BEING locked in a room filled with mosquitos sounds worrying but laboratory technicians from the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research (PNGIMR) looked forward to it.
Situated inside an isolated room in Yagaum outside Madang where the PNGIMR base has piles of containers with different species of mosquitos collected by the institute’s field officers.
Laboratory technician Hega Sakel is a specialist who does the worrying job of separating females from male mosquitos.
It’s a difficult task for anyone to identify the sex of the mosquitos but for Sakel it’s a flick of a finger because she knows what she is doing.
Male mosquitos have moustache and females do not.
Sakel collects the female mosquitos which are then fed with parasite-infected blood samples. Those mosquitoes were fed with different blood samples to see if parasites in them developed inside the mosquitos.
Senior scientific officer Rebecca Vinit said the mosquitoes would then be dissected and blood samples recorded and used for further studies.
The study on mosquitos were for transmission of malaria or filariasis parasites.
Filariasis is also known as elephantiasis which cause swollen limbs.
Vinit said Anopheles mosquitos transmitted malaria and filariasis.
She said different environments had different species of Anopheles mosquitos.
Places along river banks like in East Sepik and Ramu in Madang had many mosquitos and among them they had their own species of Anopheles mosquitos.
THE current wet season experienced in some parts of the country continue to cause disasters and heart aches for some.
Take for example the Womkama community ward 16 and 17 of the Mt Wilhelm LLG area of Gembogl district in Chimbu.
According to local Tobby Sundu, 20 families lost their heavily cropped gardens of bulb onions, broccoli, kaukau, sugar cane and taro to landslides.
Sundu said the landslides had not stopped there but also made the way to block off many sections of the Kundiawa-Gembogl road from Kombrume Bridge to Bendam which made it impassable for vehicles.
He said the disasters were reported to the Kundiawa/Gembogl district authorities and they were on site to assess the situation.
The weather office is keeping a close watch over the current weather patterns and will warn the public as there is a 30 to 40 per cent chance of a tropical cyclone hitting the country.
“People should always be mindful of the weather and heed warnings during this wet and tropical weather conditions,” acting director of the National Weather Service Jimmy Gomoga said.
Gomoga warned the people to exercise more care during the rainy weather.
He said the weak La-Nina weather conditions were prevailing, resulting in the wetter than usual conditions. The country should be braced for more rainfall, mostly in the Southern region because of the wet and weather conditions.
“Port Moresby drivers be careful on the road during this rainy season,” Gomoga said.
“Areas of concern during the season are the Highlands, Mamose and Southern region – a lot of rain is expected to create high chances of landslides in the Highlands and possible strong winds and rough seas along the coast.”
THE Minister of Finance and Treasury, and Deputy Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare says the Leader of Opposition or whoever advised the Leader on the Government’s approach to settle the $204 million on outstanding bills grossly lacks understanding on the whole issue.
Mr Sogavare said if the Leader of Opposition as claimed in the Solomon Star issue on Friday 8 December 2017, wished to be provided the outline of $204 million outstanding claims and invoices in the system, he should formally write to the Finance Minister to obtain accurate answers rather than spilling out ill-conceived statements in the media.
In responding to the Leader of Opposition, Mr Sogavare said, “that the published article is unclear to ascertain whether it is from the Leader of the Official Opposition, or from a Journalist scavenging for information.
“Irrespective of who sought the information, what we can confirm at this level is that both the Constituency Development Fund; and the National Transport Initiative Programme payments made up the large proportion of the outstanding invoices,” Mr Sogavare stated.
He added, “the Government is committed to clear some of these payments, grants, contracts and essential payments including utility bills, rentals, and other fixed costs.
“The Government has taken full responsibility of the current cash flow situation since assuming power and is committed to ensure that fiscal situation is brought under control in 2018.”
In relation to the final settlement of the outstanding agreement with LSL for the acquisition of Hells Point and Bloody Ridge land parcels and transfer of 20% shares in RIPEL to the SIG, Mr Sogavare assures the Opposition Leader and public in general, that any transaction will be transparently executed in accordance with mandatory requirements and to suggest otherwise indicates a lack of understanding about management of public finances.
A New Zealand parliament select committee has heard there is currently no pathway for West Papua to be put on the UN decolonisation list.
The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee was today briefed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about West Papua, following an earlier hearing in June.
A committee member, government MP Louisa Wall, asked about a recent petition to the UN from the indigenous people of Indonesian-ruled Papua region seeking re-inscription with the Decolonisation Committee, or C24. West Papua had been on the list in the early 1960s before being removed when Indonesia took control of the territory.
Ministry officials said that for West Papua to be added to the list again there first needed to be a resolution in the UN general assembly.
“The problem at the moment is there’s actually no pathway back for it to go to the C24 if it’s blocked by the C24 – Indonesia (which is a member of the C24) would need to agree,” said Stephen Harris, the Divisional Director of South and South East Asia Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
But Ms Wall said West Papua was a “growing and emerging issue in the Pacific”, suggesting it would increasingly demand a concerted response by New Zealand.
“How interested are we in the Pacific Island interest in the emancipation of Papua? Because it’s not going to go away. I can see resolutions in the Pacific islands Forum soon that want us as a block of sixteen countries to be doing something possibly putting an application so they can be added to this non-self governing territory list.”
However, Mr Harris said sentiment on this issue amongst Pacific Island countries was “quite varied”.
“There is not a block of sixteen Pacific Island countries who think the same on this.”
He said that reports about Indonesia’s official reaction to some of the expressions of political voice in Papua were “disturbing”.
According to Mr Harris, New Zealand tended to register its concern about human rights abuses at the ministerial level.
“Since June there has been an upwelling of public unrest that I mentioned with the armed insurrection in a couple of villages in Papua. At the same time there’s been redoubling, I think, by the Inodnesian president Joko Widodo to try and invest more of his personal political capital in to progress there.”
Mr Harris said that human and social indicators showed that Papuans generally lagged behind people in other parts of Indonesia by a long way.
Indonesia’s Minister of Defence has called for members of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua to be arrested when they return to the country.
The pro-independence organisation has just concluded a summit in Vanuatu, where the UK-based activist Benny Wenda was elected its new chairman.
Vanuatu’s government also donated a building in Port Vila to the Movement for its use as a Pacific regional headquarters.
While the Movement has observer status in the Melanesian Spearhead Group, Indonesia’s government is opposed to it representing Papuans internationally, as well as its pro-independence activities.
A number of the Movement’s executive members live in exile, but some of those who had travelled to Vila for last week’s summit face possible arrest when they return to the Indonesian-ruled Papua region.
According to Indonesian media, the Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said that those involved in the summit should be arrested on their return.
He also expressed disappointment at the involvement of diplomats from Melanesian countries who actively support the Liberation Movement.
In an exclusive interview with the first Adventist President of Fiji, Major General Jioji Konusi Konrote has called on all church members to remain faithful to God and show reverence for God in all that they do.
A former career soldier from Rotuma Island in Northern Fiji, he had served in war-torn countries including the Middle East and placed his safety in his faith in God.
While his country is making waves globally on climate change as Chair of COP23, the President who was accompanied by the First Lady, Sarote Faga Konrote, arrived in Port Vila on a low key mission as Chancellor of USP, to attend the graduation ceremony at Emalus Campus on December 1.
He and his entourage which included Fiji High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, Esala Teleni, worshipped at Potoroki Church last Sabbath (Saturday).
Prior to becoming Head of State, he held the Portfolio of Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations and served as Fiji High Commissioner to Canberra from 2001-2006
He also served as Commanding Officer of Peacekeeping Missions in the Middle East in Lebanon and Sinai.
He was elected Fiji’s 5th President on October 12, 2015 and the first President to be elected by Parliament under the 2013 Constitution.
He was also the first non-ni Taukei (a Rotuman) to be elected President. He first came to Vanuatu to attend late President Baldwin Lonsdale’s funeral last June.
Asked to touch on global leaders he has held talks with in recent times, the President said he has met with numerous world dignitaries including Queen Elizabeth now over 90 years old. He spoke well of the Queen saying she was in good health. His ten-minute appointment with her extended to a 45 minutes audience!
He also had an audience with the Pope who controls approximately one billion Catholics. A key point he dwelled on with the Pope is addressing climate change as Fiji holds the COP23 Chair and wants to protect the interests especially of small island countries in the Pacific, and also to advance the global cause so it will be helpful when handing over the COP Chairmanship to Poland. He met with numerous non-Christian leaders, Muslims and even atheists where he advocated unity and peace.
After meeting the Queen in London, European leaders in Brussels asked why he was going to Iraq and Syria as they are trouble spots. He replied that he is a former soldier himself, and now as the President of Fiji, he has faith in God’s protection to visit Fijian Peacekeepers in these countries.
The President said as much as he would have loved to stay for the Games in Port Vila, his other commitments at home would not allow him to extend his stay. He returned to Fiji yesterday.
The West Papua Home in Port Vila, a gift from the people of Vanuatu is shared in the unique Melanesian way by United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) and Further Arts, a ni-Vanuatu charitable organisation which has devoted years towards the West Papua struggle.
The photograph of the Crow’s Nest we carried on the front page last Friday was not the building that was handed over to ULMWP and Further Arts. The picture was taken based on the Government invitation which said the venue of the ceremony was Crow’s Nest.
In fact the West Papua Home is the newly repaired premises on the opposite outcrop overlooking Anabrou.
The title of the land and key to the premises were handed over to the new owners last Friday following a parade from Fatumaru Bay to the venue.
We apologize for the confusion to the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs, ULMWP, Further Arts, Minister of Lands, Prime Minister, Chairman of Vanuatu Free West Papua Association and anyone who has been misled by the picture.
According to Mr Ayamiseba, the office building would serve as the Liberation’s home base from where its international diplomacy lobbying efforts will be co-ordinated.
“It demonstrated the commitment of the Vanuatu government, as a member of the UN, to our case,” he said.
Vanuatu’s prime minister Charlot Salwai, and his deputy Joe Natuman, officially handed over the title to the land and the key to the on Friday, which was an important anniversary in the Papuan independence struggle.
The first of December is the anniversary of West Papua’s declaration of independence when the Morning Star flag was first raised.
It’s 56 years since the Papua nationalist flag was first officially flown in the former Dutch New Guinea, shortly before Indonesia took control of the territory.
The flag was subsequently banned after Indonesia took control of the former Dutch New Guinea in 1962.
In West Papua, simply raising the Morning Star flag – a symbol of the island’s fight for independence from Indonesia – can result in 15 years of imprisonment.
But more than 12,000 kilometres away in the UK, the forbidden flag was raised this morning outside Oxford’s town hall for the tenth year in a row.
Oxford is one of more than 250 locations across 50 countries worldwide expected to raise the Morning Star flag today in a show of solidarity with tens of thousands of West Papuans calling for international intervention in the fight for independence from Indonesia.
“In West Papua, the whole essence of our humanity is being reduced to nothing. We are treated like animals and endure what some have described as an ‘apartheid-like’ military occupation,” exiled Free West Papua campaign leader Benny Wenda, who was granted political asylum in the UK in the early 2000s, and lives in Oxford, told The Independent.
“Tens of thousands of us have been forced to flee as refugees and those that stay live under constant terror. Almost every day, people are arrested without reason, tortured and killed at the hands of the Indonesian government.”
An undated document published on the UNHCR website states that Papua New Guinea alone has taken in as many as 10,000 refugees from West Papua since 1985.
The West Papua Morning Star flag has been raised outside Oxford town hall this morning in support of the Free West Papua campaign
Today’s flag-raising protests come two months after a petition that gained over 1.8 million signatures – more than 70 per cent of West Papua’s population – was presented to the United Nations, calling on the organisation to investigate human rights abuses on the island.
It also demanded that the UN’s Decolonisation Committee (C-24) put West Papua back on its agenda to “ensure their right to self-determination … is respected by holding an internationally supervised vote”.
“Carrying out [the petition] took months of dedicated hard work and commitment after years of planning,” Mr Wenda said.
“It was also incredibly dangerous because the Indonesian government immediately banned the petition and stated that anyone who signed it would be arrested.”
The Free West Papua campaign claims that 57 people were arrested by the Indonesian military for supporting the appeal.
The petition was rejected by the C-24 however, with its chair, Rafael Ramírez, telling The Guardianno petition regarding West Papua could be accepted due to the committee’s mandate being extended exclusively to the 17 states identified by the UN as “non-self-governing territories”.
“West Papua is not a matter for the C-24,” Mr Ramírez said. “We are just working on the countries that are part of the list of non-self-governing territories. That list is issued by the general assembly.”
“One of the principles of our movement is to defend the sovereignty and the full integrity of the territory of our members. We are not going to do anything against Indonesia as a C-24.”
The C-24 did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Independent and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees said it could not comment on decisions made by other UN bodies.
West Papuans have been calling on the United Nations to intervene in what has been called a “slow-moving genocide” for decades, as the Indonesian military continues to occupy the Asian island.
The province was once on the committee’s agenda, when it was a Dutch colony known as Netherlands New Guinea, but it was taken off the list in 1963 when the territory was annexed by Indonesia.
In 1969, an Act of Free Choice referendum meant to decide whether West Papua would join Indonesia or become independent was supervised by the UN.
However, researchers at Australia’s Griffith University have notedthat less than 1 per cent of the West Papuan population was selected by the Indonesian government to represent the entire territory and that those representatives were “coerced to vote for the official integration of West Papua into Indonesia”.
They estimate that in the last 50 years, more than 500,000 people have been killed in West Papua as a result of the Indonesian government’s occupation, calling the situation in Indonesia a “slow-moving genocide”.
Amnesty International and Human Rights watch have also put the death toll at 500,000.
“No one knows if they are going to be the next person killed, but every West Papuan person can tell you about family members who have been,” Mr Wenda said.
“As a child, I remember the Indonesian military bombing my village and in front of my eyes they raped my aunties and beat up my mother just because she didn’t have an ID card.”
“The Indonesian government has been able to keep this very quiet and so West Papua has been one of the forgotten stories in the world,” human rights lawyer Melinda Janki said.
Ms Janki says she learned of West Papua’s plight after she was approached by Mr Wenda a decade ago for legal advice.
“This violation of the people’s rights to self-determination seems to have been completely forgotten.
“It all sort of culminated in 1969 in what the Indonesians have called the ‘Act of Free Choice’, but which was really an exercise in which they brought 1,022 people together and basically forced them at gunpoint to say that they wanted to remain as Indonesian, so there really are not grounds for saying that this was a genuine act of self-determination.
“That was in 1969 and nearly 50 years later this issue continues to be buried,” Ms Janki continued. “I think it’s been an enormous failure on the part of the United Nations and I think the General Assembly spectacularly failed to take into account the rights of the West Papuans.”
The UK’s parliamentary group on West Papua has called Indonesia’s presence in West Papua an “illegal occupation” based on a “sham referendum”.
“Put simply, it’s an illegal occupation. Promised its original independence from the Dutch in 1962, West Papua’s incorporation into Indonesia followed in 1969 after what was widely acknowledged to be a sham referendum, engineered by the economic interest of the Indonesia government,” Labour MP Alex Sobel told The Independent.
“The colonised territory is rich in gold, copper, natural gas, forests and fisheries from which the indigenous population see very little, to no benefit.”
He continued: “The UN will not be able to avoid this issue forever and as [the Free West Papua campaign’s] petition proves, the West Papuan people refuse to be silenced,” adding: “Quite simply, it’s an unacceptable part of the UN’s history that must now be put right.”
Melanesian leaders have also accused the United Nations of turning a “deaf ear” to human rights abuses in West Papua.
The Prime Ministers of the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu called on the UN’s Human Rights Council to launch a formal investigation into human rights abuses in the province at the UN General Assembly in New York in September.
Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai told the assembly: “For half a century now the international community has been witnessing a gamut of torture, murder, exploitation, sexual violence and arbitrary detention inflicted on the nationals of West Papua, perpetrated by Indonesia, but the international community has turned a deaf ear to the appeals for help. We urge the Human Rights Council to investigate these cases.”
“We also call on our counterparts throughout the world to support the legal right of West Papua to self-determination and to jointly with Indonesia put an end to all kinds of violence and find common ground with the nationals to facilitate putting together a process which will enable them to freely express their choice.”
A spokesperson from the Indonesian Embassy in the UK told The Independent: “We categorically reject allegations concerning the ‘slow moving genocide’ or any other jargon to exaggerate the human rights situation in Papua.
“In fact, promotion and protection of human rights have been one of the most important elements in Indonesia since we became a democracy in 1998. The government is working together with our national human rights institution, or the National Commission on Human Rights, and has established working groups to resolve past human rights issues in Papua and West Papua Provinces.
“While we continue to resolve those issues, one should not forget that human rights also include right to education, right to health, as well as right to adequate standards of living. President Jokowi [Joko Widodo] is putting efforts to make sure the people of Papua now gain access to much needed education and healthcare services.” The spokesperson added that Indonesia has seen a general hike in economic growth from 3.6 per cent in 2014 to 9.2 per cent in 2016 in Papua and West Papua.