Hiding In Your Cupboard

Hiding In Your Cupboard
Banksy's desecration of the Palestinian wall

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Political Shennanigans etc

The news story I am waffling on about here can be seen by clicking on the title.

I am not sure whether it is reason to be happy or reason to be deeply depressed that we live in a world where a politician will appear as a breakdancing dwarf to curry favour.

Rodney Hide, the leader of ACT: a relatively small right of centre NZ political party, has apparently appeared on a celebrity "who can dance" style show. It clearly hadn't helped as he swivelled awkwardly, flapping his arms like a horny amphibian.

He danced with the social grace and timing of your mother-in-law at a wedding.

I'm genuinely torn. On the one hand it's good to see a politician actually involving himself with something. Better that than churning out politspeak at a rate of knots.

But on the other, the cause he was fighting for was just naff.

Hide was trying to make the point that education funding should go to the child rather than to schools. That way all our children can go to drama school and rehearse pantomimes while they dream of becoming the next Britney "too many beers' Spears.

Is this everyone's dream Hide.

I hope not.

Perhaps other politicians could take a leaf out of Hide's unorthodox book though...

Mugabe could promote his party by appearing in a stage version of the Last King Of Scotland

Gordon Brown could tour the UK in a campervan hoping nobody will notice he isn't at work.

John Key could do a sponsored stint in the history section at Auckland library

That Green party guy with dreads could (and perhaps should) have a televised haircut

Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton could see how much money they can possibly spend promoting themselves when they could have stayed at home farting into tea cups for free.

McCain could do a documentary on a chip factory.

Any other offers are welcome..


WEST PAPUA: Media confusion reigns over ‘non military strikes’

Asia-Pacific Journalism, 12 June 2008

Disputed reports of military sweeps in West Papua have cast a spotlight on the Indonesian government’s restrictions on media in the area, reports James Murray.

A month-long military sweep of villages in the Jayawijaya region of West Papua may have targeted civilians in its search for “separatist symbols” according to the Cenderawasih Post in Jayapura.

However, confusion about the sweep – which apparently never happened - has highlighted the need for greater media access in the Indonesian-ruled province.

Maire Leadbeater, of the Indonesian Human Rights Committee, says there is doubt surrounding the accuracy of the story.

She cites a report from Catholic Justice and Peace (SKP) that suggests Suara Papua Merdeka (SPM), a Papuan media outlet that translates as the Voice of Papuan Independence, got the story wrong.

According to SKP, the police and military became involved due to a village conflict over a stolen pig.

Although there was a military raid on the thief’s family and extended family it seems nobody was killed.

Misleading stories like this only serve to highlight the Indonesian government’s media restrictions in West Papua, says Leadbeater.

“If they would open up West Papua and it was easier for people to communicate freely we perhaps would not get these misleading stories,” she says.

The executive secretary of the umbrella human rights group FOKER, Septer Manufandu, echoed these sentiments.

He said journalists “must clarify the truth” when writing stories about West Papua as much “news” from the province was propaganda.

He said the Cenderawasih Post was government-backed. The report seemed surprising considering that many people would regard such a military strike as poor public relations for the Indonesian government.

Manufandu, who recently visited New Zealand, regards Pax Christi and local news agencies such as Jubi as reliable sources.

FOKER is an umbrella organisation that co-ordinates 64 non-governmental organisations in West Papua and campaigns for human rights and development strategies that involve the indigenous population.

The confusion does not lie only with those fighting for West Papuan rights and independence. Even the Indonesian Embassy seemed confused by events.

When asked about the “military sweeps”, Tri Purnajaya, First Secretary of the Indonesian Embassy, said he did not know how extensive they were but assumed they were quite moderate.

He added there had been “some arrests” and those who been arrested were awaiting sentence.
He said “Indonesia adopts a liberal press. In fact – the most liberal in the region. The government guarantees freedom of expression throughout Indonesia including Papua.”
However, in a commentary published in the latest Pacific Journalism Review, Leadbeater disputed this claim.

“While Indonesia keeps this troubled province off limits to foreign journalists and human rights investigators, Indonesia’s human rights credibility should be critically examined,” wrote Leadbeater.

This is despite Indonesia being re-elected in 2007 to the United Nations Human Rights Council for a three-year term.

According to Leadbeater, only a handful of journalists have been allowed access to West Papua.
In 2007, two United Nations rapporteurs, Hina Jilani and Manfred Nowak, were granted access.
Both rapporteurs raised concerns regarding military and police harassment, arbitrary detention, torture and persecution of those who sought to investigate human rights investigations.

In the same year, BBC correspondent Lucy Williamson reported on extreme poverty and allegations of human rights abuses after being granted a permit to report on the opening of an independent radio network in the Papuan central highlands.

According to Leadbeater, the only stories that seemed to gain government support were small human interest stories. The United Nations and BBC journalists had inadvertently caused a tightening of media control:

“Some Papuans believe that access may have tightened up since the BBC visit.”

Lindsay Murdoch, of the Melbourne Age, also believes Indonesia’s record on media freedom is below par.

When asked about the amount of media coverage of immigration issues in West Papua, Murdoch replied:

“Disgraceful, virtually non-existent. Jakarta's refusal to allow journalists free access to Papa is one of the main reasons. Also, Jakarta comes down hard on any foreign NGOs which expose human rights abuses or issues like the Islamisation of Papua.”

Media coverage of West Papua is also scant in neighbouring Papua New Guinea’s press.
Patrick Matbob wrote in Pacific Journalism Review that “there had been a dramatic decline in the Papua New Guinea press coverage of West Papua over the past 20 years”.

This lack of coverage is linked to a general decline in the PNG media, specifically now that the PNG media now relies heavily on official sources.

Matbob’s news content analysis of the Times of PNG and the Post-Courier revealed that in 1984 there were 133 news stories published on West Papua. By 2006 this number had declined to 70, with many of the stories included in the “briefs” sections.

PNG media coverage is especially relevant to West Papua as more than 10,000 Papuan refugees live there.