doing a transaction with a rebel group identified as the Armed Criminal Group (KKB) by the police and they later claimed themselves as OPM. “As often they involved in guns transaction, the Military/Police watched and arrested them. They (KKP) then went to the jail and the Military/Police got promoted. Then the OPM became an object, a scapegoat,” Wandikbo said.
Separately in responding the church leaders’ statement, the Military Spokesperson Major General Fuad Basya stated the Indonesian Military never involved in guns or bullets trading in Papua. “As an institution, the military is not involved,” he said as cited the CNN Indonesia on Friday night (22/5).
He added it is particular culprits who might run the bullets or guns trading. it is occurred in Papua because of the demand. “There are those who need weapons or bullets, and those who need money,” he said.
He firmly said if those culprits were soldiers, they would be punished. “They should be fired. If the Law said the Military Culprit who sell bullets or guns can get dead penalty, we must do it,” he said. (Victor Mambor/rom)
3) They Knew I Once Refused A Pardon, Says Filep Karma
Jayapura, Jubi – Papuan independence activist Filep Karma who recently rejected a pardon offered by Indonesian President Joko Widodo firmly said the genture wasn’t new for him.
“They (the Government of Indonesia) also knew that I have rejected a pardon once,” Karma, the chairman of West Papua Political Prisoners’ Forum, told Jubi on Saturday (23/5/2015).
Before Jokowi granted a pardon in early May, Papuan political prisoners have rejected the offer from former Indonesian President Soesilo Bambang Yoedhoyono (SBY) in 2013 through an official letter sent on 27 May 2013. In the letter, they stated they do not need being released but wanted Papua to be liberated of from the Republic of Indonesia. All political prisoners signed the letter including Filep Karma.
According to Karma, it’s more important to demand Jokowi release 90 political prisoners in Papua and Maluku through amnesty and abolition program. “I also want to see his decision to open access for international media in Papua is proven,” Karma said.
He also thought the pardon that recently granted to five Papuan political prisoners is not synergetic with the attitude and the act of the security forces in Papua who actually the president’s subordinate. The security forces are still arresting and detaining the Papuan activists who involved in peace demonstration and even criminalized them. “Criminalization against the West Papua National Committee is also occurred until now,” said Karma who’s prisoned for eleven years.
The church figure in Papua, Benny Giay earlier said that Karma was offered a position as a member of the president’s expert staff if he requested a pardon to the President Jokowi. According to him, this offer was directly delivered by Judith Dipodiputro, a member of Jokowi’s Papua Working Group when visited Karma at Abepura Prison.
“I came to Abepura Prison to visit Filep Karma. At the same time, Judith Dipodiputro talked to him. She asked him to write a letter to the President Jokowi,” Giay said on Friday (22/5/2015).
Karma told Jubi on Thursday (7/5/2015) he would never write a letter to the Indonesian president for his release or saying gratitude for Jokowi’s decision to release the Papuan political prisoners. “If he wanted to grant an amnesty, thank you then. But we never ask or beg for it. Moreover to write a letter of request for exemption and grateful,” he said.
He also admitted he met the president’s ambassador to talk about his released and he was asked to write a letter. “I was asked to write a letter. I don’t what is for about. But I will never write a letter to ask or beg for my release,” stressed Karma. (Victor Mambor/rom)

4) Media freedom in the Pacific - a double-edged sword

Pacific Media Centre's Dr David Robie ... visiting undercover journalists risk creating dangers for local people. Image: Kendall Hutt

Pacific Media Centre

25 May, 2015
Media freedom is about the right of the people to be informed, not just about media freedoms of journalists and news organisations. Kendall Hutt reports.
BACKGROUNDER: The issue of media freedom in the Pacific has come to the fore following recent international calls for Indonesia to allow foreign journalists access to West Papua and President Joko Widodo declaring a lifting of restrictions.
Indonesia has in the past banned the international media from accessing West Papua for more than 50 years and little is known about what goes on inside the province.
The only way international journalists are allowed into the province has been through invitation by the state or "underground" on a tourist visa.
Those who are invited have been chaperoned by a “minder” from the military, says Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie.
He says Jakarta's past claims of relaxing its policy have simply been a fig leaf and heis not convinced by President Jokowi's gestures in freeing five political prisoners and announcing free access for the international media.
Dr Robie says a tourist visa has been a highly dangerous way into the province and is not only a risk for the journalist but also for potential sources among Papuan people.
“The danger you create as a visiting journalist undercover, if you like, is for the local people
Reprisals against locals
“You expose them and their families to reprisals.”
Local journalists in West Papua have also been at risk and have worked under what Dr Robie calls “the heel of authorities” and faced dangers every day.
“Under military control for some time journalists have been murdered, abducted, and routinely faced all sorts of threats.”
Adrian Stevanon, a current affairs reporter for Māori Television, says that although the New Zealand government has been applying pressure to the Indonesian government it has clearly not been enough.
Stevanon says West Papua is an example of where the government could do more and has not done so.
He calls for the government to shed more light on what the media in the Pacific can and cannot do.
However, West Papua is not the only region in the Pacific where media freedom is an issue.
'Draconian' law
Another area of concern is also Fiji, where “draconian” laws limit media freedom, says Dr Robie.
Imposed in 2010, the Media Industry Development Decree has meant that government transparency has been contentious and holding the government to account in Fiji has been systematically difficult.
An attempt by opposition National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad to have the decree repealed this month was defeated.
In some Pacific Island contexts, journalists constantly run the risk of harsher media laws being imposed on the justification, or pretext, that journalists are “careless” and “unprofessional”, says Shailendra Singh, a senior lecturer in journalism at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji.
Singh says that in such autocratic settings, the media has become its own worst enemy by disregarding professional ethics and giving governments an excuse for a crackdown.
To improve and ensure media freedom in the Pacific, it is important to practise responsible journalism, so media education and training for journalists is crucial, says Singh.
Singh believes that if journalists are more qualified and professional, and practise responsible journalism, media freedom can be strengthened through greater public confidence in the news media, which could act as a buffer against government designs to curb freedom of speech.
Dr Robie says this “cry for responsible journalism” comes from governments when the media publish stories that embarrass ministers.
Tough questions
He labels what governments describe as responsible journalism as “soft” and says that the government is not held to account and tough questions are not answered.
Dr Robie believes constant exposure of efforts to curtail media freedom must be brought to public attention for change to happen.
He says media freedom is as much about the journalist and media organisation as it is about the freedom of the people to be informed.
He says media freedom is about the rights of the people to be informed, not just the freedoms of journalists and news organisations.
“It’s the freedom of everybody we’re campaigning to protect and support.”
Kendall Hutt is a journalism major at AUT University, currently completing a Bachelor of Communication Studies. 

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