brad brace

1/30/2009

Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 11:00 am

CLINICAL SLUMDOG KWASO GOLD TRIALS

Lihir Gold has reported a 26% rise in annual gold production to 882,000
ounces and forecast output this year would exceed 1 million ounces as new
mines in Africa and Australia are fully developed.

Armed police guarded cinemas in eastern India after slum dwellers ransacked
a picture house showing Slumdog Millionaire because they didn’t like the
use of the word “dog” in the title.

Seven officers were hurt in an attack and the blame is being attributed to
the illegal home-brew alcohol known as kwaso.

Expectations for a higher gold yield come despite a landowner wrangle over
royalties at the company’s main mine in Papua New Guinea that brought it to
a standstill.

Several hundred people rampaged through the cinema in Patna, capital of the
eastern state of Bihar and tore down posters advertising the film. They
said the title was humiliating and vowed to continue their protests until
it was changed.

Around 1500 litres of the brew was seized but that is considered to be only
a tiny drop in a very big ocean.

Lihir chief executive Arthur Hood said he was hoping for a quick resolution
that would enable the mine to restart but conceded he did not know how long
it would take. “I’d like to think we could get back to work in the next day
or so, but I’ve worked in Papua New Guinea a long time and these things are
always a little bit unpredictable,” he told reporters.

The protest was organised by Tateshwar Vishwakarma, a social activist who
filed a lawsuit over the title against four Indians involved in its
production – a lead actor, the music director and two others.

The explosion of the illegal trade, which results in potentially volatile
situations, is not easy for the police trying to contain it.

The dispute involves local islanders in the province of New Ireland, about
700 kilometres north-east of the capital Port Moresby, who want a bigger
share of the mine’s revenues.

Mr Hood said the company was already paying a 2% royalty to islanders on
all gold produced at the mine as well as awarding supply contracts worth
millions of dollars to local firms.

“Referring to people living in slums as dogs is a violation of human
rights,” said Mr Vishwakarma, who works for a group promoting the rights of
slum dwellers. We will burn Danny Boyle [the film’s British director]
effigies in 56 slums here.”

“The police can only do so much. We have a licensing squad of about 12
members and the community, chiefs and religious people have to get stuck in
too,” says Peter Marshall, Solomons Acting Police Commissioner.

“Last year we were looking at about $US130 million ($195 million) worth of
our supply contracts going to Lihirians,” he said.

The case will be heard in a Patna court, according to police. Kishori Das,
another activist, said: “We are in touch with like-minded organisations
across India to take the issue on a large scale.”

Prime Minister John Key visited Honiara to assess New Zealand’s role in the
regional assistance mission and he says it will be some time before NZ
assistance in the islands can be pulled out. “At least three to five years
and it could in all probability be longer than that,” Key says.

The overall increase in the company’s gold production was boosted by a
record yield of 315,000 ounces in the fourth quarter, Mr Hood said. It cost
on average $US400 to mine each ounce in 2008 but only $US353 per ounce for
the fourth quarter, he said. “This is exactly where we want to be,” he
said.

Social, political and religious activists in India often organise violent
protests over films to try to win publicity for their cause. In 1996, Fire,
a film about lesbianism, enraged Hindu fundamentalists who burnt down
several cinemas. In 2000, production of Water, a film about Hindu
widowhood, was moved from India to Sri Lanka after violence by Hindu
nationalists.

An organised gang member who agreed to talk on the condition of anonymity
says the gangs sell 60-70 litres of kwaso a day. The sellers, mostly in
village based gangs, take a quarter of the takings.

Gold currently sells for around $US900 an ounce. The Lihir mine produced
247,000 ounces in the last quarter, taking full year production to 771,000
ounces.

Slumdog Millionaire, which recently opened in India has been generally well
received, especially since it won four Golden Globes and 10 Oscar
nominations – including one for AR Rahman, the veteran composer.

Police believe the potent home-brew is fuelling violence and crime.

In the fourth quarter some 22% of the company’s gold was derived from
newly-developed mines in Australia and Ivory Coast, reflecting efforts to
geographically diversify operations, according to Mr Hood.

However, some reviewers, commentators and film industry insiders have
criticised it as “poverty porn” which glamourises the squalor of slums and
perpetuates Western stereotypes of India.

A carton of beer costs around 165 Solomon dollars but for the same effect
you can buy a bottle of kwaso for just $10. A small joint of marijuana
costs 50 cents (NZ$).

There had been no violence against employees or vandalism at the Lihir mine
site stemming from the dispute, he said.

About 40 Mumbai slum dwellers, organised by another social activist, held
up banners reading “Poverty for Sale” and “I am not a dog” outside the home
of Anil Kapoor, one of the film’s stars.

Many sellers say they do so for survival as the Solomon Islands are filled
with a lot of young unemployed people.

Lihir’s shares were up 4% at $3.15 in early afternoon trade, outpacing a
gain of 1% in the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index. Analysts expect Lihir to
report 2008 net profit of $US135 million, against a $US24 million loss in
2007.

Amitabh Bachchan, the veteran Bollywood star, also caused a stir when he
accused the film in his blog of portraying India as a “third-world, dirty,
underbelly developing nation”. Mr Bachchan has since apologised to Mr
Boyle, but was conspicuously absent from the film’s star-studded premiere
in Mumbai.

“Money is very hard to come by and the making of kwaso is an easy way of
making money,” says Marshall

After selling $1.2 billion in shares in 2007 to close out an unprofitable
gold hedge book, Mr Hood said the company was now benefiting from exposure
to rising prices of gold, one of the few commodities not ravaged by the
financial crisis.

Mr Kapoor, who grew up in a Mumbai slum, has denied that “slumdog” is
offensive, saying that children from the slums are called many worse things
in India. Simon Beaufoy, the screenwriter, said last week: “I just made up
the word. I liked the idea. I didn’t mean to offend anyone.” Two hours
after opening, the pediatric waiting room at All India Institute of Medical
Sciences is like the anteroom to hell. Families, anxious, restless, sweaty
in the soupy air, cram into plastic chairs, crouch in corners, crowd
doorways, clog up aisles. Cries jangle off the ceiling. Feces litter the
floor. Signs in the corridor attempt to impose order on the chaos:

Don’t spit.

Don’t feed the monkeys.

Don’t pay bribes.

“I think gold will remain very strong,” he said, adding that a weak US
dollar and the requirements for a flight to quality were keeping the yellow
metal from falling.

This overstretched government hospital and medical college treats about
4-million people a year. It’s also one of a growing number of Indian
hospitals that use their patients to gather data on experimental drugs
destined for Western markets. It recently was revealed that 49 children
have died during clinical trials at the institute.

1/27/2009

Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 8:30 am

WHITE-EYED WORLD BANK CHAOS REIGNS AS EXCHANGE STUDENTS RAMPAGE INCREASES FOOD PRICES

Filed under: kenya,nicaragua,rampage,solomon islands,usa,wildlife — admin @ 8:16 am

The Teachers strike in Nairobi turned chaotic as some primary school pupils
went on the rampage. Muslim Primary School pupils in Kawangware smashed
windows and destroyed property as they protested against their head teacher
who had forced them stay in school despite there being no teachers on duty.
Two pupils were injured and taken to hospital by their parents.

The World Bank approved a US$7 million grant to Nicaragua to help the
country mitigate the impact of increased food prices by providing immediate
relief to the most vulnerable groups and expanding the supply of
agricultural products.

Birds from the family Zosteropidae — also called “white eyes” — could be
poster children for rapid evolution.

At the nearby Kawangware Primary School, pupils were locked in the school
compound for hours even as they threatened to leave. Parents camped outside
the school and held a peaceful demonstration asking the head teacher to
release their children.

“This operation will support two existing government programs, thereby
ensuring their continuity and targeting to areas and individuals most
affected by the crisis,” said Laura Frigenti, World Bank Director for
Central America.

They form new species faster than any other known bird, according to new
research.

Police watched from a distance as the events unfolded. When the students
were released they went on the rampage stealing from passers by.
Photographer Stafford Ondego was not spared as pupils snatched his phone
and fled. He reported the incident at the chief’s camp.

“The first program will ensure that poor children in the most vulnerable
areas continue to receive lunch at school, maintaining their intake of
nutritive food at a time of crisis and encouraging their continued
attendance; and the second program will support small farmers to increase
their production during the next agricultural cycles,” she added.

Portland police have confirmed that a 17-year-old Peruvian exchange student
was one of two victims killed in a downtown shooting rampage.

Knut national treasurer Fred Ontere said the union would not relent until
their demands were met. However, he said the union was open to negotiations
but suggested the implementation of their pay raise be two phases.

DNA analysis reveals that all 80 species of white eyes emerged in the last
2 million years.

Police say Marta “Tika” Paz de Noboa of Arequipa, Peru, was shot when Erik
Salvadore Ayala fired into a crowd outside The Zone, an under-21 nightclub.

At Katina School in Dagoretti no teacher reported to work while in Old
Olympic Primary School in Kibera, only pupils turned up.

Between early 2006 and mid-2008 global food prices have increased
dramatically. In Nicaragua, domestic food price inflation increased from
10.7 percent in January 2006 to 34.2 percent in August 2008.

The second victim was 16-year-old Ashley Wilks, a sophomore at Clackamas
High School. Seven others were wounded before Ayala shot himself in the
head. He is in critical condition in a Portland hospital.

Police say they don’t know of any links between Ayala and the victims, and
the shooting may have been random. A handful of other birds and mammals
have been known to adapt to new environments in such short order, but white
eyes are unique because their speciation isn’t a simple reaction to shifts
in local habitats, said study author Christopher Filardi.

The head teacher said many of the pupils came to have breakfast and lunch
which the school offers.

High food prices affect a majority of Nicaraguans, but the poor are
disproportionately affected by high food inflation rates, as the share of
their incomes devoted to food purchases is larger than higher income
groups.

“White-eyes evolved into dozens of new species extremely fast while
simultaneously spreading across much of the southern hemisphere,” he said.
“At this geographic scale, there is no one thing from the outside that
could have made this happen; there is something special about those birds.”

Standard Eight pupils took over the role of teachers and they taught each
other. At Shadrack Kimalel in Ngumo Estate, pupils left after teachers
failed to turn up. Parents were seen picking pupils from primary schools
within the city.

The Emergency Food Price Response Project will support the ongoing Integral
School Nutrition Program (PINE), benefiting approximately 263,000 preschool
and primary school children in 52 municipalities (eight departments) who
experience severe or high poverty levels. This component will be
implemented by the Ministry of Education.

White eyes may evolve faster, in part, because females can start breeding
as young as four months old. It takes most tropical songbirds closer to a
year to reach sexual maturity, Filardi explained.

At Moi Avenue Primary School, journalists were barred from entering by a
lady who seemed to be in charge and only person in school. Parents, too,
were denied entry. She refused to comment on anything, instructing the
pupils to get into their classes and settle down. Parents remained at the
gate hoping to be allowed to take their children home.

The Agro-Seeds Program (Programa Agroalimentario de Semilla – PAS)
distributes a technological package of certified seeds, fertilizers,
training and technical assistance to beneficiaries in the form of a credit.
The loan can be reimbursed with in-kind contributions or in cash at the end
of each agricultural cycle.

And unlike most birds, white eyes are hardwired to be social. They forage,
travel, and even preen together, making it easier for them to colonize,
according to the study.

“This strike has come at a wrong time. We hope the Government and the
teachers reach a consensus. They should bear in mind the heavy toll this
crisis and last year’s post-poll chaos that kept our children out of school
for long,” Mr Jacob Otieno a parent at Moi Avenue primary school said.

The program will assist approximately 31,590 small producers from areas
where the agricultural cycle is most compromised. This component will be
executed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, with the support of
public sector agencies, such as the Nicaraguan Agricultural Technology
Institute, the Rural Development Institute, the Nicaraguan Basic Food
Company, and the Rural Credit Fund.

Once they arrive at a new location, they quickly settle in for the long
haul, genetically isolating themselves. Different species in the Solomon
Islands exist just 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) from one another. The splendid
white eye, is endemic to the Solomon Island of Ranongga and has a range
that can be traversed in a single day’s walk.

Elsewhere, in Western teachers boycotted going to their places of work. At
Nangina Girls Boarding Primary in Funyula, parents rushed to withdraw their
children from the school fearing for their security.

“The project will help in the design of other core programs of the National
Food and Nutrition Security Policy, such as the development of a nutrition
curriculum for children and teachers and the design of tools and guidelines
for the provision of child and maternal health services by the Ministry of
Health,” said Joseph Owen, World Bank Country Manager to Nicaragua.

1/20/2009

Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 5:57 am

MIGRANTS ADRIFT WITH POWERFUL QUAKES SEIZING KILINOCHCHI KINGDOM

A series of powerful earthquakes killed at least four people and injured
dozens more in remote eastern Indonesia, cutting power lines and destroying
buildings.

The loss of Kilinochchi, its capital, is a major blow to the Tamil Tiger
movement fighting for autonomy in the Sinhalese-dominated country. But the
army’s success in capturing the town does not mark the death of the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Thailand’s new prime minister was under pressure to answer allegations that
hundreds of Burmese and Bangladeshi migrants were set adrift at sea with
little food and water by the armed forces.

One of the quakes — a 7.3-magnitude tremor — sent small tsunamis into
Japan’s southeastern coast, but there were no reports of damage there and
no tsunami in Indonesia’s impoverished Papua area.

Kilinochchi was the LTTE’s political headquarters, strung out on the main
tarmac road from Colombo to Jaffna. The government could always strike it
at will by air, as it did when aircraft bombed the offices of SP
Thamilselvan, the man with whom foreign diplomats as well as the government
had frequently negotiated.

Abhisit Vejjajiva met with officials from the country’s human rights
commission amid claims that up to 1,000 migrants, mostly from the Rohingya
ethnic minority from western Burma, were towed out to sea and abandoned on
boats without engines. At least 300 remain unaccounted for. Human rights
groups allege four migrants were thrown into the sea to encourage others to
climb aboard the vessels.

The first 7.6-magnitude quake struck on land about 85 miles (135
kilometers) from Manokwari, Papua, at a depth of 22 miles (35 kilometers),
the U.S. Geological Agency said. It was followed by 10 aftershocks.

By advancing into the town by land the army has forced any remaining LTTE
politicians to withdraw altogether. But the movement’s military HQ and its
logistical bases are hidden well to the east near its coastal stronghold of
Mullaitivu. The whereabouts of the Tiger’s ruthless leader, Velupillai
Prabhakaran, has never been clear.

Vejjajiva stressed the alleged abuse of the migrants ran counter to
government policy, and that the military had confirmed to him that it
respected all migrants.

At least four people died in Papua, and the airport runway nearest the
epicenter was cracked, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told reporters.
Commercial flights to the area were canceled.

Seizing Kilinochchi was done at a fearful human cost. Comparisons with Gaza
are not amiss, down to the censorship that prevented journalists entering
the area while the fighting was underway. Several days of unopposed
airstrikes and artillery fire killed civilians as well as Tiger militants,
and forced tens of thousands of families to flee into the jungle en masse.
Hundreds of troops have died on both sides in the offensive, which has
taken months to reach its goal.

However, Thailand’s foreign ministry has launched an inquiry into the
damning allegations that the navy and the army had imprisoned and
mistreated the migrants on the southern Thai island of Koh Sai Daeng before
abandoning them to die in the Indian Ocean.

“I’ve instructed emergency steps be taken to help our brothers and to
restore power and other vital utilities,” he said without commenting on how
widespread the damage might be.

Among the dead was a 10-year-old girl whose head was crushed, said local
hospital director Hengky Tewu.

If the survivors’ tales prove correct the expulsions are a reversal of a
policy Thailand followed for years, allowing the impoverished and stateless
Muslim Rohingya to land on their way to Malaysia. Many were said to have
been turned over to human traffickers.

“We have our ambulances picking up two more,” he said. Another 19 patients
at the hospital were treated for broken bones, cuts, crushed fingers and
other injuries.

Like Gaza too, this is asymmetrical warfare and the Tigers were quick to
take the shine off the government’s victory by sending a suicide bomber
into the heart of Colombo to kill two airmen at the air force headquarters.
This has always been the Tiger tactic in extremis, and they will probably
revert to more of it in the aftermath of losing Kilinochchi.

Indian authorities on the Andaman Islands say they have rescued 446
refugees lately.

Papua police chief Maj. Gen. Bagus Ekodanto said he received reports that a
hotel and rice warehouse had been “destroyed,” but he did not know if
anyone had died. A search for possible victims was under way.

Several stories of the Mutiara Hotel in the main city Manokwari collapsed,
said Ina, a nurse at a navy hospital treating 20 quake patients. Like many
Indonesians she goes by a single name.

In one incident, the Thai navy allegedly set adrift an open-topped,
engineless barge loaded with 412 people. Those aboard had just four barrels
of water and two sacks of rice.

Meanwhile, the government hopes to move on to capturing the Elephant Pass,
the last Tiger bastion on the road to Jaffna. If it falls, this will make
it easier to re-supply the island’s second largest town, which at the
moment has to get its provisions by sea and air. The army boasts of seizing
the ultimate prize, Mullaitivu.

Electricity was cut off and people in the coastal city of 167,000 fled
their homes in the dark fearing a tsunami, said Hasim Rumatiga, a local
health official. The Indonesian Meteorology and Seismology Agency issued a
tsunami alert, but it was revoked within an hour after it was determined
the epicenter of the main quake was on land.

After they drifted at sea for 15 days, the Indian coastguard rescued 107
people near the Andaman Islands, where they are being held in camps. But up
to 300 are missing after they tried to swim ashore.

Capturing it would certainly weaken the Tigers severely. But guerrilla
movements have the capacity to go underground and reemerge, as long as they
remain popular in their own communities. The government calls the LTTE
terrorists, and they have been designated as such by the European Union.
But the EU also recognises that they speak for many, if not most, Sri
Lankan Tamils in denouncing the discrimination that Tamils suffer on the
multiethnic and multicultural island. The Tamil diaspora is unlikely to end
its funding for the Tigers any time soon.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency said tsunamis of 4 inches (10 centimeters) to
16 inches (40 centimeters) in height splashed ashore in towns along the
coast. It also warned that bigger tsunamis were possible later.

In another incident just before new year, three overcrowded fishing boats
loaded with 580 Burmese migrants were intercepted off the Thai coast, but
were towed back out to sea after their engines had been removed, according
to minority rights group the Arakan Project.

The damage in Indonesia was still be being assessed.

Sri Lanka needs a just political settlement. There is no military solution.
Yesterday’s army success is producing a triumphalist mood in Colombo, and
President Mahinda Rajapakse, who already holds the portfolios of defence,
finance and nation-building, has just made himself minister of the media as
well – an apparent sign that he wants even tighter control over the
country’s reporters. Sinhalese politicians will be in no mood for
concessions for many months to come. Sri Lanka faces a grim new year.

Two of the boats reached the shore; one with 152 people aboard landed on
the Andaman Islands while another reached Aceh in Indonesia. One boat is
missing. Another boatload of 46 migrants arrived on Thailand’s southern
coast was seized by the military along with the occupants.

“My son’s head was wounded when a cabinet fell on him,” said Ferry Dau, a
father of two who said the walls in his house were cracked. “It was very
strong and scary. The power and phones went dead after the utility lines
fell down.”

A Thai court sentenced Mr. Nicolaides, an Australian, to three years in
jail for offending the monarchy, a criminal offense in the Kingdom of
Thailand. He had pleaded guilty, earning a sentence at the lower end of the
prescribed range for lèse-majesté.

Rahmat Priyono, a supervisor at the National Earthquake Center, said there
was no immediate information on casualties or damage. “But since the
epicenters were on land, they have a potential to cause significant
damage.”

The Rohingya are stateless and mostly have no rights in Burma, where they
are at the mercy of the military junta that curtails their movement while
using them as forced labor.

Quakes centered onshore pose little tsunami threat to Indonesia itself, but
those close to the coast can still churn up large waves emanating out to
other countries like Japan.

The crime was committed in a single paragraph in “Verisimilitude,” a 2005
novel set in Thailand that is salted with social commentary. At the
sentencing, the judge read out the offending section to the court, which
was packed with foreign reporters. The judge said the author had insulted
the king and crown prince in the passage.

Relief agency World Vision Indonesia was flying in 2,000 emergency
provision kits, including canned food, blankets and basic medical supplies,
said spokeswoman Katarina Hardono.

Papua is the Indonesian portion of New Guinea island, located about 1,830
miles (2,955 kilometers) east of the capital Jakarta. It is among the
nation’s least developed areas, and a low-level insurgency has simmered in
the resource-rich region for years. It is off limits to foreign reporters.

Indonesia straddles a chain of fault lines and volcanoes known as the
Pacific “Ring of Fire” and is prone to seismic activity. A huge quake off
western Indonesia caused the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed about
230,000 people, more than half of them on the western Indonesian island of
Sumatra.

1/18/2009

Filed under: art — admin @ 7:26 am

Judith Hoffberg R.I.P.

Filed under: art — admin @ 7:15 am

Judith Hoffberg passed away peacefully on January 16, 2009

Born May 19, 1934, Judith Hoffberg was a librarian, archivist, lecturer, a curator and art writer, and editor and publisher of Umbrella, a newsletter on artist’s books, mail art, and Fluxus art. She received an M.A. in Italian Language and Literature in 1960 and an M.L.S. from the UCLA School of Library Service in June 1964.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_Hoffberg

1/15/2009

Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 4:18 pm

Corporate Tax Havens as California Cops Kill

Filed under: corporate-greed,government,police,usa — admin @ 4:16 pm

A former transit officer has been charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black man that set off violent protests, officials said.

Johannes Mehserle, 27, was arrested Tuesday in Nevada and on Wednesday appeared briefly in court, where he waived extradition to California. He was expected to be returned to California.

Witnesses said Mehserle, who is white, fired a shot into the back of 22-year-old Oscar Grant while the man was lying face down on a train platform at a station in Oakland. Grant and others had been pulled off a train after reports of fighting, as New Year’s Eve revelers were shuttling home after midnight.

Alameda Country District Attorney Tom Orloff said he would not speculate on whether the charge would end up being first-degree murder or second-degree murder.

“At this point, what I feel the evidence indicates, is an unlawful killing done by an intentional act and from the evidence we have there’s nothing that would mitigate that to something lower than a murder,” Orloff said at a news conference announcing the charge.

Mehserle’s attorney, Christopher Miller, planned a news conference later at his office in Sacramento.

The shooting, captured on cell phone cameras and widely viewed on the Internet, has inflamed long-running tensions between law enforcement authorities and many African-American residents.

Hundreds of people have taken to the streets calling for the prosecution of Mehserle, with one rally last week spiraling into violence that resulted in more than 100 arrests and damage to dozens of businesses.

Another demonstration was planned Wednesday afternoon.

Mehserle surrendered without incident Tuesday at a family friend’s house in an upscale neighborhood on the east shore of Lake Tahoe in Douglas County, Nev., law enforcement officials said.

Douglas County Undersheriff Paul Howell said he believes Mehserle went to Nevada for his own safety.

“He just wanted to get out of the Bay Area due to the magnitude of the incident,” Howell said. “He wasn’t trying to run.”

John Burris, the attorney for Grant’s family, said the news of the charge was “terrific.”

“It is consistent with the evidence I have seen. I think the family will be pleased,” Burris said.

Mehserle had refused to talk to Bay Area Regional Transit investigators before resigning last week.

“I want to know why he did it,” said BART board member Carole Ward Allen. “We’ve heard from everybody else but him. While I can’t speak for the entire BART board, we want to make this process as transparent as possible.”

State Attorney General Jerry Brown assigned a prosecutor to monitor the case, and the U.S. Department of Justice sent mediators to help avert additional violent demonstrations.

•••

Most of the 100 largest U.S. companies, including big banks that recently received federal bailouts, have foreign subsidiaries that may help the corporate parent avoid paying U.S. taxes, according to a report released by congressional auditors.

Hundreds more companies operate tax havens under strict secrecy laws in places such as Switzerland, Hong Kong, Panama and Mauritius.

Tax havens are typically jurisdictions that have low or no taxes, provide high levels of client confidentiality, and do not exchange information with foreign tax authorities.

1/14/2009

Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 5:09 am

700 from Irian Jaya repatriated

Filed under: global islands,government,intra-national,irian jaya,png — admin @ 5:04 am

Human rights group says move a publicity stunt

More than 700 West Papuans living in Papua New Guinea are choosing to return home to the Indonesian side of the border despite claims they face human rights abuses.

The Indonesian Embassy in PNG’s capital Port Moresby next month will begin flying the West Papuans to Vanimo in Sandaun Province on PNG’s north-east coast, before driving them across the border to their former homes.

Hakim Abdul from the embassy said the voluntary repatriations were happening because conditions in West Papua had steadily improved since 2001.

“The Indonesian government has made West Papua a special province, there is more autonomy than ever before. It’s very different now,” he said.

“The West Papuans living in PNG have realised conditions are better there.

“It’s good news as they now want to go home after learning about life in West Papua from friends and family, even reading the internet.”

The Indonesian government would pay for the repatriation and was working with the PNG government on the issue, he said.

But Felix Meraudje from the West Papua National Congress based in Port Moresby said it was a publicity stunt.

“It’s publicity to show Indonesia is good,” Mr Meraudje said.

“They promise them a lot and give a little pocket money.

“These people who have chosen to go back are frustrated with the lack of results from the United Nations to place us outside of PNG.

“The reality for most West Papuans is not good, most are scared and can’t be West Papuan.”

Meraudje said 10,000 to 20,000 West Papuans who fled their homes on the Indonesian side because of persecution by authorities lived throughout PNG.

Hundreds had settled in a refugee camp near the border in PNG’s Southern Highlands region while a majority lived and worked in the country’s major centres.

West Papuans fled their province following alleged human rights abuses by Indonesian authorities and security forces.

Indonesia’s hardline security measures, including arrests of activists who try to fly the outlawed Morning Star flag, have helped quell the West Papua separatist movement.

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