CANBERRA – Yesterday, 1 December, was the day of West Papuan statehood, remembrance, and mourning
Each year on this day, Papuans commemorate the conception of a new Papuan state. This was West Papua’s original Independence Day.
CANBERRA – Yesterday, 1 December, was the day of West Papuan statehood, remembrance, and mourning
Each year on this day, Papuans commemorate the conception of a new Papuan state. This was West Papua’s original Independence Day.
| Griffith Asia Insights
BRISBANE - Fiji’s prime minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, was the first to congratulate Joe Biden on his election as president of the United States.
There was little doubt what he wanted from the next leader of the free world. “Together, we have a planet to save from a climate emergency”, he tweeted.
| Radio New Zealand Pacific
AUCKLAND - Congratulatory messages continue to pour in from Pacific leaders to the US president-elect Joe Biden but what does the change of the guard in Washington DC really mean for the Pacific?
RNZ Pacific spoke with some political experts and commentators around the region about the potential impacts of the upcoming presidency.
ADELAIDE - In 1975 I went from Papua New Guinea, where we were working, to Irian Jaya and Indonesia. Nothing prepared us for the scene in Jayapura. The Melanesians were serfs in their own country.
We stayed in a nearby village, which had been the subject of recent transmigrasi, the scheme to populate Irian Jaya with migrants from heavily populated parts of Indonesia, especially Java.
| Radio New Zealand
AUCKLAND - Papua New Guineans and Pacific Islanders are among many thousands of people stuck in limbo because of an Australian migration policy which appears to lack compassion.
Due to the pandemic, Australia closed its borders to almost everyone except Australian citizens, permanent residents, resident New Zealand citizens or immediate family members.
ATHENS - Secessionist tendencies in Indonesia’s province of West Papua have recently been attracting a great deal of attention from experts and human rights activists.
The main reason for the international criticism of the Indonesian authorities is human rights violations and the suppression of the fundamental freedoms of the indigenous people of West Papua.
CANBERRA - On Tuesday 14 July, Antara News in Jakarta published an article by Jaleswari Pramodhawardani of the Presidential Staff Office on President Joko Widodo’s approach in handling West Papua issues.
According to Pramodhawardani, lack of welfare is to blame for problems in West Papua. She concluded that Jokowi plans to resolve West Papua’s issues through various development programs.
SYDNEY - A move to broadcast Australian commercial television, including Neighbours, Border Security and Masterchef in Pacific nations could be counterproductive in promoting Australia’s relationship with the region, an expert media group has warned.
The new PacificAus TV program will allow Australian content to be aired free of charge by broadcasters in seven Pacific nations, at a cost of $17.1m, in a move seen as an attempt to combat Chinese influence in the Pacific region.
SALLY SARA, ANNE WORTHINGTON
& VICTOR MAMBOR
| Foreign Correspondent
| Australian Broadcasting Corporation | Extracts
SYDNEY - In the highlands of Papua, in easternmost Indonesia, villagers are returning to the burnt-out remains of their abandoned homes.
A woman slumps on the grass, overcome with grief, as men dig a pit for the remains of those who could not escape the bloodshed.
| Asia & the Pacific Policy Society
CANBERRA - With a surge in Covid-19 cases predicted for Indonesia, the possibility of the dreaded virus entering Papua New Guinea from West Papua Province is a real concern amongst observers and the government.
Two months ago, the Governor of West Sepik Province, Tony Wouwou, closed the PNG-Indonesia border post at Wutung in response to the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China.
SYDNEY - Australia will send charter flights carrying tonnes of urgent medical supplies and other support to Pacific island nations to help combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The deliveries come as the Pacific Islands Forum moves closer to agreeing on the creation of a "humanitarian corridor" to keep medical and food supplies flowing amid travel and movement restrictions, and China steps up its aid to the region.
| RNZ Pacific | Asia Pacific Report | Pacific Media Watch
WELLINGTON, NZ - Pacific countries have further tightened border measures to try to keep the coronavirus from gaining a foothold in the islands.
Six cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the Pacific so far – the first three in French Polynesia and, on Sunday night, three were confirmed in Guam.
MORRISET - If you live in a Pacific nation and are having trouble or being delayed in getting a visa to Australia, there are likely to be two reasons:
One - visa processing has been outsourced to a private UK company called TT Services.
Two - all visa approvals are now managed by the Australian High Commission in Fiji, even if you are from Papua New Guinea, the Solomons, Vanuatu or Tonga.
TUMBY BAY - Some time ago I was sitting in the international departure lounge at Jackson’s Airport in Port Moresby waiting for the big balus to arrive from Brisbane.
It’s always interesting when a big balus lands because you can watch the new arrivals go past the glass doors on their way to immigration and customs.
| Guardian Australia | Extract
CANBERRA - The Australian government is fighting to keep secret draft versions of its strategy for helping the Pacific deal with climate change, prompting concerns it may be hiding changes that weakened the final report.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade released its climate change action strategy in November, detailing how the foreign aid program would be used to help developing nations – particularly those in the Pacific – deal with global heating.
TESS NEWTON CAIN
| Devpolicy Blog
BRISBANE - As we enter not only a new year but a new decade, there is much to anticipate in the Pacific islands region.
Elections and domestic politics
A number of countries in the region will have elections during 2020: Kiribati, Niue, Palau and Vanuatu.
The lingering discontent in Kiribati surrounding last year’s switch in diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China may have an adverse impact on the incumbent government.
WASHINGTON DC - A decade ago, then-US president Barack Obama billed himself as the “first Pacific president” and announced, several years later, a foreign-policy “pivot to Asia.”
But the pivot proved largely illusory, and the region only grows more complex. The growing challenges faced by Pacific island countries requires significant reassessment as the region becomes one of the tensest political battlegrounds in the world.
|East Asia Forum
WELLINGTON, NZ - One could be forgiven for having a sense of déjà vu in the Solomon Islands.
In elections held in April 2019, Manasseh Sogavare returned as prime minister for a fourth non-consecutive term.
In the aftermath of those elections, riots broke out in the capital, Honiara, just as they did 13 years earlier. In 2006, rioters targeted Chinatown and the Pacific Casino hotel.
| Australian Strategic Policy Institute
CANBERRA - Australia’s deepest, oldest instinct in the South Pacific is strategic denial, striving to exclude other major powers from the region.
As Australia can never achieve complete dominance in the South Pacific, the instinct is beset by a faint, constant ache.
| The Age (Melbourne) | Extracts
MELBOURNE - One of the reasons Pacific nations like Vanuatu are turning to China is because they fear Jakarta more than Beijing.
As previously reported in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, China is making a bold play for influence in Bougainville, the resource-rich PNG-governed territory that looks set to become the world's newest nation after its people voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence earlier this month.
| The Strategist | Australian Strategic Policy Institute
CANBERRA - Journalism has always been a tough trade in the South Pacific. Living and working in island communities exposes editors and reporters to unusual political, personal and professional pressures.
A statement warning about ‘growing threats to media freedom’ from the Melanesia Media Freedom Forum, representing journalists from Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and West Papua, has been underlined by Vanuatu’s expulsion of a long-serving editor.
| Nikkei Asian Review
SYDNEY - In October, the New York Times reported that China had leased the island of Tulagi, prized for its deep-water harbor, from the Solomon Islands, which lie northeast of Australia.
While the Solomon Islands government has said such a lease is illegal, it set alarm bells ringing internationally, coming less than a week after the country severed relations with Taipei and turned to Beijing.
NOOSA - The government of Vanuatu, having previously blocked Vanuatu Daily Post senior journalist Dan McGarry from working in the country, has now doubled down on that decision by preventing him from returning home to Port Vila.
Mr McGarry had, of all things, been attending a media freedom conference in Brisbane when the Vanuatu government denied his right to return to Vanuatu to be with his family.
| Guardian Australia
PORT VILA - Vanuatu’s Daily Post has always held the government to account and will continue to do so, with or without me as editor
Last Thursday, the Vanuatu government issued instructions that after 16 years living here and, despite having a Ni Vanuatu spouse and children, I will have to leave the country.
TESS NEWTON CAIN
BRISBANE - I’m going to start with the disclosures. Dan McGarry is my friend.
We have worked together as colleagues in the past and my contributions to the Vanuatu Daily Post and Buzz FM in recent years have been at his invitation and with his encouragement.
So the recent news that the government is trying to force his departure from Vanuatu for what they feel is negative reporting makes me sad.
NOOSA – If a government is ever involved in something, anything, and it looks like a stitch-up, then you’re right to assume it is indeed a stitch-up.
And here at PNG Attitude we assume that the Vanuatu government is guilty of trying to remove Daily Post newspaper director Dan McGarry from his job and from the country on a pretext.
Why? Because the government knows his journalism is telling the truth.
| Pacific Media Watch | Edited extracts
BRISBANE - “West Papuans are being denied their basic human rights. Human beings have a right to freedom,” says Richard Mogu.
“Freedom to be treated fairly like a human being. Freedom to be respected. To have your own dignity and pride. This is being taken away from West Papuans.”
| Asia Pacific Report/Melanesia Media Freedom Forum/Pacific Media Watch | Extract
BRISBANE - Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie has condemned the Australian and New Zealand governments and mainstream media for their “deafening silence” over the West Papua crisis.
Speaking before next month’s Melanesian Media Freedom Forum at Griffith in Brisbane, Dr Robie said Canberra and Wellington needed to get behind the Vanuatu-led Pacific initiatives on West Papuan self-determination or face growing insecurity in the region.
SYDNEY - The claim that China has engaged in ‘debt-trap diplomacy’ by offering loans worth hundreds of billions of dollars to strategically located Pacific island nations, leaving them vulnerable to China’s influence, has been hosed down in a new Lowy Institute report.
"The evidence to date suggests China has not been engaged in deliberate ‘debt-trap’ diplomacy in the Pacific," researchers at the foreign policy think tank concluded.
Half a century of madness
Abused and shattered and torn
Half a century of chaos
Of living in the shadows
Half a century of sadness
And rivers of tears for precious lives lost
When will the morning star fly free?
SYDNEY - Violence has swept across Indonesian Papua in the last six weeks, starting with racist taunts against Papuan students in East Java, and moving back to Papua where protests against racism turned into larger pro-independence demonstrations.
On 28 August, police opened fire on demonstrators in Deiyai, a remote district in the central highlands, after an Indonesian soldier was killed by an arrow. Eight Papuans died from gunfire.
| The Guardian
SYDNEY - The Solomon Islands’ government has voted to sever its longstanding ties with Taiwan and take up diplomatic relations with Beijing.
The move is a huge blow to self-ruled Taiwan, which has lost six allies since 2016, and to Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, who is seeking re-election in January amid rising tension with China.
The Solomon Islands, with about 600,000 people, is the latest country to switch allegiance to China since Tsai came to office in 2016, following Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic, São Tomé and Príncipe, Panama and El Salvador.
GOVERNOR POWES PARKOP
PORT MORESBY - The right to self-determination is not just a universal declaration provided in Article 1 of the United Nation Charter, it’s also a right promulgated by God when he got Moses to tell Pharaoh, ‘Let my people go!’
Thank you Governor Gary Juffa for your continuous support for our people of West Papua. You have never withered and I salute you. You are a champion of our people.
I thank prime minister James Marape for the brave stand he has taken. We are a manifestation of that stand that we won’t stand by and allow our people to be killed and oppressed.
Hey, l bet you look to the West
Beyond that mountain crest
And see far beyond that ridge
Do you see across that valley?
Smoke and flames rising?
Raging upon the western skies?
Hey, I bet you stop by and think
About what lies far beyond
Our shared mountain ridges,
Reflect upon the bond we share
And you shall feel yet for sure
They pain they cannot bear
NOOSA – A prominent Catholic priest in Papua New Guinea says Australia, as the region’s richest and biggest nation, should “lead through kindness” in the south-west Pacific and show “solidarity and inclusiveness”.
Writing in the PNG Catholic Reporter, Fr Giorgio Licini said the PNG government and civil society also have a responsibility because of their “central position among the family of nations in the Pacific [to] raise their voice regarding the current most pressing issues”.
Fr Giorgio enumerated these as Australia’s attitudes to offshore detention, refusing to acknowledge the negative environmental impact of coal burning and making “access and work difficult for other members of the Pacific family”.
DAGUA - When I was doing my third year at teachers’ college, during a course in post-colonial literature our lecturer gave an assignment on the topic of nationalism.
The task was to select two nations in our immediate region that were once colonised. The assignment was to look into their history and literature in the forms of poems, stories or quotes expressing nationalist or anti-colonial sentiments.
I decided to read about Indonesia and East Timor (a new nation at the time). Indonesia a former Dutch colony and East Timor a former Portuguese colony.
I decided on Indonesia because of its occupation of East Timor (as it was before independence in 1999) and the ongoing Papua Merdeka [freedom] movement in West Papua.
So I set out on my quest to read and discover the post-colonial and nationalist literature of these countries.
I searched the bookshelves and catalogues in the library and found little existing literature that would provide the information I needed. At that time, there was no internet and the books were irrelevant to my assigned task.
MEAGHAN TOBIN | South China Morning Post | Extract
HONG KONG - Indonesia’s restive province of West Papua was gripped by violence last week as protesters clashed with police, leading Jakarta to cut internet access and send almost 1,000 additional officers to quell the unrest.
The latest demonstrations were against racist abuse suffered by West Papuan students, but a separatist movement in the region has also been simmering since 1969.
In recent years, Jakarta’s Pacific Island neighbours have become bolder in their disapproval of the [Indonesian] government’s handling of calls for independence, recently welcoming a United Nations investigation into human rights abuses in West Papua.
West Papua and the neighbouring Indonesian province of Papua share the same island as independent Papua New Guinea, which is one of 18 nations – including Australia and New Zealand – that make up the Pacific Islands Forum.
In their joint communique after the forum, the leaders called for the UN visit to be finalised and a report on the situation to be provided next year.
MICHAEL ANDREW | Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch
AUCKLAND - The Indonesian media is contributing to resentment and racism toward Papuans, according to a human rights researcher and former journalist.
Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch Jakarta told Pacific Media Watch many Indonesian journalists either view Papuans as enemy "separatists" or deviants and their reporting tends to convey these stereotypes.
Papuan anger has erupted in widespread riots and rallies across Indonesia over the last week, after a militia attacked West Papuan students in Surabaya, pelting them with stones and calling them “monkeys”.
Harsono, who is in New Zealand promoting his latest book ‘Race, Islam and Power’, says the manner in which the media reported the attacks has created further anti-Papuan resentment which in turn sparked a backlash from the West Papuans themselves.
“The attack was reported by the media, videoed by the media, but it raised anger back home, now almost 30 cities are having rallies protesting against the use of the word ‘monkey’ for this Papuan people."
CANBERRA - Escalating violence and attacks on Papuan students saw thousands of young people march on the streets and set fire to the parliament building in West Papua on Monday.
This was in response to Papuan students being attacked in a dormitory in Surabaya last week after they had allegedly bent a flagpole during Indonesian Independence Day celebrations last Saturday.
Surabaya police chief senior commissioner Sandi Nugroho said the attack on the dormitory was carried out by Indonesian nationalist community groups angered by the treatment of their national flag.
In an effort to restore calm, Papua Governor Lukas Enembe called on all Indonesian citizens to respect their national value of ‘unity in diversity’ (Bhineka Tunggal Ika) and asked security forces to act professionally and in accordance with Indonesian laws and to not let activist groups take the law in their own hands.
MUNGO MacCALLUM | John Menadue: Pearls and Irritations
BYRON BAY - The Great White Father has arrived in the far flung atolls of the Pacific. And, like the missionaries before him Scott Morrison is delivering the bringing of the light — a gospel of hope and salvation.
Well, up to a point. Boiled down, his message is that if they are worried about the rising waters, they should sandbag the foreshores and move to higher ground if there is any, because he is not going to do anything substantial to help.
He will, of course, offer money, which his host at the Pacific Islands Forum, Tuvalu prime minister Enele Sopoaga, said was not really the point:
“No matter how much money you put on the table it does not give you the excuse not to do the right thing, which is to cut down on your emissions, including not opening your coalmines. This is the thing we want to see.”
STEFAN ARMBRUSTER & TESS NEWTON CAIN | DevPolicy Blog
CANBERRA - “Save Tuvalu, save the world” sang school children as they greeted the Pacific’s leaders on arrival to what became a showdown pitting the region against Australia.
This was no ambush, but had been building for years.
At the capital Funafuti’s airport the school children sat in a moat of water surrounding a diorama of a climate change devastated island.
If it wasn’t obvious, the significance was explained to them by Tuvalu’s foreign minister. The symbolism was potent, and the ritual well established by the time Australian prime minister Scott Morrison was the last of the 18 Forum leaders to stride across the tarmac.
Well briefed on what to do, he crouched to chat, showing up for the ‘Step Up’, but one major detail escaped advisers that marked out the Australian delegation.
CORNEY KOROKAN ALONE
PORT MORESBY – They were very strong words from the Fijian prime minister, Frank Bainimarama: the sentiments of the rest of the Pacific Islands leaders captured in his views.
“China never insults the Pacific," Bainimarama said. "They don’t go down and tell the world that we’ve given this much money to the Pacific islands. They don’t do that.
"They’re good people, definitely better than Morrison, I can tell you that. The [Australian] prime minister was very insulting, very condescending, not good for the relationship….”
My own prime minister, James Marape, upon returning from Tuvalu acknowledged that "there is a climate change crisis in the region".
He further stated that he "will be vocal about it when he attends the United Nations General Assembly meeting in September this year".
Australia, or any other so-called leader of the free world, must know that Pacific Islands people value relationships.
EMAIL | The Australia Institute
CANBERRA - Last week the Pacific Island Forum made clear that new coal mines were a 'red line' issue.
Its final communique made clear to the world what the Pacific nations require of its neighbours, including Australia: the survival of Pacific Island nations requires no new coal mines.
While Pacific Island leaders deserve congratulation for their vocal call for no new coal mines, it is a disappointment that Australia has bullied any language of a ban or limitation of new coal out of this week's 50th Pacific Islands Forum communique.
Australians cannot underestimate the importance of taking climate action, particularly in the Pacific. As the UN Secretary-General has said, “if you can save Tuvalu, you can save the world”.
KATE LYONS | Guardian Australia | Extract
FUNAFUTI - Scott Morrison has been accused of causing an extraordinary rift between Australia and Pacific countries by the prime minister of Fiji, who said the Australian prime minister’s insulting behaviour while at the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu would push nations closer to China.
In an exclusive interview with Guardian Australia after the conclusion of the forum, Frank Bainimarama, the prime minister of Fiji and a political heavyweight in the region, said Morrison’s approach during the leaders’ retreat on Thursday was “very insulting and condescending”.
“Yesterday was probably one of the most frustrating days I have ever had,” he said of the leaders’ retreat, which lasted for nearly 12 hours and almost broke down over Australia’s red lines on the climate crisis.
KATHARINE MURPHY | Guardian Australia | Extract
CANBERRA - Pacific leaders are fully aware that things are not under control when it comes to Australia’s climate change efforts.
You can understand their impatience. They are standing on the frontline of a climate crisis, and trying to prod laggards around the world.
The Pacific needs the big emitters, and countries that can influence them, like Australia, to stop obfuscating and start acting while we’ve got a chance of averting the worst scenarios.
So, this past week, entering the global arena, Morrison found himself wedged between the campaign calm down offensive at home, and Australia’s demonstrable absence of climate leadership.
TUMBY BAY - I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings but if the people of the Pacific believe that the Australian government will do anything meaningful about climate change they are sadly mistaken.
Australia currently has a conservative government with an undeclared core of climate change deniers in its ranks.
If that isn’t discouraging enough it is also led by a prime minister who is a committed Pentecostal Christian who believes in miracles and God’s will.
One of those miracles enacted by God was letting him win the last unwinnable federal election. He is now prime minister because God put him there.
Roughly translated this means that he believes that climate change has been imposed on the world by God for unexplained reasons that should not be questioned.
For Morrison and many of his cohorts empirical science is something they view with scepticism.
LISA MURRAY | Australian Financial Review | Extracts
SYDNEY - The Australian government has announced the next leg of its Pacific step-up ahead of Scott Morrison’s visit to Tuvalu this week, spending $19 million on establishing a new security college to train officials from the region.
The latest security initiative comes as Mr Morrison is set to face strong criticism at the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting this week over Australia’s climate change policies and its support for the Adani coal mine.
The college, being set up in partnership with the Australian National University, is aimed at boosting links between security and police officials across the Pacific amid concern about China’s expanding investment and influence.
Jonathan Pryke, director of the Pacific Islands program at the Lowy Institute, said Mr Morrison would be bracing himself ahead of this week's forum.
GOLD COAST, QLD - One part of the answer to the big problems of the Pacific – like climate change, Chinese expansionism or greater prosperity - would be better co-operation between residents of our region.
Anyone like Australia trying to be ‘Big Brother’ will only enhance feelings of subdued resentment.
A better approach is be to have the Pacific Islands Forum consider climate change as part of the whole Pacific picture. ‘Together we stand, divided we fall’ seems to have morphed into ‘divide and conquer’.
While ever climate change is hived off from the other important issues affecting the lives of Pacific peoples, it will always provide leverage against Australia, due to its reserves of energy and export revenues based on extracted resources.
ROY RATUMAKIN | Tabloid Jubi/Pacific Media Watch | Extract
JAYAPURA - The Indonesian government plans to bring foreign journalists to Papua for 2020 National Press Day, but an independent journalists group has warned against "politicising" the visit.
Lucky Ireeuw, chair of the Jayapura City branch of the Independent Journalist Alliance (AJI), said his group strongly supported the move of the Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Wiranto, to bring the foreign journalists to Papua.
"This is what AJI has been fighting for. We have urged the central government to open as much access as possible to foreign journalists to come and cover Papua without any pressure from various parties.
"However, the arrival of foreign journalists should not be politicised," he told Tabloid Jubi this week.
NEWS DESK | Agence France-Presse
WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Pacific island leaders insist climate change, not China, will top the agenda when they meet in Tuvalu this month as western-aligned nations push to curb Beijing's growing influence in the region.
Once regarded as a sleepy backwater of the diplomatic world, the islands are now a hotbed of aid projects and charm offensives as anxiety over China's presence grows.
Australia has labelled its campaign the Pacific Step-Up, New Zealand has the Pacific Reset, and Britain the Pacific Uplift, while the United States, Japan, and France have also intensified their efforts to court the region.
But local leaders attending the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Tuvalu from August 13 to 16 are wary their concerns will be sidelined if they become pawns in a wider power struggle.