Aborigin Pertama Jadi Menteri Australia Minta Referendum
Ken Wyatt, orang Aborigin pertama yang jadi menteri di Australia (Foto: @getty)
Ken Wyatt, orang Aborigin pertama yang jadi menteri di Australia (Foto: @getty)

CANBERRA, SATUHARAPAN.COM – Untuk pertama kalinya seorang warga negara Australia berlatar belakang suku asli, Aborigin, dilantik menjadi menteri pemerintah federal  bulan lalu. Namanya Ken Wyatt. Ia menjadi menteri federal untuk urusan usia lanjut dan kesehatan penduduk pribumi.

Dia seorang pendukung diadakannya referendum nasional untuk mengakui keberadaan rakyat Aborigin dalam konstitusi Australia,  sebagai bagian dari upaya mengubah salah kelola yang telah menjadi sejarah panjang.

Para pendukung referendum yang dimotori sejumlah partai politik dan kelompok pribumi, berupaya untuk melenyapkan satu bagian dari pasal yang memperbolehkan negara-negara bagian mendiskriminasi penduduk asli berdasarkan ras. Namun, proses ini berjalan lambat karena adanya perbedaan tentang seberapa luas cakupan perubahan hukum yang akan dilaksanakan. Sebagian kelompok pribumi Australia bahkan mulai mundur dari tuntutan mengamandemen konstitusi dan memilih bentuk perjanjian dengan pemerintah saja.

Wyatt termasuk tokoh yang tetap menuntut referendum lewat pendekatan konstitusi.

“Kesepakatan hanyalah perjanjian formal yang bisa dilanggar, dikesampingkan atau dihormati dengan cara yang minimalis,” kata pria berusia 64 tahun ini kepada Financial Times.

“Saya percaya bahwa  memasukkan pengakuan (akan hak Aborigin) di dalam konstitusi seperti memahat kata-kata ke dalam  pondasi batu. Ini akan membentuk dasar yang dengannya keputusan Pengadilan Tinggi akan dicapai di tengah tantangan hukum di masa depan. ”

Hanya saja rencana menggelar referendum yang diusulkan dilaksanakan pada bulan Mei — tepat pada ulang tahun ke-50 dari  referendum tahun 1967 yang memberi masyarakat asli hak-hak yang lebih besar tampaknya akan batal.  Wyatt mengatakan pelaksanaan referendum pada tahun 2018 adalah yang paling mungkin saat ini.

Dia memperingatkan hasil “No” pada referendum akan berisiko merusak yang telah dicapai pada referendum 1967 dan permintaan maaf pemerintah atas generasi yang hilang pada tahun 2008.

“Itu akan memundurkan kembali hubungan harmonis yang terjalin antara kita semua dan berdampak pada bagaimana Australia dipandang di seluruh dunia,” kata dia.

Siapa Ken Wyatt

Ken Wyatt, yang ketika dilantik jadi menteri bulan lalu mengenakan jubah Kanguru, lahir di rumah misi di Roelands, bekas rumah untuk anak-anak pribumi yang dipaksa dipisahkan dari orang tua mereka selama era “generasi yang dicuri” di Australia.

“Ibu saya dan semua saudara-saudaranya  dimasukkan ke dalam rumah misi dan mereka dipisahkan – sehingga kontak mereka dengan kakek dan nenek saya terbatas,” kata  Wyatt.

“Saya punya file Departemen Kesejahteraan Penduduk Asli nenek saya dan ada suratnya yang dia tulis sendiri yang mengatakan ia ingin bertemu dengan anak-anaknya.”

Dalam wawancara dengan Financial Times, ia mengatakan bertekad menangani kalangan berkebutuhan khusus dan melawan rasisme institusional yang mempengaruhi masyarakat asli, yang jumlahnya 3 persen dari penduduk Australia yang 24 juta.

Wyatt berpendapat bahwa pemerintah sebelumnya  tidak bekerja dengan masyarakat Aborigin sebagai mitra sejajar. Rekaman video yang dirilis pada bulan Desember menunjukkan penganiayaan dalam tahanan polisi atas seorang wanita Aborigin berusia 22 tahun, yang kemudian meninggal. Ini, menurut Wyatt,  adalah pengaruh rasisme institusional yang berlangsung di hampir seluruh layanan negara.

Dia kemudian mendirikan sebuah kelompok kerja untuk melihat determinan sosial dalam kesehatan masyarakat, termasuk rasisme institusional.

Ketika ditanya mengapa  begitu lama bagi pemerintah federal untuk menunjuk seorang menteri urusan penduduk asli, Wyatt menjawab bahwa “orang-orang non-pribumi selama bertahun-tahun telah meragukan orang pribumi untuk bisa melakukan pekerjaan ini.”

“Saya pikir adalah fakta bahwa telah terjadi pola pikir bahwa kita [orang Aborigin] memiliki tempat,” katanya. “Saya mendasarkan ini pada seorang guru yang pernah berkata kepada saya: ‘Anda adalah anak Aborigin. Anda harus meninggalkan sekolah dan mendapatkan pekerjaan di sebuah peternakan, karena Anda tidak akan pergi jauh.”

Editor : Eben E. Siadari

Daily Post, By Anita Roberts 

Chiefs from West and South on Tanna said the news about a brothel operating on their island was only unjustified allegations.

They are disappointed and want the issue be put to rest.

The chiefs said they see the brothel story, which was featured on the front page of the Independent Newspaper last month as an insult to them as prominent leaders taking care of their people and upholding cultural values.

They joined the Tafea Provincial Government Council (TPGC) to raise concerns against the story.

By now, whole Vanuatu knows about the news and the rest of the world, the chiefs stressed in a statement sent to the Daily Post.

These chiefs, particularly from west and south Tanna, demand for the newspaper to reveal through its sources the whereabouts of the alleged brothel.

This is a very serious allegation against the people of Tanna and such activity is very disrespectful to our culture, said Chief Kalip Roger from the Isla Council of Chiefs.

A representative from the Nikoletan Council of Chiefs, Seth Kaurua, said: “We see the news as an insult to our capabilities.

“It has ruined our reputation and is degrading to our women and girls.

“We (the chiefs) take our roles and responsibilities very seriously.

“As a representative of Nikoletan, I am joining the TPGC to call onto the newspaper outlet to be accountable in its reporting and not overlook our hard working women who make genuine earnings.

“We do understand from a journalistic view that some sources are to be protected but, at least revealing some would help us (chiefs) fix the situation accordingly without violence.

“Nikoletan has a strong network and has been working hard to solve unacceptable behaviors within the Tanna society.

“We are working closely with chiefs around Tanna on the issue.

“Currently, we have no report and no glimpse of it though our office is located near CCECC headquarter,” he added.

The China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), being the only Chinese company operating on Tanna, was the centre of attention as the report said that the alleged brothel was catering to largely Chinese clients.

It demanded the newspaper to issue an apology but the newspaper declined.

According to the Independent, “some people on Tanna reported seeing more than one child of mixed blood since the brothel, which is near the headquarters of CCECC, was opened”.

But following the publication of the brothel story, a chief and CCECC representative approached the Lenakel Hospital to confirm whether there are records of children under such description born.

The Lenakel Hospital confirmed to the chiefs, including the Daily Post that no babies fitting that description were born there.

The chiefs conveyed that the hospital told them it has a good registration system whereby, the father of all children delivered there had to be identified and recorded, whether he is a married or unmarried father.

So far the chiefs of the surrounding areas and beyond CCECC headquarters had been engaging communities to figure out the so-called brothel.

The chairman of Nikoletan, Freeman, who is in Port Vila for the opening of the new chief’s nakamal said he is not aware of the news. However, he said such activity is against Tanna culture therefore, he will work with other colleague chiefs to find out whether it’s true when he returns home.

One of the chiefs from Lenakel, Kalo Nimisa, said: “I live close to the CCECC headquarters and I hardly see CCECC staff going out through the gate at night. They have a strong security system where the front gate is usually closed after official hours from 6.30pm and open again at 6.30am.”

CCECC said its workers are governed by strict rules which do not allow them to participate in extra-curricular and especially, culturally-sensitive activities, which may cause disruption.

 

By Katharina R. Lestari in Jakarta

APReport – A bishop in Papua has called for government aid for thousands of Papuans made jobless because of a bitter contractual dispute between the government and U.S.-based mining giant PT Freeport McMoran Inc.

The row, which has reduced operations at the world’s second biggest copper mine in Papua’s Mimika district by about 60 percent, stems from Indonesia seeking to change mining industry regulations over ore processing and foreign ownership.

The government wants to cap copper concentrate exports to boost its domestic smelting industry.

Freeport says the regulations breach its current contract with the government, which runs until 2021. The company says the rules would also affect contracts it has with its customers overseas.

However, the dispute has resulted in job losses for contractors and workers.

“The company has laid off more than a thousand workers. It also threatens to reduce ongoing programs offered to the local community, such as scholarships and health-care services. This is a problem,” Bishop John Philip Saklil of Jayapura said.

The prelate recalled that he and some Papuans owning indigenous land rights, known as hak ulayat, met with Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan on February 27 in Jakarta to find a solution to the problem.

 

People victimised

“Such a lay-off has victimised many people who depend solely on the company. Many other Papuans, benefit from the programmes,” he said.

According to the local Manpower, Transmigration and Public Housing Agency nearly 1100 workers were laid off as a result of the dispute.

“They dreamed of a good future but then were laid off. Many still have debts to pay. It is not easy for them. Now everyone is worried about their future,” Bishop Saklil said.

A local tribal leader said laid off indigenous people could revert to old traditional activities like hunting to get by, but mining activities have caused havoc with the local ecosystem.

“Due to polluted waters, their feet and hands start to hurt when they go into rivers. Also, animals living in or near rivers have died. So how can we hunt to live?” Amungme tribal leader Yanes Natkimu said.

Committee releases 2017 Working Paper on American Samoa
Committee releases 2017 Working Paper on American Samoa

PIReport – By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, March 9, 2017) – The United Nations has “strongly urged” the United States to refrain from using American Samoa as, among other things, a tax haven as well as for harmful and unproductive activities, that are not aligned with the interest of the people of the territory, according to a UN report released this week.

The ‘Working Papers on American Samoa’ report was prepared by the Secretariat for the UN Decolonization Committee, which convenes annually — usually late May into early June — for the Pacific or Caribbean seminars. Last year the Pacific seminar was held in Managua, Nicaragua, but this year’s host country for the Caribbean seminar is not available on UN online records.

The working paper, or document, provides background information on each of the world’s 16 non-governing territories — including American Samoa. In the report, the UN General Assembly stressed the importance of fostering the economic and social sustainable development of the Territory by promoting, among other things, sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth, creating greater opportunities for all, reducing inequalities, raising basic standards of living, and fostering equitable social development.

It also stressed the importance of facilitating ecosystem conservation, regeneration, restoration and resilience in the face of new and emerging challenges.

And it “strongly urged the administering power [the United States] to refrain from undertaking any kind of illicit, harmful and unproductive activities, including the use of the Territory as a tax haven, that are not aligned with the interest of the people of the Territory,” according to the report, which elaborated on what it meant by “illicit, harmful and unproductive activities.”

The General Assembly requests that American Samoa and the administering power take all measures necessary to protect and conserve the environment of the territory against any degradation, and once again requested the specialized agencies concerned to monitor environmental conditions in the Territory and to provide assistance to the territory, consistent with their prevailing rules of procedure.

It requested the Decolonization (or Special Committee of the 24) to continue to examine the question of American Samoa and to report it to the General Assembly.

American Samoa’s working papers provided a long summary of the Resolution on American Samoa adopted last December by the General Assembly. The resolution, according to the report, “reaffirmed the inalienable right of the people of American Samoa to self-determination.”

It also reaffirmed that, in the process of the decolonization of American Samoa, there was no alternative to the principle of self-determination, which was also a fundamental human right, as recognized under the relevant human rights conventions.

And it further reaffirmed, “it was ultimately for the people of American Samoa to determine freely their future political status,” and called on the U.S, in cooperation with the territorial government and appropriate bodies of the UN system, to develop political education programs for the territory in order to foster an awareness among the people of their right to self-determination.

The UN says it welcomes the territorial government’s work with respect to moving forward on political status, local autonomy and self-governance issues with a view to making political and economic progress, and also welcomed the establishment in April 2016 of the Office of Political Status, Constitutional Review and Federal Relations.

It recalled Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga’s statement two years ago that American Samoa should remain on the list of non-self-governing territories, under the purview of the Special Committee, until such time as its people have exercised their right to self-determination.

Also two years ago, the governor had extended an invitation to the Decolonization Committee to send a visiting mission to the territory and the UN called on the U.S to facilitate such a mission if the territorial government so desires.

American Samoa’s 18-page document covers the areas of political and legal issues, the constitution, the current budget, economic conditions (e.g. fisheries, agriculture and tourism) and social conditions such as labor, immigration, education, and public health. Samoa News has covered many of the issues over the past 12 months.

ASG’S WORK

Since late last year, the governor has encouraged the Political Status Office to disseminate information to the youth about the territory’s political status with the US so they can become better informed about the issue.

For the past several weeks the office, headed by Tapa’au Dr. Daniel Aga, has conducted public awareness presentations at public high schools and more schools have shown interest in hearing the presentation.

The office is looking at this summer to begin outreach work at villages and workplaces.

The Samoa News
Copyright © 2017. The Samoa News. All Rights Reserved

'Race-based restrictions on voting rights' declared unconstitutional
‘Race-based restrictions on voting rights’ declared unconstitutional

PIReport – By Jasmine Stole and Jerick Sablan

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, March 8, 2017) – The law limiting Guam’s self-determination plebiscite to people considered native inhabitants is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

The plebiscite law imposes race-based restrictions on voting rights of non-native inhabitants, which is against the 15th Amendment, Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood wrote in her 26-page decision.

“The U.S. Constitution does not permit for the government to exclude otherwise qualified voters in participating in an election where public issues are decided simply because those otherwise qualified voters do not have the correct ancestry or bloodline,” Tydingco-Gatewood wrote.

Plaintiff Arnold “Dave” Davis is a white, non-Chamorro resident of Guam. He applied to vote in the plebiscite but was denied, so he sued the Guam Election Commission and others in the government in 2011.

The political status plebiscite is a non-binding vote posing three options to voters about their preferred future political status with the U.S. Eligible voters can choose independence, free association or statehood for Guam.

The law states eligible voters are native inhabitants, defined as people who became U.S. citizens on Guam by the Organic Act, and their descendants.

The government of Guam argued the law isn’t race-based, but the chief judge said the argument was unpersuasive.

“The court recognizes the long history of colonization of this island and its people, and the desire of those colonized to have their right to self-determination,” the judge wrote. “However, the court must also recognize the right of others who have made Guam their home.”

The 14th Amendment and the 15th Amendment were clearly violated in this case, the judge stated.

“We are pleased at the decision. Mr. Davis has long maintained that the plebiscite violated the law,” J. Christian Adams, Davis’ attorney, wrote in an email. “All of the justifications readers of this paper have heard over the years were rejected.”

‘Disappointed with ruling’

Gov. Eddie Calvo was deeply disappointed with the ruling, he said in a statement.

“The United States categorized our relationship as a territory, and by doing so recognized that the native inhabitants of Guam have the right to one day exercise our collective self-determination through a decolonization process,” Calvo said.

Calvo proposed holding a plebiscite for all residents and including boxes to distinguish if they are a native inhabitants or non-native inhabitant.

Calvo also pointed out that the federal government gave Guam $300,000 for the education process for a plebiscite vote.

“And then the District Court says we can’t have a vote specifically for the native inhabitants of this land. At this point, whatever legal remedies may be available, including an appeal, we must move forward,” he said.

Inherent racism

Victoria Leon Guerrero, co-chair of the Commission on Decolonization’s Independence for Guam Task Force, also said she’s disappointed. She said she felt attorney Julian James Aguon made a strong case to the court about Guam’s native inhabitants having a right to self-determination.

The court focusing on the vote being race-based discrimination loses sight that it’s not a general election, but a special election intended to extend a right to a specific group of people whose rights were taken from them through colonization, Leon Guerrero said.

“A genuine act of decolonization should involve the decision of those who were colonized, not those who have come to the island because of its colonization,” she said.

Davis saying the native inhabitants making this decision is racist loses sight of the inherent racism involved in colonizing an entire group of people, she said.

“Guam’s colonization and continued colonization was based on race from the beginning. The true and genuine discrimination has been towards the people of Guam who have been denied the basic human right of sovereignty,” Leon Guerrero said.

She said the task force will continue to educate the community, because the decision doesn’t prevent decolonization from happening.

“For us, the most important thing is for our island to be fully informed about the political status options that are available to us in the future and, with that information, actually choose something better for Guam,” she said.

‘Colonized federal judge’

Joe Garrido, the chairman of the commission’s Free Association Task Force, said he expected the ruling from “a colonized federal judge.”

“She’s not working for the Chamorro people or for the people here. She’s working for the government who is colonizing Guam,” he said.

Garrido said the issue should have been argued in international court.

He said the racism isn’t coming from the locals, but from Davis, who opposes the idea that natives should be allowed to choose their political future.

And just because the native-only vote was rendered unconstitutional doesn’t make the decision right, because the Constitution doesn’t recognize the rights of the island’s native people, he said.

“I feel sad. I feel mad,” Garrido said. “I certainly disagree with it.”

He too will move forward and continue to educate the public about decolonization.

“We’re going to continue to teach the people, to educate the people that we are a colonized society and a perfect example is the ruling from the district court,” he said.

Not a problem

Eloy Hara, co-chair for the commission’s Statehood Task Force, said he personally doesn’t see a problem with the ruling.

“To me Guam is so small. We’re all here on one island and whatever vote, anybody votes it’s for the people that resides here,” he said.

He said he thought the ruling would happen eventually which is why the task force has targeted everybody in their outreach not just native inhabitants.

Hara said the task force will continue with its efforts in informing the public of the benefits of choosing statehood, as it’s been doing for many years.

The Pacific Daily News called Maria Pangelinan, Election Commission director, about the ruling. Pangelinan said she was unable to comment.

Phone calls to Aguon’s office and cellphone weren’t returned in hours after the ruling was issued. The PDN also sent an email to Aguon. He hadn’t replied as of 6 p.m.

Pacific Daily News
Copyright © 2017 Guam Pacific Daily News. All Rights Reserved

Shameem called 'protections of the rights of indigenous Fijians ...institutionalised racism'

Shameem called ‘protections of the rights of indigenous Fijians …institutionalised racism’WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 9, 2017) – Fiji’s opposition SODELPA party has called for the resignation of the Fijian ambassador to the United Nations, Nazhat Shameem, after she described the past protections of the rights of indigenous Fijians as institutionalised racism.

Ambassador Shameem’s comments were part of an address to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on the 1st of March.

In her comments she said, “Racism was institutionalised in Fiji to such an extent that it instilled a ‘privileged caste’.”

“Rights of the majority in a democracy whether indigenous or not must not be used to suppress the rights of the minority and vulnerable communities,” she also said.

The SODELPA vice president, MP Ro Kiniviliame Kiliraki says Ambassador Shameem’s comments were misguided and smacked of prejudice.

He said they amounted to a deliberate misunderstanding of the grievances of the indigenous community in Fiji and were contrary to international law on the rights of indigenous peoples.

“She should retract that statement. In fact we are calling for her resignation. It is out of line as far as Fiji is concerned. It is an insult to the indigenous people. And at that level, she shouldn’t be there.”

Radio New Zealand International
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Amata's letter notes impacts on territory's canneries of marine monument
Amata’s letter notes impacts on territory’s canneries of marine monument

PIReport – By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, March 8, 2017) – U.S President Donald Trump has been asked to remove all marine monument fishing prohibitions and reinstate fisheries management in accordance with federal law.

The request, made yesterday in a two-page letter by US Rep. Rob Bishop, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources and American Samoa’s Congresswoman Aumua Amata, says prohibitions on commercial fishing in waters around marine monuments have impacted US fishing fleet as well as one cannery operation in Pago Pago.

“Using the Antiquities Act to close U.S waters to domestic fisheries is a clear example of federal overreach and regulatory duplication and obstructs well managed, sustainable U.S. fishing industries in favor of their foreign counterparts,” the letter from the Republican lawmakers point out.

“You alone can act quickly to reverse this travesty, improve our national security, and support the U.S fishing industry that contributes to the U.S economy while providing healthy, well-managed fish for America’s tables,” the letter tells Trump.

At the outset, the letter explained that access to several of the nation’s key fisheries is in jeopardy through the establishment and expansion of the Marine National Monuments, which have been created by Presidential Proclamations under the Antiquities Act of 1906.

For example, in the U.S Pacific islands region, over half of the U.S waters have been closed to commercial fishing by a stroke of the pen and without specific evidence, socioeconomic analysis, or a deliberative and public process as mandated under the amended federal Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management (MSA) Act.

“The loss of U.S fishing grounds makes our consumers more dependent on foreign seafood sources, as only 10% of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is domestically produced,” the letter.

Bishop and Amata explain that Marine National Monuments created in the U.S. Pacific Islands resulted in the U.S tuna purse seine fleet losing access to historical fishing areas, including all U.S waters (0-200 miles) surrounding Jarvis Island, Wake Island, and Johnston atoll – which are remote and uninhabited possession of the U.S totaling 1.1 million square miles.

In Hawai’i, the state’s longline fleet also lost access to these areas as well as two-thirds of the U.S exclusive economic zone around the Hawai’i archipelago.

At the same time, the letter says, federal government negotiators agreed to reduce significant access of the U.S. purse seine fleet to the high seas within the Western and Central Pacific Ocean as well as reduce catch limits for U.S longline vessels.

“Such actions exemplify how a President and government bureaucracies can dispassionately decimate U.S. fishing industries,” according to the letter, which also states that commercial fishing prohibitions in the Marine National Monuments impacted shore-side businesses and local economies of the U.S.

For example, last December, one of the two canneries in American Samoa, which represents over half of the local private sector workforce and over half of American Samoa’s Gross Domestic Product, ceased operations due to the lack of U.S. tuna supply. The letter was referring to Samoa Tuna Processors Inc., which was not identified by name.

“The remaining cannery has stated that it may close if the regulatory conditions do not change,” the letter said, referring to StarKist Samoa. “Likewise, the loss of access to highly productive fishing grounds in the northeast has exacerbated the decline of many fishing ports in the region.”

To remedy the impacts faced by the U.S fishing industry, the letters says Trump “can act swiftly and effectively to remove all marine monument fishing prohibitions.” In return, fisheries would continue to be managed under federal law, through the eight Regional Fishery Management Councils and the U.S Commerce Department.

The letter points out that the U.S. fisheries support hundreds of thousands of direct jobs, millions of indirect jobs, and billions of dollars in annual revenue.

Bishop and Amata believe that removal of fishing prohibitions stipulated in monument proclamations and return the U.S fisheries management to the regional management councils “would continue to prevent overfishing and protect the marine environment” as required by the MSA and other applicable laws, “while allowing our fishing fleet to compete with their foreign competitors.”

BACKGROUND

Restriction on the U.S. purse seiner fleet to fish on the high seas in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, has received a lot of objections from the U.S fleet and American Samoa because it limits fishing grounds for the US fleet, which supplies fish for the local canneries.

In a letter last December, the Honolulu-based Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (one of the eight fishery councils) informed then U.S President Barack Obama that the Pacific Remote islands Marine National Monument (PRIMNM) expansion displaced sustainably managed US fishing vessels from US waters.

For the US purse seine fleet, for example, this resulted in increased reliance on fishing in waters of Pacific Island countries. Furthermore access to fish in waters of these island countries “comes at exorbitant cost — approximately $12,000 per fishing day.”

Tri Marine International, which has a US purse seine fleet based in Pago Pago, and the San Diego based American Tunaboat Association, have voiced similar concerns over the past three years, pertaining to expanding boundaries of the Pacific Remote Islands MNM, forcing the US fleet to fish in waters of Pacific island countries.

The Council also says that although touted by marine monument advocates as a fishery management tool, “in reality monuments have little to no conservation benefits” for highly migratory fish stocks — e.g. tuna and billfish — and as such, cannot be included in any stock assessment evaluating the condition of these stocks in the Western Pacific region.

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Copyright © 2017. The Samoa News. All Rights Reserved

Source: AAP, SBS News
Seven Pacific island nations have accused Indonesia of serious human rights violations of indigenous Papuans, and want the UN to investigate.
Seven Pacific island nations have accused Indonesia of serious human rights violations of indigenous Papuans, and want the UN to investigate.

Seven Pacific island nations have called for a UN investigation into allegations of human rights abuses in Indonesia’s West Papua and Papua provinces, where a separatist movement has simmered for decades.

A statement to a session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, read on behalf of the seven states by Vanuatu’s Justice Minister Ronald Warsal, accused Indonesia of serious human rights violations of Indigenous Papuans including extrajudicial executions of activists and beatings and fatal shootings of peaceful protesters.

The statement called on the council to request a comprehensive report from the high commissioner for human rights and Indonesia’s co-operation in providing unfettered access to the two provinces, which independence supporters refer to collectively as West Papua.

Pacific island leaders angered Indonesia last year when they used their speeches to the UN General Assembly to criticise Indonesia’s rule in West Papua.

Jakarta accused them of interfering in Indonesia’s sovereignty and supporting groups that carry out armed attacks.

Mr Warsal, who spoke on behalf of Vanuatu, Tonga, Palau, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, Nauru and the Solomon Islands, said they also wanted to highlight the Indonesian policy of encouraging the migration of Javanese and other ethnic groups, which has led to the dramatic outnumbering of Indigenous Papuans in their own land.

The Indonesian government “has not been able to curtail or halt these various and widespread violations,” he said.

“Neither has that government been able to deliver justice for the victims.”

Pohiva awaits consent of King Tupou VI
Pohiva awaits consent of King Tupou VI

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, March 7, 2017) – The Prime Minister Hon. ‘Akilisi Pohiva at mid-day today announced a new reshuffled cabinet, which has yet to receive the official consent of King Tupou VI.

He named the new Minister of Finance and National Planning as Hon. Tevita Lavemaau, the former Minister of Revenue Collection and Customs.

Mateni Tapueluelu, the People’s Representative for Tongatapu Constituent No. 4  is a new recruit to the 12-members Cabinet.

Mateni becomes the new Minister of Police and Fire Services. This ministry used to be the Ministry of Police, Prisons and Fire Services but under this new line-up, Mateni Tapueluelu will only be the Minister of Police and Fire Services.

The Prisons will come under the Minister of Justice, Hon. Sione Vuna Fa’otusia, who is the current Minister of Justice.

The former Minister of Police, Hon. Pohiva Tu’I’onetoa will maintain his portfolio as the Minister of Labour, Commerce, Industries and Trade; he will also become the new Minister of Revenue Collection and Customs.

Under this new Cabinet line-up, the Prime Minister who is also the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Internal Affairs and Sports will drop his Foreign Affairs portfolio.

The Foreign Affairs portfolio will come under the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni, who will be the Minister for Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change, Communications and Foreign Affairs.

The Prime MInister since he was elected at the end of 2014 has reshuffled his cabinet a number of times.

No appointments

The reformed Tongan system also allows a Prime Minister to appoint four ministers from outside.

So the question remains why hasn’t he nominated Cabinet Ministers who were not elected members of parliament to take on important portfolios?

At today’s press conference Prime Minister appeared to be not very keen on the idea of nominating an unelected member of parliament as a cabinet minister.

Had to go

But what was the real reason that he fired his former Minister of Finance Hon Dr ‘Aisake Eke, taking into consideration that the Motion for the Vote of No Confidence in him was knocked out, and ‘Aisake’s abstaining from voting did not have any impact on the outcome?

The PM said that ‘Aisake was not a member his party, the Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands DPFI. In answering the question, the way the PM moved his hands and his eyes indicated that ‘Eke was floating around within his Cabinet. To make sure that the PM remained in control of his Cabinet, he decided that the Minister of Finance and National Planning had to go.

The Cabinet of the Prime Minister following the election in 2014 was made up of six members of the DPFI and six Independent Members. The number of Independent Members in Cabinet dropped to four in 2016 and now there are only three, including one Noble’s Representative.

With regards to his letter and his demand on ‘Eke to resign on a Sunday, the PM was asked if he was aware that it is illegal to make agreements on a Sunday.

The Prime Minister admitted that he “did not check on it.”

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PacificNews – NESIA’S scathing attack on Vanuatu at the 34th UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session is an attempt to divert the international community’s attention away from the ongoing human rights violations taking place in West Papua.

These sentiments were echoed by the Pacific Islands Association of NGOs (PIANGO) executive director, Emele Duituturaga after Indonesia criticised Vanuatu of ‘politicising the issue of West Papua for its domestic political purposes’ at the UNHRC in Geneva.

“Indonesia’s reaction was quite telling of its unwillingness to respect and uphold the values of what it means to belong to the international community of nations – the UN,” she said.

“Their response was to resort to divide and conquer by picking on Vanuatu and then again offering to help Vanuatu with its alleged human rights issues in response to the Pacific coalition’s request to treat a member of the Pacific family – West Papua – with respect and dignity.”

Ms Duituturaga said the Pacific Islands Coalition on West Papua (PICWP), of which PIANGO is a member, would not be requesting the UN to send special rapporteurs into West Papua if they didn’t have enough evidence to prove that West Papuans were suffering.

“Indonesia plays an important role in Pacific stability and peace, their contribution to the region is widely known and appreciated. Pacific governments and civil society would not just as easily undermine such an important relationship.

“However, when there is overwhelming evidence that thousands of West Papuans who are Pacific Islanders have lost their lives as they tried to raise alternative views in the governance of their resources with state authorities, and even to motivate seven Pacific countries to form a coalition on West Papua, Indonesia must realise it can no longer afford to feign innocence at the UN.”

She said according to several human rights reports, the number of victims and cases of extra-judicial killings and torture in West Papua has not significantly reduced between 2012 and 2016.

“The number of political arrests has exponentially increased over the last three years and all victims of torture and killings that our partners were able to find were indigenous Papuans,” said Ms Duituturaga.

“While indigenous Papuans make up only some 40 per cent of the population, they make up 100 per cent of the victims. There is a clear element of racial violence in the practice of security forces.”

Ms Duituturaga said the systematic disempowerment of West Papuans is such that literacy rates in remote regions have dramatically decreased, with some villages registering literacy rates as low as 20 per cent.

“Since 2007, Indonesia has not allowed any special procedures to visit West Papua. The region is largely closed for international human rights observers. Foreign journalists get either no access or are accompanied by intelligence, making independent fact finding impossible.

“That’s just the tip of the iceberg and that’s what PIANGO representative, Laitia Tamata is helping to support the PICWP delegation raise awareness on in Geneva.”

Ms Tamata was one of the six panellists at the UNHRC side event jointly organised by the Permanent Mission of the Solomon Islands, state members and the Office of the Chair of PICWP called, ‘Shining the Light on the Human Rights Situation on West Papua’ on March 3.

Other panellists included the Solomon Islands Special Envoy for West Papua, Rex Horoi, Parliamentary Secretary to the Vanuatu Prime Minister and Head of Desk for Decolonization Johnny George Koanapa, Jakarta-based Indonesian Human Rights Lawyer Veronica Koman, Executive Officer of Justice and Peace of Archdiocese of Brisbane, Australia, Peter Arndt and Peaceful Conflict Resolution Facilitator, West Papua, Octovianus Mote. The discussions were moderated by Vanuatu Ambassador to EU, Roy Micky Joy.