Land-based indigenity

Antonio Josiah:

The road to self-reliance still stretches long before us. Country men and women, youth and other citizens who feel the strong desire to preserve our birthright should be vocal about it and not let anyone convince us otherwise. Land in Vanuatu is our life! We should protect it like the Jesuits protect Catholic interests! There is no time to be slack about issues of origin, security and independence. Let’s not become foreigners in out own land!

Originally posted on Vanuatu Daily Digest:

Land-based indigenity

Land-based indigenity was re-asserted in the Lelepa Declaration 2014 two weeks ago. Today’s news item concerning it in Daily Post is re-printed here, and there follows comment on the topic after Joel Simo of MILDA spoke to the Sydney Morning Herald last November.

Land-based indigenity re-asserted in Lelepa Declaration 2014

By Bob Makin

Melanesian indigenity being based in land itself was celebrated at Lelepa two weeks ago and resulted in a most important document which will be known as the Lelepa Declaration 2014. The conference of the Melanesian Indigenous Land Defence Alliance (MILDA) discussed “Inseparable – the Land, Food and People of Melanesia” and placed indigenity in a context such as that which gave birth to the Republic of Vanuatu.

There is nothing at all racist about the Lelepa Declaration even though MILDA clearly sees increasing threats to the customary land system posed by both reform and foreign…

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Demonstrate to free Papuan political prisoners – 2 April

Please help to make the voices of the many political prisoners in West Papua heard by attending this demonstration and representing one of the political prisoners currently incarcerated.

If you are able to attend the demonstration and willing to take on representing one of the political prisoners then please let us know by emailing and we will forward you information about the prisoner you will be assigned to represent.

West Papuan prisonerOn 2 April 2014, the Free West Papua Campaign will take part in a demonstration outside the Indonesian embassy in London to protest the ongoing detention of over 70 political prisoners in West Papua and to call for their immediate and unconditional release. The demonstration is being organised by TAPOL and will also be attended by Amnesty International UK and Survival International.

We will stage a visual protest, where selected demonstrators will ‘stand-in’ for political prisoners. A ‘stand-in’ demonstrator will represent a political prisoner, and will be seated on the floor, handcuffed and mouth taped shut. This will create the main narrative for the demonstration – to have the total number of political prisoners in Papua be immediately visualised. 76 prisoners represented by 76 demonstrators. Each ‘prisoner’ will be identified by name cards and when available, a photo. Other demonstrators will be invited to surround the ‘prisoners’ with placards and signs to bring voice to the protest.

Join us in our call to the Indonesian government to respect freedom of expression in West Papua and to unconditionally and immediately release all Papuan political prisoners. Call on Her Majesty’s Government in the UK to urge the Indonesian government to comply with its international and national obligations to respect human rights.

According to data from Papuans Behind Bars, the number of political arrests more than doubled in 2013 as compared with the previous year, and reports of torture and ill-treatment of political detainees have also increased. This points to a significant deterioration in the environment for freedom of expression in West Papua. Indigenous Papuans continue to be arrested for peaceful activities such as raising the Papuan Morning Star flag or attending demonstrations and public events that express dissent. Often they are charged with treason or incitement which can carry lengthy prison sentences. Peaceful activists are often charged with criminal violence, backed by fabricated evidence and unreliable testimony. While many political prisoners are in jail as a result of their peaceful political activities, others just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Journalists and lawyers face coercion, intimidation and violence from security forces who enjoy wide impunity. West Papua still remains largely closed to foreign journalists, NGOs and international organisations, making it difficult to accurately report on violations as they take place.

It has been asked for demonstrators not to fly Morning Star flags at the demonstration, purely to help get the media to focus on freedom of expression and Papuan political prisoner release.

For more information: /


The Office of Benny Wenda

United Kingdom 16 March 2014

In 2014 the Republic of Indonesia will try to hold elections in West Papua. We the Papuan peoples refuse to vote in these elections. Why?

Today West Papua is illegally occupied by Indonesia. We have a right to freedom. We will vote in a proper referendum on self-determination. But we will not vote in any election that continues Indonesia’s brutal and occupation of our land.

In 1963 Indonesia invaded our country and terrorised our people. For over 50 years Indonesia has tortured and killed us. The Indonesian military has killed more than 500,000 Papuan men, women and children. For over 50 years we have been dying for our freedom.

In 1969, Indonesia threatened 1024 of our tribal elders with torture and death if they did not say they wanted West Papua to be a part of Indonesia. Indonesia’s rule over West Papua is based solely on this event – the terrified acquiescence of less than 1% of the adult population. Indonesia has no right to be in West Papua. Indonesia has no right to hold any elections in our land.

I am calling to my peoples across our land, from coast to mountain, from island to island. Let us stay strong and united. Do not vote!

I am asking all the Papuan political organisations to talk to our people and tell them the truth. Do not let Indonesia fool them.

My dear sisters and brothers, my beloved elders, the world is waking up to our tears and our suffering. All over the world Members of Parliament are lobbying their governments to respect our right to self-determination.

I and the people of West Papua once more appeal to the international community for freedom and for justice. We are a peaceful people. We have dignity and a right to live. How many more of us must be killed before you will act?

Please hear our appeal:

  1. West Papua is illegally occupied by Indonesia: we ask Indonesia to leave our land immediately;
  2. We ask the United Nations to send a peacekeeping force to West Papua to replace the Indonesian military;
  3. We ask the international community, and particularly the USA and the Netherlands who have both played important parts in allowing Indonesia’s occupation, to act to restore us our freedom and respect our rights as human beings, including our rights to our natural resources. We are the people you must deal with, not the Indonesian government and military.
  4. We ask the United Nations to hold a true referendum among the Papuan peoples and let us decide once and for all whether we want Indonesian rule or freedom.

We, the Papuan peoples, have a right to freedom. We were a Dutch colony. We had a right to independence from the Netherlands. But it did not happen. One million tribal peoples in the Netherlands New Guinea were bartered like beads by the United States in return for Indonesia’s support and access to our vast wealth of natural resources. The United Nations betrayed us and gave Indonesia the responsibility for our independence. We are still waiting to exercise our right to self-determination.

If you want the Papuan peoples to vote – give us a referendum on our freedom.

Then we will vote!

Benny Wenda

West Papuan Independence Leader, living in exile in the United Kingdom

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Janet Echelman begins installation of 745-foot aerial sculpture in Vancouver: A making-of gallery

Antonio Josiah:

This will be one interesting piece of art/design to see come to life. Really looking forward to reading reviews on this type of innovation. Great initiative, although a big waste of money!

Originally posted on TED Blog:


A rendering of Janet Echelman’s soon-to-be sculpture, sponsored by Autodesk, outside TED2014. She collaborated with Aaron Koblin on the interactive artwork, powered by Google. “From blocks away, you will see some mysterious form floating in the sky,” says Echelman. “In the day, it’s very subtle, blending in with clouds and sky. At night, it comes alive with illumination and some surprises.” Image: Janet Echelman rendering

Janet Echelman is installing her new sculpture as we speak. Not in a gallery or on a pedestal, but instead soaring over the middle of downtown Vancouver. The installation involves cranes, hard hats and anchor points engineered atop two buildings: a 24-story hotel and the Vancouver Convention Centre where TED2014 will be held.

“After three years of work, it’s hard to believe it’s finally becoming real,” says Echelman. “It’s the first test of my sculpture woven into the city at this scale.”

[ted_talkteaser id=1164]Echelman’s sculpture…

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1984 vs. 2014: A comedic showdown

Antonio Josiah:

How the world has changed since 1984. Back then, this blogger was only 4 years old and couldn’t remember most of what was happening in his life.

Originally posted on TED Blog:

Maysoon Zayid cracked up the audience at TEDWomen. So as we approached our 30th anniversary, we asked her to reflect on how this year is different than 1984. Photo:

Maysoon Zayid cracked up the audience at TEDWomen. So for our 30th anniversary, we asked her to reflect on how this year is different than 1984. Photo: Marla Aufmuth

By Maysoon Zayid

This year TED says goodbye to its roaring twenties and hello to the big 3-O. To celebrate TED’s thirtieth birthday, I’m hopping in my DeLorean to take a look back in time. Has the world become a better place since we were introduced to the Sony Compact Disc at the first TED three decades ago, or does 2014 make us yearn for a simpler time when we possessed music, pictures, and books you could actually hold, that existed in reality and not in a Cloud?

When TED was born, I was 9 years old. The year was 1984, Princess Diana gave birth to the spare to the heir, TV sets in America were shouting, “Where’s the beef?” and…

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Guardian report Papuans ‘beaten and had guns held to head’

FEBRUARY 4, 2014

Indoneisan military move in towards a village in the Puncak Jaya region.

report in yesterday’s Guardian newspaper recounts the shocking story of a violent interrogation carried out by the Indonesian military and police in a village in the Puncak Jaya region of West Papua. The report details how villagers were woken up at 3am and one by one interrogated in the church yard. One of the victims states: “We were … surrounded by soldiers who were using guns … We were all terrified.”

The most shocking part of the report reads: ‘The victim said at least 200 police and army personnel were involved in the alleged operation and that seven villagers were arrested. “They were beaten up then taken away to the place of detention at the military post.” Among those detained were a church minister, office workers and local government department bureaucrats, he said.

The victim said he and other villagers were kicked and beaten with rifle butts while detained in the church until midday on Sunday 26 January, and that they remained “very scared”.

“The situation is not suitable yet to go into the town. The community is empty. There are five churches and they are also now empty,” he said when Guardian Australia spoke to him on Tuesday.

Two families were also forced at gunpoint to burn down their own houses, he said.’

The interrogation follows low level fighting between the Indonesian Military and an armed section of the Free Papua Movement (OPM). However the OPM claim full responsibility for their actions, “We carried out all the actions as acts of resistance in Puncak Jaya, to decide our own destiny. It wasn’t the community and church minister who they viciously treated that carried out those acts,” a spokesperson for the OPM, Yunus Enumbi, told West Papuan news outlet Jubi.

The full report can be read here.

Fijian opposition officially supports West Papua

FEBRUARY 11, 2014

UFDF Spokesman Mick Beddoes

The Fijian opposition has slammed Indonesian bribery and interference in the internal affairs of Melanesia and calls for support for the people of West Papua.

The United Front for a Democratic Fiji (UFDF)  has accused the Indonesian government of deliberately bribing and supporting the incumbent Fijian government in the upcoming elections after Indonesian Ambassador, Aidil Chandra Salim, said in a media interview that the Indonesian government was totally behind Commodore Bainimarama’s bid to become Fiji’s elected Prime Minister.

In a radio interview on 28th January, UFDF Spokesman Mick Beddoes, has condemned Indonesia’s bribery of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) by giving half a million dollars “in exchange for betraying an MSG commitment to the West Papua people”.

In a Press Release, the UFDF said “the call for Independence of West Papua is a matter that not only the MSG group should take up and support, but the Pacific Island Forum members including Australia and New Zealand should unite and support the West Papua’s people’s call for independence, just as we all sought our Independence from colonial rule many decades ago.”

The UFDF says that it “will lodge a formal protest against the Indonesian Government interference in Fiji’s domestic politics as well as in the MSG.”

The UFDF says “it sympathizes with the people of West Papua and is confident that after the 2014 elections, the new government elected by the people will develop a supportive and more engaging policy towards the West Papuan people’s quest for Independence.”

UPDATE: 12th February 2014

In a recent report Fijian businessman and former Politician Kaliopate Tavola admits that Fiji used the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) fact-finding mission to West Papua to discuss trade deals with Indonesia.

Ambassador for the 2014 Trade Pasifika Kaliopate Tavola said while the aim of mission was for the MSG to look at the situation on West Papua, it was also an opportunity for Fiji to seek bilateral agreements.

The visit was mandated by the MSG leaders to assess the application of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL) to become a member of the MSG.

Coalition head Andy Ayamiseba had said the fact-finding mission fell short of its mandate.

“To me and the West Papuan National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL), the so-called Melanesian Spearhead Group ministerial delegation visit to Indonesia and West Papua was a conflict of interest for Fiji and the Solomon Islands,” Mr Ayamiseba told Vanuatu Daily Post.

Although Mr Tavola did not have details of the bilateral agreement, he said any bilateral assistance to Fiji would be useful, especially coming from Indonesia, a country that had a lot of potential.

“Fiji was the leader of the delegation that went across and apart from the MSG mandate. The gain for Fiji is obviously the gain through the bilateral agreement that were carried out, as well as what will emanate from the West Papua situation,” he said.