PNG Wants to Eradicate Chinese “Bad Apples”

PNG Wants to Eradicate Chinese “Bad Apples”

By Angela Marie Watkins
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania

PORT MORESBY, Papua New GuineaPapua New Guinea’s Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister, Sam Abal, has called on the Chinese government to help eradicate “bad apples” from breaking PNG’s laws.

“[We need] cooperation from the Chinese government to help us to separate the general Chinese and those who do wrong,” Abal said.

The Minister said that corruption, not just in immigration, is paralyzing PNG’s systems while resentment over growing Chinese dominance of businesses and their growing involvement in crime has built up over the years.

The Minister claimed that people are angry with foreigners, who do not have proper work permits and do not speak English, for coming in and running most of the small shops which Papua New Guineans should be doing.

The statements follow a wave of anti-Chinese violence and looting of Asian-run businesses in the country that began May 10th and killed four. The PNG Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, has apologized to the Chinese community for the violence and looting.

The Prime Minister also admitted that corruption in PNG’s police force, as well as the labor and immigration departments, were factors behind the unrest.

Troubles in PNG began on May 10th when workers clashed with management at the Chinese-run Ramu nickel mine in Madang Province, on the northeast coast, after a PNG worker was injured by a tractor.

In the same week in Port Moresby, Noel Anjo Kolae organized and led an anti-Chinese protest that ended in violence and looting, sparking similar attacks across PNG.

For more information, please see:

Radio New Zealand International – PNG government calls for Chinese help in weeding out bad apples26 May 2009

The Age – Anti-Asian tensions simmer in PNG26 May 2009

Journalist on Filipino Military “Hit List”

By Hyo-Jin Paik
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

MANILA, Philippines – A freelance journalist Carlos Conde, who regularly writes for The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune, has been named as an enemy target in a list titled “order of battle” compiled by the Filipino Army.  The list names individuals who are not doing anything illegal, but are nevertheless killed with impunity.

Carols conde

“Why my name is included in the ‘order of battle’ is a mystery,” said Conde.  “[T]his [list] has caused anxiety and fear in my family, because, as we all know, an ‘order of battle’ in the Philippines is a veritable hit list.”

Carols H. Conde (Source: Asia Sentinel)

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said that the Filipino government’s failure to end the culture of impunity against journalists and the media has given the country a reputation for being one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in the world.

Since President Gloria Arroyo took power in 2001, more than 60 journalists have been killed.  Six out of the seven journalists killed in the Philippines in 2008 were murdered, and two journalists escaped murder attempts in February of this year.  Most recently, on May 20, 2009, a journalist was shot and wounded in Zamboanga Sibugay, a southern province of the Philippines.  The Committee to Protect Journalist released a report in March stating that 24 murder cases of journalists remain unsolved in the Philippines, which is one of the world’s highest number of media killings.

“The Government of Gloria Arroyo-Macapagal (sic) must accept responsibility not just for its silence on impunity against journalists but for actively encouraging suspicion and violence against the Philippines media community,” said IFJ’s Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park.

Conde suspects that his time as one of the coordinators of National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, during which he staged local campaigns protesting against murders of journalists, may be the reason for his inclusion in the hit list.  Media rights activist groups are urging the Filipino government to immediately clarify this situation.
For more information, please see:

Asia Sentinel – A Filipino Journalist and a Hit List – 19 May 2009

Committee to Protect Journalists – Philippine Journalist alleges he is on military ‘hit list’ – 20 May 2009

GMA News – Gov’t urged to explain journalist’s inclusion in Army ‘hit list’ – 28 May 2009

Reporters Without Borders – A journalist on army target list, another shot, possibly by soldier – 22 May 2009

Fiji Law Society Raided

By Angela Marie Watkins
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania

SUVA, Fiji – Over the weekend, the offices of the Fiji Law Society were raided, files were removed, and the Society’s president was informed that the government will take over licensing lawyers and the handling of any complaints, including its own against the lawyers.

Society president, Dorsami Naidu, told Radio New Zealand the new chief registrar, Ana Rokomokoti, and men in plain clothes demanded entry to the society’s Suva offices. They then took confidential files relating to complaints against law society members, and the chief registrar told staff a decree had been issued effectively deregulating the society. The society was told it would no longer be in charge of licensing lawyers, and membership would no longer be compulsory.

One staff member was threatened with arrest.

The raid follows the military regime’s reappointment of judges last Friday, six weeks after firing them all.

Those reinstated included two High Court justices who previously ruled that the military’s 2006 coup was legal.

All practicing certificates will expire on June 30.

For more information, please see:

Radio New Zealand – New Zealand Law Society – New Zealand Law Society says Fiji’s regime further threatening independence of legal system – 25 May 2009

The New Zealand Herald – Law Society says Fiji raid ‘serious development’ – 25 May 2009

The New Lawyer – Fiji law society attack angers Aus lawyers – 25 May 2009

Evidence of Human Rights Abuses Uncovered in Northern Burma

By Hyo-Jin Paik
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

KACHIN, Burma – Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) found new evidence of human rights violations in Burma.  CSW said they heard horrifying, first-hand testimonies of rape, religious discrimination, land confiscation, and human trafficking of ethnic minorities in Kachin State of northern Burma.

Benedict Rogers, CSW’s East Asia Team Leader, said ethnic Kachin people, especially women, live in constant fear of the Burmese soldiers, yet no one dares to intervene.  Rogers also said that despite the ceasefire between the ruling junta and the Kachin Independent Organization, people of Kachin continue to suffer severe restriction, discrimination, and military impunity.


Villagers fleeing Burma Army troops (Source: AP)

CSW report included an account of a local pastor who was forced by the Burmese military to make a speech at a public rally denouncing human rights campaigners and claiming complete religious freedom.  Furthermore, CSW spoke with a 21-year old student who was raped and strangled by Burma Army soldiers.  The rape victim did file a complaint and requested investigation, but no action was ever taken.  She merely received 100,000 Kyats for medical care, a rice bag, and cooking oil.

“Many rape cases in Kachin State go unreported because victims are afraid and [too] ashamed to report it. There are many more cases we don’t know about,” said Rogers. He added, “No women are safe in Kachin State.”

Kachin Development Networking Group’s Chairman Awng Wa, who works inside Burma, described the current situation by stating that, “You can hear of rape cases everywhere, if there is a military camp set up.  But no one dares to complain because they are afraid that it could create… more repression.”  The Chairman further added, “Land confiscation and forced labor are common too.”

According to Rogers, the Kachin people feel forgotten by the international community.  He said, “It is time that their voices are heard, and that the international community responded to the political, social, humanitarian and environmental disaster in northern…Burma.”
For more information, please see:

Chinland Guardian – CSW: Chin and Kachin Face Brutalities in Burma – 25 May 2009

The Christian Post – CSW Uncovers More Evidence of Human Rights Abuses in Burma – 25 May 2009

Christian Today – SCW uncovers more evidence of human rights abuses in Burma – 25 May 2009

Mizzima News – Junta violations severe in Northern Burma: CSW – 25 May 2009

Demolitions of Palestinian Homes in Jerusalem Continue

By Ann Flower Seyse
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

JERUSALEM, Israel – Despite calls from the United Nations for demolitions of Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem to cease, the city continues to demolish what it calls “illegally developed” homes. The deputy mayor, Naomi Tsur, says that all residents of Jerusalem are being treated equally. Tsur insists that all homes built without permit are being destroyed, regardless of their being in east or west Jerusalem.

The Israeli police pounded on the doors and entered homes as if they were executing a raid. One resident was told that she had five minutes to don her scarf, collect her valuables, and get out of the house. One thousand illegally built homes in Jerusalem have been marked for demolition so far this year. Israeli based NGO B’Tselem estimates that that number could double in the next few months.

Amidst the rubble of her home a Palestinian girl gets food from her fridge. Her home in east Jerusalem was demolished on April 22. Image Courtesy of Tara Todraswhitehill/AP
Iw picture memorial day
Many Palestinians whose homes have been demolished admit that they built their home without a permit. Permits are difficult to get, because there is only a limited percentage of land that Palestinians are allowed to build on, and most of this land is already being used. Out of the seventy square kilometers that constitute the west bank and east Jerusalem that were annexed by Israel, only thirteen percent is zoned for Palestinian construction.

Even changes to existing homes, like additions, are subject to Jerusalem’s strict building permit regulations. In Jerusalem’s Old City, a resident has been ordered to demolish a room of his house and to pay a 6,000 shekel fine (1,500 USD). The resident was given 45 days to comply, or he faces a three month jail term. He had already paid an 8,000 shekel fine in 2004 for building the room onto his house.

Jerusalem is allegedly stingy in their granting of building permits. Many Palestinians are denied permits if they submit applications, which discourages many other citizens from even attempting to get the proper permits. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) alleges that the building permit process and the current demolition practices are all part of a plan to remove the Palestinians from Jerusalem.

Mayor Nir Barkat’s administration denies the allegations of the ACRI, and recently announced that 13,500 additional housing units would be allowed in east Jerusalem. These additional units are not an immediate solution, only part of a city plan for the year 2030. The city has a large development plan that will allow a developer to create a large tourist complex near the Old City, and supports a group that buys Palestinian land in east Jerusalem, and relocates the Palestinians to more Arab neighborhoods.

The demolitions and restrictions on Palestinian development in Jerusalem add to the difficulties of the peace process and the proposed two state solution. With mounting pressure from the United States and world wide for peace, Israel will be under more scrutiny for its city planning measures that appear to be discriminatory in effect.

For more information, please see:

BBC News – Demolitions build Jerusalem tension – 25 May 2009

Ma’an News Agency – Jerusalem Court orders Palestinian to demolish room of his home – 24 May 2009

BBC News – Jerusalem Mayor ‘stepping up demolitions’ – 19 May 2009

Christian Science Monitor – In Jerusalem, an uptick in demolition orders of Arab homes – 19 May 2009

United Nations Radio – End Palestinian demolitions in Jerusalem, UN tells Israel – 1 May 2009