Saturday, October 21, 2017

Indonesian academic exchange an opportunity for unique collaboration

Universitas Gadjah Mada's Centre for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS)
meets AUT's Pacific Media Centre with a Sky Tower backdrop. Photo: PMC
From AUT University

Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie will next week join academics from around the world in a global professorial exchange with Indonesia's Universitas Gadjah Mada. In return, six academics from the progressive Yogyakarta university have visited Auckland University of Technology for the first communication and publication research collaboration of its kind in New Zealand.

The academics from Yogyakarta, led by Gadjah Mada University's Centre for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS) director Dr Hermin Indah Wahyuni, arrived in Auckland earlier this month for a two-week visit featuring workshops, seminars and joint research projects related to climate change.

They will also be collaborating with their newly published research journal IKAT, the PMC's 23-year-old Pacific Journalism Review and AUT Library's Tuwhera research platform on a major project involving ecological communication and Asia-Pacific maritime disasters.

Dr Robie is one of six academics invited by CESASS as part of the Indonesian government's World Class Professor (WCP) programme to strengthen international publication and research studies.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

PNG activist blogger Martyn Namorong protests online in defiance of gag order

PNG blogger Martyn Namorong ... gagged but not silenced. Image: MN Twitter
By Mong Palatino of Global Voices

A Papua New Guinea court has issued a gag order against Martyn Namorong, a prominent political blogger and activist accused of defaming Patilias Gamato, the country’s Electoral Commissioner.

Gamato this week sued Namorong after Namorong compared him to a "fruit" (tomato) on social media, as reported by Pacific Media Watch. When Namorong learned about the court order, he posted this image on Twitter before adding the above blue gag selfie image:


He added that he also needed a lawyer.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Gary Juffa: Why these PNG elections are taking us towards dictatorship

Oro Governor Gary Juffa speaking at a PNG campaign gathering ... explaining the qualities to look for in
national leadership. Image: JuffaFB
By Gary Juffa, Oro Governor and an opposition MP writing for Asia Pacific Report.

I SUSPECT that these Papua New Guinea elections have been so deliberately set to fail, leaving much room for fraud and confusion, and distracting from what is really going on – the establishment of a dictatorship.

Already Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has his own special police unit that flies around Papua New Guinea escorting him in his private airlines, he has a special army unit of 40 exclusively for his callout, he controls the media and Public Service, and, it seems, the Police and Defence commands — and perhaps the judiciary -- the signs and red flags are blinking bright red now…

Yet many people do not see it. We are inching closer towards dictatorship and the ensuing bloodshed and violence that must come from the hostility towards it. But, like lemmings and sheep, we are led to that reality with little resistance at all. Is this the Papua New Guinea we all believed in once upon a time?

Last Wednesday in Oro province, provided a demonstration of how much the PNG government is not for PNG.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

'Voice of the voiceless' - Al Jazeera's response over Saudi-led blog gag pressure

The Doha headquarters of the global news network. Photo: Al Jazeera
An important media freedom statement: An open letter from Al Jazeera
Republished on Café Pacific from the Doha-based global news network

OVER two decades ago, Al Jazeera Arabic was launched with a simple mission: to provide reliable information to viewers across the Arab world. Ten years later, in 2006, Al Jazeera English began broadcasting with the same mission - to provide people around the world with accurate, balanced and impartial information.

When Al Jazeera Arabic went on air in 1996, it was unique in the Arab world. Most media in the region at the time were state-controlled and often unchallenged mouthpieces for the different rulers and governments in the region. Al Jazeera was different, a truly independent voice, with a mission to hear and report the human stories that were otherwise ignored; to cover events with balance and integrity; and to hold power to account.

Al Jazeera Arabic quickly gained a huge and loyal audience across the region. The information we provided became a lifeline to millions of people who wanted to know what was really going on around them.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Rights groups condemn ‘cowardly censorship’ bid over Al Jazeera


Flashback to the US-led coalition invasion of Iraq in 2003 -- how the rolling 24 hour news station Al Jazeera played a key role in the  battle for hearts and minds and has made many political enemies. "We are surrounded by despots," says fiesty presenter Faisal Al-Qaseem. Video: Journeyman Pictures

Pacific Media Watch/Asia Pacific Report


PRESS freedom and human rights advocates, journalists and social media users have condemned a demand by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries to shut Al Jazeera television network and other media outlets in Qatar.

The Arab states reportedly issued a 13-point list on Friday, demanding the closure of all news outlets that it funds, directly and indirectly, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al Araby Al Jadeed, Mekameleen and Middle East Eye.

“We are really worried about the implication and consequences of such requirements if they will ever be implemented,” said Alexandra El Khazen, head of Middle East and North Africa desk at Reporters Without Borders, a non-profit organisation promoting press freedom.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Paris, Khazen said: “We are against any kind of censorship and measures that could threaten the diversity in the Arab media landscape and pluralism, for instance.

“The Arabic media landscape should make room and accept the broadest range of viewpoints instead of adopting repressive measures against alternative viewpoints that are found to be critical of some governments.”

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Celebrating 30 years of Nuclear-Free Aotearoa -- the Pacific connection

Auckland mayor Phil Goff admiring a photograph by John Miller taken of the politician when he was a student activist campaigning for a nuclear-free New Zealand. Goff spoke at the "Celebrating 30 Years of Nuclear-Free Aotearoa/New Zealand" at the Depot Artspace in Devonport today. Image" David Robie
Reflections from David Robie

CONGRATULATIONS everybody for that tremendous achievement three decades ago. And thank you to WILPF Aotearoa and Ruth Coombes for inviting me. It was literally a David and Goliath struggle to make New Zealand nuclear-free against United States and global pressure – not just David Lange, prime minister at the time, although he was vital too.

The real “David” was the ordinary people of New Zealand who exerted extraordinary pressure on the government to deliver. The barrages of letters from citizens, constant lobbying by peace campaigners, local councils – such as right here in Devonport -- declaring themselves nuclear-free, the door-knocking petitioners – and, of course, the spectacular protests.

However, in my few minutes I would like to talk about the Pacific context, as this was my background. While the New Zealand campaign and success was tremendously inspirational for the Pacific, it should not be forgotten that some small Pacific countries and communities were actually ahead of the game.

Some examples:

Thursday, May 11, 2017

An Indonesian oasis of progressive creativity emerges in culture city


Dr Max Lane, pictured here with Faiza Mardzoeki, talks about his project to establish a community and activist library for the student city of Yogyakarta in Indonesia. Video: Café Pacific

By David Robie in Yogyakarta

A VISION for a progressive activists, writers and researchers retreat in the lush outskirts of Indonesia’s most cultural city, Yogyakarta, is close to becoming reality.

Unfinished Nation ... one of Dr Max Lane's
many books.
The Indonesian Community and Activists Library (ICAL) is already an impressive “shell” in the front garden of Australian author and socio-political analyst, intellectual and consultant Max Lane, arguably the most knowledgeable English-language writer on Indonesian affairs.

Dr Lane, who has been writing and commenting about cultural and political developments in Indonesia, Philippines, Timor-Leste and his homeland since the 1970s, is delighted that completing the centre is so close.

“We have almost completed this building, the library, which will have a reading room, an office, and also some accommodation for those who would like to stay for a few days, or even longer to use the library,” he says, gesturing towards the empty rooms at the complex in the rice-producing and tourist village of Ngepas.

“The library will have about 4000 to 5000 books in the field of social sciences, humanities, history, feminism and so on.”

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Rave hospitality, but Indonesia fails West Papua with media freedom hypocrisy


Al Jazeera's coverage by Step Vaessen of the Papuan protest at WPFD2017 in Jakarta.

By David Robie in Jakarta 


INDONESIAN hospitality was given a rave notice this week for hosting World Press Freedom Day 2017, but it was also given a huge black mark for its “gagging” of free discussion over West Papua violations. 

Four days before the WPFD event got under way, prominent Papuan journalist Victor Mambor had warned in the New Internationalist that Indonesian double standards had imposed a silence over West Papua.

Even a Papuan protest outside the Jakarta Conference Centre venue was kept at the margins, ensuring most of the 1300 journalists, media academics and communication policy makers from 90 countries were unaware of the shocking press and human rights violations that continue almost daily in the Melanesian provinces of Papua and West Papua (collectively known as West Papua).

Al Jazeera broadcast the most comprehensive television report from its Jakarta bureau on media freedom and West Papua with both Titro.id website and The Jakarta Post also carrying reports.

But for the rest, mostly silence.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Activists, media freedom advocates plan ‘global action’ for West Papua

"Gagged" West Papua. Instagram montage by tuckwolf_
By Pacific Media Watch

MEDIA freedom advocates and human rights activists are planning a “global action” for West Papua with demonstrations marking UNESCO world press freedom day events in Jakarta next week.

The advocates want to focus global attention on the “media blackout” long imposed by Indonesian authorities, in spite of promises to open up access to the two Melanesian provinces of Papua and West Papua adjoining independent Papua New Guinea.

The global action will begin on May 1 and run for three days climaxing with World Press Freedom Day on May 3.

Prominent UK-based West Papuan lawyer and civil rights campaigner Benny Wenda will then pay a visit to New Zealand the following week to raise awareness.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Latest West Papua journalist blacklisting another serious violation by Indonesia


French journalist Cyril Payen is still barred from entering Indonesia following his 2015 documentary film, Indonésie : la guerre oubliée des Papous (The Forgotten War in Papua).

Analysis by Tempo in Pacific Media Watch

THE blacklisting of Jack Hewson, a freelance journalist working for Al Jazeera, shows the Indonesian government’s paranoia towards foreign journalists.

The government should allow the foreign press to cover Papua. Preventing journalists from reporting the facts there is not a good testament on the claim of press freedom in Indonesia.

Hewson, who is based in Jakarta, planned to report on the Freeport issue from Timika in Papua. But after leaving for the Philippines last week, he learned that he has been banned from returning to Indonesia for no clear reason.

It transpires that the request for the ban came from the Indonesian Military (TNI).

According to the Immigration Directorate General, Hewson is suspected of “dangerous activities, endangering security and public order”.

Friday, April 7, 2017

LIVE: CAFCA’s Murray Horton on NZ independence and foreign policy

Graphic: Concept art for Planet of the Apes

Courtesy of the Pacific Media Centre and Asia Pacific Report

 

TIME FOR INDEPENDENCE FROM A CRUMBLING US EMPIRE - Murray Horton
The advent of President Donald Trump in the US provides an unprecedented opportunity to take a good, hard look at Aotearoa's place in the world.  And to ask the question - why are we still a loyal member of the American Empire?

As the old saying goes, you are judged by the company you keep.

CAFCA Murray Horton says it's time for this country to pull the plug, to finish the business started in the 1980s, which saw us out of ANZUS, and break the chains -- military, intelligence, economic and cultural -- that continue to bind us to the American Empire.

Speaker: Murray Horton, national organiser of the Christchurch-based Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA). Video in two parts.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Grief, repression, life and death in West Papua’s Highlands

Bonnie Etherington reading from her new book The Earth Cries Out at the Women's Bookshop in Ponsonby,
Auckland, this week. Photo: Del Abcede
THE Auckland launch of Bonnie Etherington’s thrilling debut novel, The Earth Cries Out, on grief, repression and life in another world -- the Highlands of West Papua -- this week was intriguing.

Along with the usual literati at events like this, were the human rights activists with “Free West Papua” emblazoned on their chests and the media freedom advocates intent on exposing the constant gags imposed on the West Papuans by the Indonesian military killing machine in defiance of an empty “open door” policy proclaimed by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in 2015.

The “Free West Papua” movement, fuelled by inspired and continuous social media exposes and debate, has been growing exponentially in recent years.

But you wouldn’t know that if you merely relied on the parochial New Zealand media, which doesn’t seem to have woken up to the human rights catastrophe happening on its Pacific doorstep. (Instead, global news services such as Al Jazeera English, or local services such as Asia Pacific Report and Radio NZ International are having to do the job for them).

Speaking at the Women’s Bookshop in deepest Ponsonby – a world away from the mountain jungle near Wamena in West Papua, Nelson-born Etherington gave three readings from her book, which she says is aimed at a more nuanced understanding of West Papua, one of them a chilling rendition of the fate of a woman accused and slain as an alleged “witch”.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

West Papuan students stage anti-Freeport protests in Indonesia


KBR audio report on the Jakarta protest in Bahasa. Audio: KBR/Asia Pacific Report

From the Pacific Media Centre's Asia Pacific Report.

West Papua is the ongoing Pacific human rights story that the mainstream New Zealand media ignores. Freeport in West Papua is the copper and gold mine - the world's second largest -- that the $20 billion NZ Superannuation Fund was forced to pull out of in 2012 after sustained protest about its "unethical" investment in the company.

PROTESTERS from the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) and religious pupils from an Islamic boarding school (pesantren) have faced off against each other at the Malan city hall in East Java.

Both groups held the protests on Friday under tight police security, as West Papuan protests over Freeport took place at several other places across Indonesia.

Scores of demonstrators from the AMP and the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-West Papua) unfurled banners and conveyed a number of demands, including the closure of the PT Freeport gold and copper mine in Papua.

They also brought banners with demands such as, “A joint action to support the Papua problem at the United Nations Human Rights Council” and “Close and Expel Freeport”. Protesters took turns in giving speeches.

The spokesperson for the AMP and FRI-West Papua, Wilson, said that the action represented Papuan society’s anxiety saying there are so many violations at PT Freeport that it was creating ever more misery in the land of Papua.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Worlds of Journalism global research project produces NZ findings

The latest Pacific Journalism Review ... publishing for 22 years. Image: Hans Tommy/AUT
From Asia Pacific Report

NEW ZEALAND journalists are working longer hours, and feeling more pressure, both ethically and resource-wise, than they were only two years ago, a new research survey has found.

A survey of New Zealand professional journalists, published today in Pacific Journalism Review, also shows for the first time that women journalists are paid less than men, despite making up the bulk of the workforce.

The survey shows female journalists, despite predominating in the profession, are significantly disadvantaged in terms of promotion and income.

The average before tax income of all journalists was $69,400 (in 2015 dollars) but the median after-tax salary of women was 26 percent lower than that of men of equivalent rank and experience.

READ MORE: Pacific Journalism Review on the new Tuwhera platform

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Febriana Firdaus, following in the courageous footsteps of Suara Papua editor Pogau


The last video posted by Oktovanius Pogau on his YouTube channel before he died early last year
- a KNPB rally in Jayapura posted on 31 May 2015.

WEST PAPUAN editor Oktovianus Pogau, who died last year aged just 23, would have been proud. An inaugural award for journalism courage named in honour of him has been presented to a brave young woman, freelance journalist and blogger Febriana Firdaus, who has been covering human rights abuses in Indonesia.

This published on Asia Pacific Report from the Pantau Foundation that has made the award and which has made a point of shunning cash prizes and extras to concentrate on the recognition:

Febriana Firdaus ... winner of the inaugural Pogau Award
for journalism courage. Image: Pantau Foundation
“We want to honour our colleague, Oktovianus Pogau, a smart and courageous journalist, who edited Suara Papua newspaper and highlighted human rights reporting. He passed away at a very young age – just 23 years old. We want to honour his legacy by establishing this Oktovianus Pogau award,” said Imam Shofwan, chairman of the Pantau Foundation in a speech to a small gathering at his office.

The Pantau Foundation selected Febriana Firdaus, a Jakarta journalist, to receive the inaugural award.

Firdaus covered Indonesia’s efforts to deal with the 1965-1966 massacres, disappearances and arbitrary detentions. She also covered discrimination, intimidation, and violence against the LGBT community in Indonesia.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Colourful, vibrant Aotearoa rally condemns Trump’s ‘racist, Islamophobic’ bans


Video and images by the Pacific Media Centre’s Del Abcede. Video: Cafe Pacific on YouTube

From Asia Pacific Report

MORE than 2000 people have taken part in a colourful and vibrant  “Aotearoa Against Muslim Ban” march in New Zealand’s largest city to condemn the “racist and Islamophobic” immigration bans ordered by US President Trump.

The protest rally was held in Auckland’s Aotea Square yesterday in solidarity with those affected by President Trump’s executive orders to implement a 90-day ban on people from seven Muslim majority countries and 120 day ban on all refugees, with an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.

The Aotearoa Against Muslim Ban coalition condemned the US bans ordered by Trump.

“These border policies are racist, Islamophobic and unacceptable,” said Mehwish, one of the organisers of the “No Ban, No Wall” protest.

“They continue a pattern of white supremacist immigration exclusion in colonial settler countries like the United States. Bill English refusing to call it for what it is – racist – is a dangerously weak response and doesn’t represent the people of Aotearoa.

Friday, January 27, 2017

What now for the Tongan Democrats looking ahead to 2018?

'Atenisi Institute's Dr Michael Horowitz with two Tongan newspapers -- Koe Kele'a and Talaki -- at the seminar
at Auckland University of Technology this week. Image: Del Abcede/PMC
By Kendall Hutt of the Pacific Media Centre

THE FUTURE of Tonga’s Democracy Coalition remains uncertain as next year’s election draws closer, a Nuku’alofa-based educator has concluded in a public seminar in Auckland last night.

Dr Michael Horowitz, dean of Tonga’s ‘Atenisi Institute, told the audience at his seminar entitled Can the Democracy Coalition retain power in Tonga? the fate of the party – and with it the election due late next year — was impossible to predict.

This is largely due to the fact no survey research is conducted, continuing Tonga’s “big surprise” election-day tradition, Dr Horowitz said.

Dr Horowitz, also a visiting research scholar with Auckland University of Technology’s Pacific Media Centre, said the Democracy Coalition may just hold on to power despite a bumpy term littered with controversy.

These controversies included a petition in 2015 for Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva to surrender his education portfolio over the so-called “raw marks” policy controversy and the “cloudy issue” of state-owned Tongan Broadcasting Commission head of news Viola Ulakai’s suspension over alleged false representation, which prompted questions about Tonga’s media freedom status across the Pacific.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Honouring independent journalist and film maker Mark Worth

Mark Worth ... suspicious death in the cause of West Papuan independence. Image: NFSA video still
From Australians for a Free West Papua Darwin

ON this day we honour Australian award-winning journalist and film maker Mark Worth who died in West Papua on January 15, 2004 - suspiciously just two days after the ABC announced his documentary, Land of the Morning Star, would be screened across Australia.

Many of Mark's friends and colleagues deemed his sudden death as suspicious and many called on the Australian government for a thorough investigation.

Yet the Australian government predictably left any investigation up to the Indonesian government, which buried his body so quickly that no one was able to properly establish his cause of death, which was officially left as mere pneumonia. His death remains an unresolved issue with many.

Mark Worth's sudden death shocked Papuans and all involved in Free West Papua campaigns in West Papua, PNG, Australia and the world.

Mark Worth had worked tirelessly exposing the truth about the cruel occupation of West Papua from inside West Papua, which ultimately, many assume was the real cause of his sudden death.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Florida airport massacre – few basic questions being raised


Surveillance footage of the accused guman Esteban Santiago opening fire at Fort Lauderdale Airport last Friday. Video: TMZ website

By DAVID ROBIE

JUST having missed the shootings by a US veteran at Florida’s Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport last Friday by less than a couple of hours after returning from a Caribbean vacation, I have been following the aftermath with intense interest.

From the safety of Little Havana in Miami, I have monitored the Spanish and English-language press (almost 60 percent of the population are Hispanic speakers) and live local television reports on the Fort Lauderdale massacre.

What has struck me most is that several key issues have barely been covered in the media soul-searching, topmost being the bizarre gun culture itself.

A professor commenting on CNN about another issue – the fate of the so-called Obamacare "universal" health law after Donald Trump is inaugurated next week – compared the US culture unflatteringly with the European citizens’ sense of “commonwealth” described his countryfolk as “still cowboys”.

This sentiment was reflected in at least one letter in the press. Writing in a letter to the editor in the Los Angeles Times, Barbara Rosen noted with irony:

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