Archive for the ‘Pacific’ Category

by Con Karavias

For more than five years, refugees have been subjected to horror and abuse on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. With the government’s decision to permanently close the detention centre on 31 October, the horror has descended into absolute barbarity.

Water, food and power have been cut off. More than 600 refugees have been reduced to filling bins with rainwater and mixing it with sugar and salt to sustain themselves. Sympathetic members of the local PNG community have been blocked from providing them with food. A protest sign in the centre in early November read, “If the air was in Australia’s hands it would cut it on us”.

Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian refugee on Manus, talks of “a mood of death, climate of (more…)

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 by Daphna Whitmore

Manus. A Nation’s shame. Lives held in limbo. Lives lived in fear & despair. It’s fucking disgraceful. Russell Crowe in one tweet sums it up. 

Six hundred asylum seekers who have been imprisoned on Manus Island for years are refusing to go to East Lorengau transit centre on the island. They say it is not safe as locals have threatened and attacked them. Detention on Nauru is the other hell-hole option the men are refusing. Behrouz Boochani,  a journalist and Kurdish refugee from Iran, has been speaking out from Manus Island where he has been held since August 2014.  “We will never move to another prison. We will never settle for anything less than freedom. Only freedom.”

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Manus Island asylum seekers protesting

Locking up asylum seekers in remote and inhumane detention centres has been a long-standing bipartisan policy of Liberal and Labor governments in Australia. (more…)

The article below appeared in one of the print predecessors to this blog.  It is transcribed from revolution #21, August-October 2003.

by Will Shannon

Economically, Pacific peoples have always faced considerable hardship in New Zealand.  Used as a source of cheap labour during the post-war boom they initially filled the hardest jobs for little reward.  These jobs were then often the first to go once the economy began to contract in the late 1960s.

This process intensified with the economic restructuring carried out by Labour in the late 1980s, which cut a swathe through the freezing works, car plants and other areas of industry with high concentrations of Pacific workers.  This meant that Pacific Islanders came to be over-represented among not only low-income earners in New Zealand, but the unemployed as well.

According to a newly-released report, however, since the early 1990s when the picture was undeniably disturbing, “there have been (more…)

As the New Zealand ‘mission’ in the Solomons is ending, the NZ government is patting itself on the back for its achievements.  NZ, it suggests, is a benign force in the Pacific and the intervention is presented as essentially humanitarian – saving lives and helping the people of the Solomons nation-build.  The article below first appeared in the August-October 2003 of revolution magazine, one of the predecessors of this site; it explains the real reasons for NZ intervention.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff and NZ soldiers in Honiara July 31, 2003. Another NZ imperialist intervention courtesy of the Labour Party. Pic: REUTERS/Stringer DG/FA

by Will Shannon

As we go to press, a substantial Australian-New Zealand force is being prepared for intervention in the Solomon Islands.  The NZ government will contribute up to 40 police and 200 troops, while Canberra is mobilising 1200 troops and 300 police.

Both governments are presenting this as a humanitarian-style intervention.  Former Solomons prime minister Manasseh Sogavare, however, has described the planned intervention as a move to recolonise and control the nation (DominionPost, July 10).  There is also anger at Australia’s proposal to put expatriates into government management positions as part of the intervention.

What is behind the planned intervention? (more…)

US naval carrier taking part in manoeuvres off coast of Korea; Photo by JO JUNG-HO / Yonhap via AP)

by Nizar Visram 

IN its latest move early June 2017, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted a resolution drafted by the United States to expand the scope of sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) over its latest missile tests.

Prior to this the UNSC slapped North Korea with six rounds of sanctions, but Washington and its allies have been  pushing for more powerful and crippling sanctions in an attempt to halt the increasing wave of missile tests by Pyongyang.

Meanwhile, President Trump said “all options are on the table” (implying military solution), while his Vice President Pence declared the “end of strategic patience.” Pence added:

“The patience of the United States in this region has run out. . . The world has witnessed the strength and resolve of the US in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan.

Pence was alluding to the (more…)

by Daphna Whitmore

The internet is a vast ocean littered with so much stuff it is possible to paddle around for many years and miss out on some real treasures. A newly discovered treat for me is Ross Himona’s blog Te Putatara. Thank you Mark Eden, for highlighting the essay The Maori Worldview and Maori Policy, in the comments section of a Redline article. Himona’s essay on the Maori Worldview is one of the most rational discussions on the subject I’ve come across.

Himona starts by asking what is the Maori worldview? To explore that question he lays out the facts of Maori in today’s world.

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Maori youth on a reality TV show The Outsiders

He contends what is commonly portrayed as the Maori worldview has been constructed by modern elites and does not represent most Maori. The elites have “cleaved ‘traditional’ tikanga values incorporating them into their various fields of endeavor, and on speaking Te Reo Maori”.

Those elites are a minority, so how can they speak for most Maori? Most Maori are not sitting on corporate iwi boards, or in high paid government department jobs. While it is not news that most Maori are poor – or only just keeping their heads above water –  Himona quantifies it with plenty of numbers.

What he describes is contemporary society. He is not describing Maori of a hundred years ago, but of the 21st century. Most Maori are in urban areas, all speak English, around 22 percent can speak conversational Maori, 98 percent identify as Christian, more than half identify as other ethnicities as well as Maori. Most live in the suburbs, like most pakeha do. Many live in Australia – a substantial 17.6 percent, and they treat New Zealand and Australia as virtually one country. (more…)

51Gblu33XmL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Donny Gluckstein (ed), Fighting on all Fronts: popular resistance in the Second World War, London, Bookmarks, 2015; reviewed by Philip Ferguson

This is a fascinating book.  Its ten contributors provide eleven chapters – two are by Gluckstein – on people’s resistance to dictatorship in Europe and Asia/Pacific during World War 2 and struggles within two capitalist democracies (Australia and Ireland, the latter not being formally involved in the second great imperialist conflagration).

The struggles range from Jewish resistance to the Nazis and the Holocaust in Eastern Europe, especially Poland, to the Slovak national uprising of 1944 to resistance to French rule in Algeria to Burmese resistance to both British and Japanese imperialism to the Huk rebellion in the Philippines.  While the countries covered exclude key imperialist players, and sometimes the choice of places to cover seemed a little strange, hopefully there will be a second volume to cover struggles in the United States, Britain and Germany – especially since Gluckstein is an expert of Nazi Germany and has already written a fine book about the rise of the Nazis and the course of their regime.

Lesser-known

One advantage, however, of covering the places that are covered is that these are generally the least-known.  I certainly found that most of the chapters added considerably to my knowledge of resistance during what several generations of us used to call “the war”.  Perhaps the most fascinating for me was Janey Stone’s impressive account of struggles by East European Jews, and non-Jewish supporters, against repression and annihilation.  The ‘mainstream’ impression is that Jews went meekly to the slaughter but Janey, (more…)