Friday, September 28, 2007
Saturday, September 22, 2007
The commission, chaired by former Papua New Guinea National Court judge Brian Brunton, released an interim report but did not name the individuals or political groups involved.
Radio NZ International reported the commission as saying a number of leading politicians, political groups and organisations were involved in executing a preconceived plan for a regime change following Snyder Rini’s election as prime minister.
The commission has also found that the Solomons government could be liable for damages of US$20 million for the loss of businesses destroyed during the riots. The report's executive summary says:
There is evidence that the 18th April 2006 civil unrest in Honiara was not spontaneous as was originally claimed but rather the event has the hallmark of having been orchestrated and planned in a broader sense of that word. There is now some evidence connecting the identity of a number of leading politicians, political groups and organisations who had in one way or another contributed to the execution of the planning for a regime change, should the previous government or elements of it return to power. The commission’s investigation is not at this stage sufficiently convinced it is in a position in which it is proper to name those individuals, political groups and organisations that were responsible for the planning.
In an earlier interim report in July, the inquiry found there had been failures by Australian police commanders of RAMSI leading up to the riots which also left dozens of Australians police injured.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Amirah is a young progressive Muslim woman, with a history of senior leadership in the student movement in Manila, and is a leader in groups such as the Moro Christian People's Alliance. She has an international profile. In March 2007 she was part of a Philippine human rights delegation which toured North America and Europe, drawing international attention to the human rights crisis at home.
The Philippine military has been waging a full blown conventional war in the southern Philippines since the 1970s (simultaneous to the better known and equally long war against the Communist guerrillas throughout the whole country). Right now that war is seeing some of its heaviest fighting in decades, with direct involvement from the US Special Forces who have been
stationed in the southern Philippines since 2002. It has had hugely negative consequences for the whole Muslim population in the South (including Amirah and her family) and it has now become part and parcel of Bush's global "War on Terror" against "Islamic terrorists". Indeed, he has proclaimed the Philippines to be "The Second Front" in that war.
Dates: October 23-November 1, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
The District Court of The Hague reportedly hasn't precluded him from being prosecuted on murder charges. Spokesperson Wim de Bruin of the national prosecutor's office told the Inquirer: "The charges are not being dropped. The investigation will continue." The Malacañang is still hoping that the case against the communist leader will proceed.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
United Nations adopts Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples
13 September 2007 – The General Assembly today adopted a landmark declaration outlining the rights of the world’s estimated 370 million indigenous people and outlawing discrimination against them – a move that followed more than two decades of debate.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been approved after 143 Member States voted in favour, 11 abstained and four – Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – voted against the text.
The Declaration emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.
It also prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them, and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development.
ROSEMARY BANKS (New Zealand), speaking in explanation of vote, noted that New Zealand was one of the few countries that from the start had supported the elaboration of a declaration that promoted and protected the rights of indigenous peoples. In New Zealand, indigenous rights were of profound importance, and were integral to its identity as a nation State and as a people. New Zealand was unique: a treaty concluded at Waitangi between the Crown and New Zealand’s indigenous peoples in 1840 was a founding document of the country. Today, New Zealand had one of the largest and most dynamic indigenous minorities in the world, and the Treaty of Waitangi had acquired great significance in the country’s constitutional
arrangements, law and Government activity.
The place of Maori in society, their grievances and disparities affecting them were central and enduring features of domestic debate and Government action, she said. New Zealand also had an unparalleled system for redress, accepted by both indigenous and non-indigenous citizens alike. Nearly 40 per cent of the New Zealand fishing quota was owned by Maori, as a
result. Claims to over half of New Zealand’s land area had been settled. For that reason, New Zealand fully supported the principles and aspirations of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The country had been implementing most of the standards in the Declaration for many years. She shared the view that the Declaration was long overdue, and the concern that indigenous peoples in many parts of the world continued to be deprived of basic human rights.
New Zealand was proud of its role in improving the text over the past three years, turning the draft into one that States would be able to uphold and promote, she said. It was, therefore, a matter of deep regret that it was unable to support the text before the Assembly today. Unfortunately, New Zealand had difficulties with a number of provisions of the text. In particular, four provisions in the Declaration were fundamentally incompatible with New Zealand’s constitutional and legal arrangements, the Treaty of Waitangi, and the principle of governing for the good of all its citizens, namely article 26 on lands and resources, article 28 onredress, articles 19 and 32 on a right of veto over the State.
The provision on lands and resources could not be implemented in New Zealand, she said. Article 26 stated that indigenous peoples had a right to own, use, develop or control lands and territories that they had traditionally owned, occupied or used. For New Zealand, the entire country was potentially caught within the scope of the article, which appeared to requirerecognition of rights to lands now lawfully owned by other citizens, both indigenous andnon-indigenous, and did not take into account the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the indigenous peoples concerned.
The taking of the defence portfolio by the Prime Minister and the suppression of the report, all conjure up images reminiscent of the Watergate Affair in the United States – those of us who were alive in the 1970's (are familiar with this). The Watergate Affair that led to the resignation of a president of the United States few steps ahead of impeachment. One can’t help but be reminded (that) the whole (Moti) saga is so reminiscent, for those of us who were around in the 1970s.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
The decision comes almost five years after Ahmed Zaoui arrived in New Zealand and four years after the Refugee Status Appeals Authority concluded that he should be granted asylum following his experiences in Algeria and in exile. Says Amnesty International's executive director in NZ:
The Ahmed Zaoui case has highlighted the fragility of our commitment as a country to basic human rights. Too many New Zealanders, including members of Parliament who should be more aware than most of the importance of human rights, were content to ignore the August 2003 decision of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority and condemn Mr Zaoui without access to the facts.
Too many were prepared to make cheap jibes about how a survivor of torture who had been in enforced exile for a decade and kept for 10 months in solitary confinement in a New Zealand prison was "abusing New Zealand hospitality", "costing the taxpayers too much", and was "free to jump on a plane at any time". Mr Zaoui's counsel has had to fight summary justice all the way.
An apology is now due to Ahmed Zaoui for New Zealand's poor handling of his case. And his family should be able to join him at the earliest opportunity, as called for by UNHCR. As Selwyn Manning said on KiwiFM, the five-year struggle for justice for Ahmed Zaoui as a refugee revealed the ugly side of NZ.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Firstly, we have to shift our minds away from the narrow, exclusivist, partisan and self-serving political agenda and begin to see the interest of the nation as paramount. That is the bottom line.
We all have our party, religious, organisational, vanua and personal loyalties and interests, however, at this point in time, these should be subservient to the common national good. Despite official optimism, our economy is not doing well, investor confidence is down, socio-political relations are at their lowest and national moral is in tatters.
Yet despite all these we are still trying to win political and moral points over our adversaries as if that will solve our collective problems when the opposite is in fact happening.
Secondly, on a more practical note, we need to identify the good suggestions from both sides and synthesise them into a common proposal for national reconciliation. Both the proposed People's Charter and Ratu Inoke's proposal contain points worth considering and discussing.
Thirdly, we urgently need to put in place a reconciliation process as well as a framework for political stability for the future before the election. To do that after the election, although constitutionally legitimate, would be politically too late. Since the hurt and pain are very deeply embedded, the election could become an arena for expressions of anger, vindictivenessand vengeance and these have the potential to rear their ugly heads again after the election.
Historically, political instabilities in Fiji have only happened after elections. The pre-election differences, antagonism and volatility will haunt us once again after the next election if we are not careful. That's why it is important to put in place a reconciliation and post-election governance framework we all agree on well before the election. - Fiji Times photo with Ratuva article
Sunday, September 9, 2007
First the good news: Charges against Tonga's five People's Representatives accused over last November's rioting in Nukualofa, Tonga, have been cut back. The bad news? The outspoken MPs are still the Tongan establishment's main scapegoats for the rioting. They're now still facing one charge of sedition each. Chief Justice Anthony Ford has announced the drop of some charges in the Supreme Court.
According to Matangi Tonga, pro-democracy advocates 'Akilisi Pohiva, 'Isileli Pulu, Clive Edwards, 'Uliti Uata and Lepolo Taunisila, first appeared in the Nuku'alofa Supreme Court on July 18 and were charged with one count of sedition and six counts of abetment to cause disruption resulting in the destruction of six different premises, including the Molisi Tonga Supermarket, Pacific Royale Hotel, Tungi Arcade, Shoreline Building, Fung Shing Supermarket and the Leiola Duty Free Shop in the November 16 riot.
Chief Justice Ford told the court that it had received notice two days ago that Crown Law intended to withdraw the previous indictments and file new indictments of sedition only against each accused. All five accused were all present in court, pleading not guilty. Pictured: Scoop photo of 'Akilisi Pohiva
Friday, September 7, 2007
Bainimarama and his band of merry men have now confirmed beyond any doubt of Fiji's status as a banana republic.
Until now, the people of Fiji lived in hope that the Fiji Military and it supporters and apologists were genuinely interested in helping move the country forward.
This latest action by the military and its installed puppet government leaves no doubt that they are only interested in keeping themselves in power.
People should be allowed to voice their opinions freely and not be held hostage by the gun.
The only positive way forward for Fiji is for all leaders (political, communal, military, business and religious) to work together and find common ground. By rejecting or ignoring certain factions or sectors will only delay a feasible solution to Fiji's problems.
It is the time for negotiations to start, goodwill to prevail, and a return to democracy.
The Coalition dor Democracy has called on the Fiji military to respect the rule of law and to follow constitutional processes to help resolve issues and disagreements.
The CDF is a group made up of former Fiji residents, and concerned New Zealanders. It has been active since 1987 in support of the fight for the rights of Fiji people and Fiji democracy.
Contact Nik Naidu.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
High Court Judge Justice Roger Coventry also ruled that the Attorney General as sixth defendant be liable to payout $250,000 plus five per cent interest.
The army officers whom Justice Coventry had previously found to be represented by the Attorney General have been ordered to pay Anirudh a further $150,000 plus five per cent interest.
University of the South Pacific academic Anirudh, an outspoken campaigner for human rights, was abducted from his home in Rewa Street, Suva, by five soldiers from the Special Operations Security Unit and taken to the forests of Colo-i-Suva where he was hooded, beaten up and tortured.
The five soldiers involved, including former Special Air Services officer Captain Sotia Ponijese, pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 12 months in jail. In 1993 Dr Singh took the case to the High Court claiming general, special and exemplary damages for his pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
Ironically, the judgment came on the same day that the current regime in Fiji reimposed its state of emergency and a further clamp on free speech!
Inset: Auckland Star clipping of one of my stories about the abduction and torture of Anirudh Singh, 17 December 1990.
High Court awards $400,000 plus to Dr Singh
Keep quiet, Qarase told
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
What are The BOBs?
For the next four weeks, internet users are invited to go to www.thebobs.com to nominate the best blogs in 15 categories. The competition is open to blogs, podcasts and videoblogs in the following 10 languages - Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, Farsi, French, German, Portugese, Russian and Spanish.
The BOBs are the world’s biggest international blog awards and offer a broad overview of the blogosphere, the rapidly evolving world of weblogs, videoblogs and podcasts. The winners are chosen by the public and a jury. Last year, more than 5,500 blogs were nominated and more than 100,000 Internet users took part in the online voting.
Monday, September 3, 2007
Tariana Turia: A true agent of transformation has left us. Syd has lived his life with a totally unswerving commitment to revolution.
Some forty years ago in 1968, it was Syd, the son of the 1937 All Black and Māori Battalion veteran Everard Jackson, who challenged the Federation of New Zealand Māori Students that All Black tours to South Africa should be opposed as a stand against apartheid.
His leadership of Ngā Tamatoa in the 1970s, and their staunch advocacy of Brown Power, laid the foundation for a dynamic period of Māori renaissance. Syd Jackson was the former president of the Auckland Maori Students Union and activist group Nga Tamatoa.
Pita Sharples: We think of the inspiration of Syd in firmly placing Te Tiriti o Waitangi on the political agenda in all spheres. He spearheaded the drive for learning te reo Māori, bringing social awareness to the marginalisation of Māori in New Zealand while at the same time being such a proud advocate of tino rangatiratanga.
Syd has made an enormous political impact on Aotearoa, particularly through his role in the union movement. He had the keen intellect to grasp complex issues, a quality which you would see coming through in campaigns such as encouraging Libya to boycott trade with New Zealand, or protesting against APEC.
In more recent years, he brought that same passion and zeal to the health movement, establishing Turuki Healthcare as a pioneering organisation to deliver affordable and accessible healthcare for the people of South Auckland.
Turia: The tragic irony is that right up until the end, Syd pursued his crusade against cancer not just for his own powerful determination to live but also to argue for the rights for all Māori cancer sufferers.
Syd will be very, very sadly missed. His Liberation Talkback radioshow gave us all heart to act, to take a stand, to look after our people.
Our love and compassion goes to his darling Deirdre, the Jackson whānau, Ngāti Kahunungu and Ngāti Porou who have shared a remarkable man with us - a man who truly dedicated his life to staying true to the kaupapa, to tino rangatiratanga. His legacy has been and will continue to be profound.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
DUTCH GOVERNMENT IS TORTURING PROFESSOR SISON;
JUDGE EXTENDS HIS DETENTION FOR 14 MORE DAYS
Julie De Lima, wife of Professor Sison, tried to see him last Thursday but was denied to see him. She said she also brought some medicines and warm clothes, but prison authorities said these were not allowed.
Professor Sison is being detained at the National Penitentiary in Scheveningen, a facility with was used by the Nazi's during World War II to imprison and torture Dutch resistance fighters. Committee Defend also said despite the weak evidence presented by the Dutch prosecutor in yesterday's remand hearing in The Hague , the Dutch judge extended the detention of Professor Sison to 14 more days.
Another hearing to examine the evidence has been set on Sept. 7. Committee Defend strongly condemned the torture being done to Professor Sison by the Dutch government and reiterated what it declared in an earlier statement that it will hold the Dutch
government responsible for any harm done to Professor Sison, including another possible kidnapping to bring him to a country outside the Netherlands. It also called on the Dutch government to end Sison's solitary confinement, allow visits from his wife, and access to his medicines and other basic necessities.
"What they are doing to Professor Sison, the way they treat him, violates his basic rights. He is still in the stage of being heard and investigated. What happened to the Dutch government's adherence to basic human rights?" said Dr. Jun Saturay of Committee Defend.
During the hearing yesterday at the Palace of Justice in the Hague, dozens of solidarity activists rallied outside the gates of the Justice building. They carried posters and shouted "Free Jose Maria Sison, now!". They sang songs and recited poems. Several Dutch and international media covered the rally.
"The persecution of Sison through the use of the judicial processes exposes the rottenness and corruption of the Dutch justice and political system," stressed W. Wijk, during a speech at the rally. He told Filipinos present that the fight for the rights and life of Professor Sison is also a fight of all freedom-loving and reasonable Dutch citizens.
The solidarity activists vowed to continue protest actions in support of Professor Sison and said they will rally again on Sept. 7, Sison's next hearing.
Analysis of state terrorism against Filipinos - background to the arrest
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