Sunday, June 28, 2015

Fiji, PNG lead betrayal, but still West Papuans triumph

A massive crowd at Timika, Papua, greets the MSG decision to grant West Papuans observer status.
Image: Free West Papua Campaign
COMMENT By David Robie

THE Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders’ summit in Honiara this week must go down as the most shameful since the organisation was founded two decades ago.

It had the opportunity to take a fully principled stand on behalf of the West Papuan people, brutally oppressed by Indonesia after an arguably “illegal” occupation for more than a half century.

Host nation Solomon Islands Prime Minister and chair Mannaseh Sogareve set the tone by making an impassioned plea at the start of the summit, predicting a “test” for the MSG. He said it would be an issue of human rights and the rule of law.

In the end, the MSG failed the test with a betrayal of the people of West Papua by the two largest members. Although ultimately it is a decision by consensus.

Instead, the MSG granted Indonesia a “promotion” to associate member status – an Asian country, not even Melanesian?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Rainbow Warrior and NZ’s Pacific nuclear-free legacy

Alistar Kata's Rainbow Warrior report for Pacific Media Watch.

A PROGRESS report on the new Eyes of Fire – it's very different from previous editions, with an even greater emphasis on the Rongelap and Polynesian casualties of American and French nuclear testing in the Pacific.

The new Eyes of Fire ... out on the 30th anniversary
of the Rainbow Warrior bombing, July 10.
New Zealand media has too much preoccupation with the 1985 bombing of the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland, and has largely ignored the greater Pacific tragedy.

Outrageous as this attack by French secret service agents was, it pales into insignificance alongside the atrocities inflicted on Kanak independence activists at the same time, such as the Hienghène massacre, the assassination of Éloi Machoro and the bloody ending to the 1988 Ouvea cave siege as exposed in the 2011 docu-drama Rebellion.

The publishers describe the new Eyes of Fire as being as being the "definitive work on Western treachery in the Pacific".

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Pacific nuclear struggle didn’t finish with end to tests – new wave activism

 A Pacific Media Watch report by Alistar Kata.

AN innovative community publisher has teamed up with Café Pacific and the Pacific Media Centre to launch a dynamic microsite to honour the courage and commitment of the Rainbow Warrior nuclear-free campaigners.

And to inspire activism for the environmental causes still to be won – like seriously addressing climate change before it’s too late.

Or continuing the struggle for the Rongelap, Tahitian and other islanders whose lives have been ravaged by the legacy of nuclear testing. 

Little Island Press, which specialises in Pacific projects, has teamed up with author David Robie and the centre to collaborate with journalism and television students.

The digital microsite – “Eyes of Fire: 30 Years On” – has gone live this week. Over the next few weeks some 13 news stories and five full studio interviews will be rolled out on the website or on the PMC’s YouTube channel.

The campaign will run until the 30th anniversary of the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior on 10 July 1985 and climax with publication of the new edition of Eyes of Fire.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Time to end this noose around the Fiji media’s neck

Professor Biman Prasad ... advocate for Fiji press freedom. Photo: Repúblika
PROFESSOR BIMAN PRASAD has long been outspoken about the state of the media in Fiji. He had a simple but staunch line throughout the election campaign about the Media Decree: It had to go.

Back in 2008, two years after the Bainimarama military coup, he teamed up with University of the South Pacific journalism academic Shailendra Singh, to produce a courageous book pulling together a collection of papers about democracy and the media in Fiji.

So it was no surprise that would he would test the decree by tabling a motion in the Fiji Parliament last week to remove or modify the invidious and misguided legislation.

And although it was defeated,  24-17, it was interesting to see the number of absentions (9 on the government side). The motion wasn’t defeated as heavily as it might have been.

Worth another shot soon.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Real media freedom or MSG ‘brownie points’ over West Papua?

Freed West Papuan political prisoner Numbungga Telenggen (left) is hugged by a supporter
in Jayapura at the weekend. Image: HRW/AFP
MEDIA freedom in West Papua? The end of the international media blackout in the most repressed corner of the Melanesian Pacific, far from the gaze of neighbouring nations with the exception of Vanuatu?

This is what Indonesian President Joko Widodo effectively declared in Jayapura last Saturday just days before a critical meeting between the Indonesian observers and a Melanesian Spearhead Group while the West Papuans are lobbying to join the club.

But hold on … Promising sign though this is, Café Pacific says we ought to be viewing this pledge more critically and to take a longer term view to see if there are any real changes on the ground.

Some media groups, such as the Pacific Freedom Forum and Pacific Islands Media Association, have responded with premature enthusiasm.    

“Freeing political prisoners and foreign press access to West Papua will be the biggest regional story this year - and the next,” declared the PFF.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Israeli architecture of destruction – and the 'hidden violence' against Palestine

 Alistar Kata's report on the visit by Amira Hass. Video: Pacific Media Centre

COINCIDING with the visit by renowned Haaretz journalist Amira Hass to New Zealand in the past couple of weeks, Al Jazeera has been running a repeat of the brilliant programme “The Architecture of Violence” in the Rebel Architecture series.

In this, architect and communicator par excellence Eyal Weizman explains how Israel has transformed urban warfare and how the techniques are used to subjugate Palestinians.

Travelling across the illegal settlements and roads of the West Bank and also along the Separation Wall, Weizman shows how the controlled use of architecture is deployed to consolidate the Israeli grip on Palestine.

"Architecture and the built environment is a kind of a slow violence,” he says.

“The occupation is an environment that was conceived to strangulate Palestinian communities, villages and towns, to create an environment that would be unliveable for the people there."

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