Friday, September 9, 2016

1) ’Small and Far’: Pacific Island States Gather at Annual Forum

1) ’Small and Far’: Pacific Island States Gather at Annual Forum
The 16 states are meeting this week to discuss regional challenges, particularly climate change.
By Grant Wyeth September 09, 2016
The 47th Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ meeting began this week on the island of Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia. The meeting will bring together the leaders of 16 Pacific Island states to provide a platform discuss the prominent economic, development, and security issues of the region, and seek solutions to the region’s mutual problems. 
The forum describes its mission as: “to work in support of forum member governments, to enhance the economic and social well-being of the people of the South Pacific by fostering cooperation between governments and between international agencies, and by representing the interests of forum members in ways agreed by the forum.” It has met annually since 1971, when the forum was founded as the South Pacific Forum. 
Sixteen states in the South Pacific are members of the Pacific Islands Forum: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
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Reflecting the predominant geographic nature of the forum’s members, the theme for this year’s summit is: “Small and Far: Challenges for Growth.” While each of the members have small land masses and populations (Australia aside), their combined sovereignty covers an area of 8,538,293 sq km (3,296,653 sq mi), making their agreement over maritime concerns important not only for members of the forum, but also for states outside the forum with interests in the South Pacific. 
This geographic reality is usually reflected in the priority of regional fisheries and shipping lanes on the forum’s agenda. However, in recent years the impact of climate change has begun to dominate discussions within the forum. 
The smaller states within the South Pacific have become a leading voice on the global stage on the issue of climate change and its potential effects on human security, as well as the environment. Pacific Island nations take climate change extremely seriously, with some forecasts predicting a potential loss of territory due to rising sea levels. For Tuvalu, a country whose highest point is only 4 meters above sea level, rising sea levels are very real threat to its existence.  
This puts them at great odds with the region’s main power. Low-lying Pacific Islands deem Australia’s continued reliance on coal, as both a source of energy and a major export, a menace. Australia remains the third largest producer of coal in the world (behind China and the United States), and the world’s largest exporter of the fossil fuel, with no intention of shifting these positions. 
The most prominent external issue for the forum will remain its interest in the Indonesian province of West Papua. In June this year the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu informed the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva that they were very concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in West Papua. While representatives from West Papua have no involvement in the forum, many of the Melanesian states like the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea maintain a strong ethnic solidarity with the Indonesian province, and pay special attention to developments there. 
At last year’s Forum in Port Moresby a decision was reached to organize a fact finding mission to West Papua. However, Jakarta indicated it would not welcome any delegation, and had problems with the use of the term “fact-finding.” However, West Papuan leaders in exile remain hopeful that a push for similar pressure on Indonesia will develop from this year’s forum. However, with Australia keen to maintain friendly relations with Indonesia, it is doubtful Canberra will add too much of its weight to these concerns. 
The other major concern for the forum will be the continued negotiations of the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (known as PACER Plus). There is a developing consensus among the smaller Pacific Islands states that this agreement would not promote further economic development. Given that these island states already have tariff-free and duty-free access to the Australian and New Zealand markets the PACER Plus agreement would do little to enhance this reality. 
Fiji’s Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, has stated there “aren’t enough pluses” for Fiji to warrant signing the agreement, and the PNG Trade Minister has flatly stated he is “not interested” in it.  Of greater importance to the Pacific Island states is freer labor mobility for unskilled and semi-skilled workers within the Australian and New Zealand markets. This is seen as having a far more direct positive economic impact for these countries. 
The forum will conclude on Sunday September 11 with its traditional communiqué of conclusions reached to be published shortly after.

Latin American Herald Tribune

2) Pacific Islands Forum to Focus on Climate Change and West Papua

SYDNEY, Australia - Climate change and the situation in Indonesia's West Papua province will dominate the agenda of the 47th leaders' summit of the Pacific Islands Forum, being held in Pohnpei in Micronesia on Friday.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a $229 million aid to help the Pacific islands combat climate change and improve disaster resistance capabilities, according to news portal

Australia, the forum's most powerful country, was recently criticized by nonprofit Oxfam for not allocating enough aid towards efforts to fight climate change in the South Pacific (which have been suffering the effects of climate change and extreme weather phenomenon) since 2010.

New Zealand, another country in the forum, has also been criticized for a 20 percent cut in its contribution since 2013, according to Pacific Islands News Association.

Oxfam's Executive Director in New Zealand, Rachael Le Mesurier, said the country's funding model for the fight against climate change is very business-oriented and does not benefit families, who are bearing the brunt of the phenomenon and who needs more resources to adapt to the rise in sea levels - which contaminates their water sources and snatches their cultivable lands - as well as powerful cyclones hitting the region.

The summit will also discuss issues related to West Papua, a Christian-majority Indonesian region, and home to a separatist conflict.

Radio New Zealand reported the forum plans to renew its call to Indonesia to allow international observers in the region, a proposal Jakarta had turned down last year.

It said the forum is also expected to consider West Papua's request to be accepted as a member, besides encouraging its inclusion into the United Nations Decolonization Committee, or C24.

Meanwhile, Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, whose country was readmitted into the forum following elections, has declined to attend the forum in protest over the presence of Australia and New Zealand.

Other countries at the forum include the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. 

3) Palm oil producer caught flouting codes of conduct
By Marine Jobert | Le Journal de l’Environnement
8 September 2016 at 8:58:13 PM AEST (updated: 8 September 2016 at 9:57:47 PM AEST)

A coalition of NGOs documenting deforestation in Indonesia has cast doubt on the effectiveness of the code of conduct used by the palm oil industry. EurActiv’s partner Journal de l’Environnement reports.
It is the fire season in Indonesia: voluntary forest fires, lit by companies to clear tropical forest to make way for plantations of oil palms as far as the eye can see.
The NGO coalition Mighty has accused Korindo, a Korean conglomerate with large interests in the wood industry and wind turbine construction, of being behind massive deforestation operations in Insodesia. The NGOs used footage from cameras mounted on drones, satellite photos and videos taken in the provinces of Papua and North Maluku to draw attention to the destruction of 50,000 hectares of virgin forest, home to birds of paradise, tree-kangaroos and thousands of other species.
Code of conduct
Forest fires are prohibited under Indonesian rules, which have failed to discourage Korindo. But the NGOs hope an economic argument will prove more effective. Since the first revelations in early August, two major buyers of palm oil, Wilmar and Musim Mas, have suspended their orders from Korindo over the non-respect of the “No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation” code of conduct, adopted by the big palm oil producers several years ago.
The true face of the industry
“This investigation shows the true face of the palm oil industry in Indonesia even after No Deforestation policies,” Glenn Hurowitz, the US campaign director for Mighty, told the Guardian.
“The current, mostly confidential company-by-company system is inadequate. We urgently need a transparent, systematic approach, as well as further action by government and prosecutors,” he added.
Indonesian sovereignty
The Indonesian government has announced that it will send investigators to the affected areas. In June, Singapore threatened its big neighbour with legal action over the toxic fumes it is forced to endure from illegal forest fires every year. But for Indonesia, this is an issue of sovereignty that it hopes to solve without outside interference.

4) Plantations get military, police backup
Jakarta | Fri, September 9 2016 | 07:41 am

Hans Nicholas Jong The Jakarta Post
The involvement of police and military personnel in protecting plantations has come under scrutiny as their role may have become a stumbling block in efforts to curb forest fires. 

Not only have security force personnel often been reported to side with companies in land disputes against residents, but the police have also recently terminated investigations into last year’s fires in Riau. 

The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) has called on President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to evaluate the National Police and the Indonesian Military (TNI) conduct in relation to their support for private businesses, especially those that have violated environmental regulations. 

“Corporations always use the state apparatus to ease their business, protect their concessions and evict people. We see this everywhere and we believe the situation is getting worse,” Walhi chairwoman Nur “Yaya” Hidayati told The Jakarta Post. 

According to her, corporations are becoming more aggressive in resisting law enforcement and investigations into alleged illegal practices because they are backed up by the police and the military.

“We can see corporate power getting stronger. For instance, there have already been two cases of investigators from the Environment and Forestry Ministry being blocked by companies [in the course of investigations],” Yaya said.

The first case happened last year, when members of Walhi’s South Sumatra branch along with ministry staff investigated a dispute between local rubber planters and a timber plantation at Bumi Makmur village in Musirawas Regency.

As they reached the location, they saw company staff accompanied by police officers evicting people from their rubber plantations, said Walhi member Hadi Jatmiko.

When the team of investigators asked for the eviction to be halted and invited the company for discussions, company staff and the police abused the team, describing them as agents provocateurs and arrested the four members of the team, who were later beaten, according to Hadi. 

Musirawas Police chief Sr. Comr. Nurhadi Handayani admitted that police had secured the location, by request of the plantation company, but denied anyone was beaten.

According to a report from the Agrarian Reform Consortium (KPA), the police and the military have long been involved in agrarian conflicts, often siding with businesses. In 2015, there were 35 cases of companies committing violence, 21 cases involving the police, 16 involving the military, 10 involving other government institutions, eight cases in which gangs were involved and three cases in which local communities were responsible.

In 2014, police were responsible for most violent agrarian conflicts with 34 cases, followed by local communities with 19, companies with 12, six cases involving gangs and military involvement in five cases.

Nur described this data as ironic given that the police and the military are supposed to protect and defend the people.

TNI spokesman Maj. Gen. Tatang Sulaiman said the military did not allow active military personnel to work for private companies as the monitoring or protection of plantations was not the duty of the military. “There are many who work for palm oil companies as well as oil and gas companies. But they’re no longer active in the military. They resigned from the military because maybe they no longer saw a future in the career,” he told the Post.

The forestry ministry’s law enforcement director-general, Rasio Ridho Sani, also denied the involvement of police officers or TNI officials in backing up palm oil companies involved in illegally clearing land. “In the case involving PT APSL [Andika Permata Sawit Lestari], the police worked really well. When we were held hostage, the police protected us and helped us to get away from the area,” he said.

Rasio was referring to a hostage incident last week, when seven ministry officials were held hostage and threatened with death by a group of people while investigating a forest fire in Riau. (win)

5) Bainamarama boycotting Pacific Islands Forum in protest of NZ’s domination
Michael Sergel and Frances Cook,  Section Politics,  Publish Date Saturday, 10 September 2016, 7:45AM

The deep freeze between New Zealand and Fiji could soon begin to thaw, thanks to a rugby match.
Fijian leader Frank Bainamarama is boycotting the Pacific Islands Forum currently underway in Micronesia, in protest at what he says is New Zealand’s attempt to dominate the proceedings.
Prime Minister John Key said they expected that, but are still inviting Bainamarama to visit New Zealand later this year, in what would be his first visit since the coup.
"When I went over there I invited them to come back. There's an All Black test match later in the year that may be of interest to him. So it's possible he'll be back then but obviously subject to his diary and final confirmation."
Meanwhile, French Polynesia and New Caledonia are pushing for a stronger voice in the Pacific.
The Pacific Islands Forum is getting underway in Micronesia today, with our Prime Minister and Foreign Minister joining talks at the Leaders’ Retreat.
Foreign Minister Murray McCully said French Polynesia and New Caledonia both want to become full members of the forum.
"That's something that was high on the agenda of the Foreign Minister's meeting recently in Suva and something the leaders will consider at the retreat."

6) Papuan Women Support of Liquor Restrictions

7 September 2016

Biak, Jubi – Hundreds of women in Biak Numfor, Papua, urged the local authorities to endorse the regional regulation restricting the sale of alcoholic beverages.
A woman activist from Yayasan Beatrix Biak, Agustina Klorway, said in Biak on Monday (5/9/2016) the protest was to support the policy of the Regent Thomas Ondy who officially banned the circulation of liquor since 1 August 2015.
“We hope the local parliament could immediately ratify the regional regulation on the restriction of liquors as a legal basis in the monitoring on the ground,” she said. The demand was also backed by community groups and the Christian women fellowship of GKI Biak Selatan
She said alcohol had given rise to domestic violence, assaults, immoral acts leading to other crimes.
The support of women towards the regulation, according to her, will be expressed through a peaceful demonstration on Monday, 5 September 2016 in the local parliament office and Biak Regent Office.
Earlier, the Regent Thomas Ondy already revoked the License for Sale for 58 stalls, shops and cafés and retailers of liquors.
“Biak Numfor Government also froze the operational licenses of three liquor distributors in Biak Numfor region,” he said.
However, up to Monday, the activity of liquors selling in many stalls and shops are still running in secret although the license has been revoked as instructed by the regent. (*/rom)
7) CONTRAS Urges Papua Police to Speed Up Probe into Simon Warikar’s Case 
6 September 2016

Biak, Jubi – The human rights group Kontras has urged Papua Police Chief Inspector General Paulus Waterpauw to complete the investigation into the death of civilian Simoan Warikar allegedly at the hands of two police officers.
Director LBH Kyadiwun Biak, Imanuel Rumayom, SH in Biak on Monday (5/9/2016) revealed a letter signed by Kontras Coordinator Haris Azhar with a copy to law enforcement agencies and Biak Police Chief, is expected to accelerate the completion of the case.
“The completion of the case in accordance to the criminal law upon the judicial court for the police officers who perpetrated the violence is the expectation of the victim’s family,” Rumayom said.
He admitted the response of Biak Police Chief Hadi Wahyudi towards the handling of this case of alleged mistreatment is good so far. The perpetrators also have been detained for 21 days. “As victim’s attorney, I oversee the legal process to be run in accordance with the law. My client charged the perpetrators to be taken to the public trial for their misconduct,” said Rumayom.
Simon Warikar, according to him, is now under treatment after the surgery at Biak Public Hospital a few days ago. (*/rom)


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