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Chinese Tech Executive Appears in Canadian Court

A top Chinese technology executive facing charges in the United States related to business dealings with Iran made a court appearance Friday in Canada, where her arrest this week rocked financial markets around the globe. 

In a packed courtroom in Vancouver, a Canadian prosecutor argued that Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of tech giant Huawei, should be denied bail pending possible extradition to the United States because she was a flight risk. She has spent most of the past week at a women’s detention facility in a suburb of Vancouver. 

The prosecutor disclosed that Meng was wanted by the United States for allegedly deceiving financial institutions about the relationship between Huawei and another tech company, SkyCom, based in Hong Kong, that is alleged to have sold U.S.-manufactured technology to Iran, in violation of U.S. trade sanctions. 

The arrest of Meng in Vancouver, at the request of the United States, surprised financial markets after Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping agreed to a trade truce last weekend in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

Stocks plummeted Thursday after news came out of Meng’s arrest, which followed months of already shaky markets affected by the U.S.-China trade war. 

Trump sounded a note of optimism on Friday about the trade talks with China, tweeting that “China talks are going very well!” 

The U.S. and Canadian governments have so far said little about the Meng case. But China has demanded her release, saying she violated no laws in Canada or the United States.  

Meng is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer in China’s People’s Liberation Army. Chinese state media have argued that the United States is abusing the law to hurt the company’s international reputation. 

However, concerns about Huawei have been growing for some time. Since 2012, the U.S. government has raised alarm about suspicions that Huawei’s hardware may have a technical backdoor that could be used by the Chinese government to gather intelligence. 

Huawei has denied that its products pose any security risk and says it is a private company.  

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Seoul Creates a New Cycle of Waste

In South Korea’s capital of Seoul, there’s a waste problem. In April, the metropolitan area had an overabundance of plastic and vinyl waste because companies charged with recycling those materials refused to collect them because of low returns.

As a result, the untreated recycled goods were piled throughout Seoul’s residential areas. Discussions and consultations were held between officials and the companies, and after roughly two weeks the refuse was removed. But longer term, the problem remains unsolved, despite some innovative efforts to deal with the waste.

Officials have turned to “upcycling” to resolve the situation and address future concerns.

Limits to recycling

The Seoul Upcycling Plaza (SUP), a five-story building in Seongdong-gu, is home for the process of collecting, sorting, breaking down products into reusable raw materials and selling “upcycled goods.” There are 35 upcycling social enterprises that have been chosen after a competition to begin this process.

“There is a certain limit in recycling; break, grind the material and recycle it,” said SUP director Yoon Dayyoung. “It is necessary to upcycle that creates new value to the disposal so people can take benefits.”

Seoul plans to recycle more than 70 percent of its plastics by 2030. To this end, the official said, “We will supply dismantled raw materials that can be used for producing upcycle goods to the citizens via Material Bank. People can find more than 400 [types] of materials and be able to purchase it for their purpose.”

New business opportunities

The majority of companies moving into the upcycling business are craft studios that produce specialty items with the collected materials. These include origami kits made from used milk packs, plates derived from flattened wine bottles and accessories using discarded banners. Visitors can buy products or, if they choose, participate in producing the items.

An onsite service center also repairs broken electronic devices with components taken from other machines that are no longer functional, thus extending the life of original materials and reducing waste. Onlookers in this area will see not only local brands, but also well-known imports.

Is it enough?

Despite the efforts of those in the upcycle sector, the concept does not yet appear to have enough momentum to be sustainable. Many of the studios and suppliers produce the upcycled products manually and don’t have enough manpower for production on a large scale. In addition, some people are disappointed by the fact that upcycled products are not as inexpensive as initially hoped.

But at Touch4Good, which upcycles banners and billboards into fashionable handbags and accessories, Park Mi-hyeon says it’s important to think about the process properly. She says that upcycling is more akin to creating craft or custom goods rather than mass producing items.

Park has been running various upcycling projects since 2008 and operates the material research institute for upcycling. According to Park, most upcycling material has to be manually sorted, and the procedure to refurbish it is also done by hand.

“If you consider upcycling simply as a commodity, you cannot fully appreciate its value. This process enhances the value of the goods,” Park said.

She asserts there is a great deal of potential in the upcycling market in South Korea and points to the more than 200 companies operating in the sector.

​Stop the waste

However, environmental experts suggest it is more significant to reduce the amount of plastic being used than to develop upcycling. Even the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency has a web page devoted to reducing, reusing, and recycling waste.

In Seoul, to encourage reducing waste, Starbucks, the American coffee chain, has eliminated the use of plastic straws and replaced them with paper alternatives. Other restaurants have also done away with plastic straws and have encouraged patrons to bring in their own or are using metal or bamboo straws instead.

In terms of reducing waste, other eateries have banned plastic straws and are encouraging the use of personal mugs instead of disposables. Single-use plastic bags are also banned in supermarkets.

“Korea has too many people for its limited land space; hence disposal, incineration, and landfill, those measures cannot be the alternative option in Korea,” said Hong Su-yeol, the head of Resource Recycling Consulting. “Moreover, even in the case of upcycling, it still less than perfect as the processing capability is limited.”

Hong added, “It is hard to raise the rate of recycling more than 90 percent in near future. For the pending issues, we need to introduce some means like usage ban and regulation.”

Seoul also plans to regulate the use of disposable products in the public sector from 2020 to cut the consumption of disposable products.

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If Brunei Takes China’s Energy Deal, Neighbors May Follow

Brunei, an oil-rich nation in Southeast Asia, watched with near horror as world energy prices fell from 2014 to 2016. Reserves were running out. Its lifeblood of 80 years at stake, the tiny, wealthy country is looking for other sources of prosperity.

China is offering to be a source, and it’s China that stands to prosper politically.

Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to support joint exploration with Brunei for oil and gas, likely in a rectangular block of the South China Sea extending from the Bruneian coastline on the island of Borneo. That’s Brunei’s exclusive economic zone, but China says some of it falls under its flag.

A deal would help Beijing by showing skeptics in Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam that ties with China pay off despite sovereignty disputes like who should rule Brunei’s exclusive economic zone.

“China’s saying, ‘We’re promoting joint development, we’re willing to cooperate, it’s win-win for everybody,’” said Carl Thayer, professor emeritus with the University of New South Wales in Australia.

Without a better name around Southeast Asia, China risks more pressure from an alliance including Australia, India, Japan and the United States. Those countries, more militarily powerful as a unit than China, want Beijing to quit expanding control in the disputed sea over objections from smaller Asian governments whose economic zones overlap Chinese claims.

​Brunei as a model

China has invested about $4.1 billion in Brunei. There’s an energy equipment service contract, to start, and Chinese companies built a 2,680-meter-long sea bridge. One offered $79 million worth of bonds earlier this year to fund a petrochemical plant. A $3.4 billion oil refinery is in the planning stages.

“Any deal that China has with ASEAN would be a good role model. It’s like the onion skin being peeled off one by one and it makes (a) good business case for China that they are interested in the commercial part of it,” said Eduardo Araral, associate professor at the National University of Singapore’s public policy school. ASEAN refers to the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

“For Brunei the good thing is they don’t have to fend off China,” he said.

Energy makes up some 60 percent of the Bruneian GDP. The economy shrank 2.5 percent in 2016 before rising 1.3 percent last year along with world energy prices, but much of the undersea fuel near Brunei’s coasts is tapped out.

Brunei keeps quiet about the sovereignty problem with China even as fellow Southeast Asian states Vietnam and Malaysia, under new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, speak out. China takes Brunei’s silence as goodwill and a vote for more ties with China’s $12 trillion economy, the world’s second largest.

In late November the Chinese president met Brunei’s Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah in the Southeast Asian leader’s capital Bandar Seri Begawan. The leaders agreed to “support relevant enterprises of the two countries to cooperate in the areas of maritime oil and gas resources,” China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported Nov. 20.

Brunei has just 430,000 people but sits on 1.5 billion barrels of crude oil reserves plus 15 trillion cubic feet of natural gas beneath the seabed, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The Philippines may be next for a China deal. In November Manila and Beijing signed a memorandum of understanding that establishes a process to do joint offshore oil and gas exploration. Malaysia leads in the South China Sea with access to reserves of 5 billion barrels of crude oil and 80 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Search for equity

Whether other countries trust China as an energy exploration partner depends on how a Brunei deal takes shape. It should be done under the laws of both sides and international agreements, South China Sea analysts say.

“You have to find out under whose law, under whose jurisdiction this kind of joint exploration (takes place),” said Termsak Chalermpalanupap, a fellow with the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. “In the past, it was always under Chinese law, under Chinese jurisdiction, which implied that everything in the South China Sea belongs to China. That’s the main objection.”

A deal with Brunei consistent with a China-ASEAN maritime code of conduct would help Beijing’s cause, said Carl Baker, director of programs with the think tank Pacific Forum CSIS in Honolulu. The code, still being negotiated, would spell out how to avoid mishaps despite sovereignty issues. China might also consider deferring its claims, he said.

China, backed by Asia’s strongest armed forces, has upset the other five maritime claimants by building up small islets for military use and passing coast guard ships through disputed tracts.

“If China could convince Brunei to undertake joint exploration in a disputed area, it would certainly help set a precedent for others,” Baker said.

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New Zealand China Scholar ‘Targeted’ by Beijing

An academic who has been exposing the back-door methods of the Chinese seeking to influence New Zealand politics as well as the country’s media and universities says she is being targeted and harassed by Beijing.

Professor Anne-Marie Brady has asked for government protection after suffering what she describes as a yearlong campaign of intimidation by Beijing, saying she fears for her security and the safety of her family.

And more than 150 China experts from universities and think tanks around the world are supporting her appeal for protection, urging New Zealand’s government to assign a security detail to Brady, an expert in Chinese politics at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch.

“Brady has become the target of a series of incidents which, taken together with attacks from party-directed media, are consistent with an intimidation campaign,” the experts say. “New Zealand authorities have been less than forthcoming in their support for a prominent scholar targeted by a foreign power, at times even adopting a dismissive posture — an attitude appreciated by PRC [China’s] state media.”

Ugly tactics

Last February, Brady’s home and university office were broken into, and laptops and a thumb drive containing her research were stolen. Last month, the tires on her car were tampered with and a mechanic warned her if she had stopped at high-speed, the car would have spun out of control.

Brady says she was targeted after the publication of her “Magic Weapons” study detailing Beijing’s influence on public life in New Zealand. She told an Australian parliamentary committee earlier this year that China was seeking to infiltrate New Zealand party politics, media and education in a bid to shape public opinion, warning both Australia and New Zealand appear to have been singled out as “test zones” for China’s “covert, corrupting and coercive activities.”

New Zealand’s police and intelligence service are investigating the break-ins and car tampering. Brady says she has made multiple requests for protection. Police officials say they have some “positive lines of inquiry,” and Interpol is now involved but declined to comment further.

Attempts to influence

In her study, Brady says China has an integrated global strategy “to guide, buy or coerce political influence abroad … on a larger scale than that being carried out by any other nation” with efforts underway to infiltrate political and foreign affairs circles as well to utilize the Chinese diaspora in order to “turn them into propaganda bases for Beijing.” Chinese populations can sometimes be used as a cover for intelligence activities, she warned.

“China’s foreign influence activities have the potential to undermine the sovereignty and integrity of the political system of targeted states,” she wrote. She says Chinese President Xi Jinping “has led a massive expansion of efforts to shape foreign public opinion in order to influence the decision-making of foreign governments and societies.”

The title of her study, “Magic Weapons,” is a reference to the description Xi Jinping gave for using individuals and organizations outside China to promote the interests of the Communist Party.

Shortly before Brady’s study, Yang Jian, a New Zealand member of parliament born in China, was accused of having links to Chinese intelligence and failing to reveal a decade he spent teaching at China’s top linguistics academy for military intelligence officers.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said she “supports and defends the legal right to academic freedom,” but has declined to comment further on Brady’s claims of a harassment campaign before police have concluded their investigation.

China responds

The Chinese embassy in New Zealand says Beijing has not been targeting Brady. And it says Beijing isn’t involved in any hostile acts against the country.

“Speculations on China’s role in New Zealand politics are totally groundless,” it said in a statement.

But academics, rights activists and journalists have maintained a drumbeat of support for Brady. In their open letter, the China experts from around the world say under Xi Jinping’s rule domestic repression has increased, “as illustrated by the fate of hundreds of human rights lawyers and activists rounded up.” They say China scholars overseas are also being targeted.

“Another form of this escalation are the unprecedented attacks on foreign scholars and researchers of contemporary China, be it in the form of Cultural Revolution-style in-class harassment for their views and opinions, denial of visas, threatened or actual libel suits or, in some cases, detentions during research visits in mainland China,” it says.

China’s expanding influence has prompted the alarm of several Western governments and their spy agencies. In June, Australia’s parliament approved new national security legislation, following disclosures of Beijing-linked political donations. New Zealand has also been rocked by a political donations scandal.

In October, the Trump administration sharpened its criticism of Chinese interference in the United States, issuing warnings about Chinese influence in American higher education.

“Beijing provides generous funding to universities, think tanks and scholars, with the understanding that they will avoid ideas that the Communist Party finds dangerous or offensive,” U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said in a speech at the Hudson Institute in Washington.

“China experts in particular know that their visas will be delayed or denied if their research contradicts Beijing’s talking points,” he said. The Chinese government has denied the accusations.

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China Demands Canada Release Huawei Executive

China on Thursday demanded Canada release a Huawei Technologies executive who was arrested in a case that adds to technology tensions with Washington and threatens to complicate trade talks.

Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, faces possible extradition to the United States, according to Canadian authorities. The Globe and Mail newspaper, citing law enforcement sources, said she is suspected of trying to evade U.S. trade curbs on Iran.

The timing is awkward following the announcement of a U.S.-Chinese cease-fire in a tariff war over Beijing’s technology policy. Meng was detained in Vancouver on Saturday, the day Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping met in Argentina and announced their deal.

Stock markets tumbled on the news, fearing renewed U.S.-Chinese tensions that threaten global economic growth. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 2.5 percent and the DAX in Germany sank 1.8 percent.

A Chinese government statement said Meng broke no U.S. or Canadian laws and demanded Canada “immediately correct the mistake” and release her.

Beijing asked Washington and Ottawa to explain the reason for Meng’s arrest, said a foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang. He said arresting her without that violated her human rights.

But the Ministry of Commerce signaled Beijing wants to avoid disrupting progress toward settling a dispute with Washington over technology policy that has led them to raise tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s goods.

China is confident they can reach a trade deal during the 90 days that Trump agreed to suspend U.S. tariff hikes, said a ministry spokesman, Gao Feng.

Huawei Technologies Ltd., the biggest global supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies, has been the target of deepening U.S. security concerns. Under Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama, Washington has pressured European countries and other allies to limit use of its technology.

The United States sees Huawei and smaller Chinese tech suppliers as possible fronts for spying and as commercial competitors. The Trump administration says they benefit from improper subsidies and market barriers.

Trump’s tariff hikes on Chinese imports stemmed from complaints Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology. But American officials also worry more broadly that Chinese plans for state-led creation of Chinese champions in robotics, artificial intelligence and other fields might erode U.S. industrial leadership.

“The United States is stepping up containment of China in all respects,” said Zhu Feng, an international relations expert at Nanjing University. He said targeting Huawei, one of its most successful companies, “will trigger anti-U.S. sentiment.”

“The incident could turn out to be a breaking point,” Zhu said.

Last month, New Zealand blocked a mobile phone company from using Huawei equipment, saying it posed a “significant network security risk.” The company was banned in August from working on Australia’s fifth-generation network.

On Wednesday, British phone carrier BT said it was removing Huawei equipment from the core of its mobile phone networks. It said Huawei still is a supplier of other equipment and a “valued innovation partner.”

The Wall Street Journal reported this year U.S. authorities are investigating whether Huawei violated sanctions on Iran. The Chinese government appealed to Washington to avoid any steps that might damage business confidence.

Huawei’s biggest Chinese rival, ZTE Corp., was nearly driven out of business this year when Washington barred it from buying U.S. technology over exports to North Korea and Iran. Trump restored access after ZTE agreed to pay a $1 billion fine, replace its executive team and embed a U.S.-chosen compliance team in the company.

Huawei is regarded as far stronger commercially than ZTE. Based in Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, Huawei has the biggest research and development budget of any Chinese company and a vast portfolio of patents, making it less dependent on American suppliers.

Its growing smartphone brand is among the top three global suppliers behind Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc. by number of handsets sold.

Meng was changing flights in Canada when she was detained “on behalf of the United States of America” to face unspecified charges in New York, according to a Huawei statement.

“The company has been provided very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng,” the statement said.

A U.S. Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.

Huawei said it complies with all laws and rules where it operates, including export controls and sanctions of the United Nations, the United States and European Union.

Meng’s arrest also threatened to inflame disagreements over Iran and Trump’s decision to break with other governments and re-impose sanctions over the country’s nuclear development.

Geng, the foreign ministry spokesman, said China objects to unilateral sanctions outside the United Nations. China has said it will continue to do business with Iran despite the possible threat of U.S. penalties.

Meng is a prominent member of China’s business world as deputy chairman of Huawei’s board and the daughter of its founder Ren Zhengfei, a former Chinese military engineer.

Despite that, her arrest is unlikely to derail trade talks, said Willy Lam, a politics specialist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

“I think too much is at stake for Xi Jinping. He desperately wants a settlement,” said Lam.

Longer term, however, the case will reinforce official Chinese urgency about developing domestic technology suppliers to reduce reliance on the United States, said Lam.

Trump has “pulled out all the stops” to hamper Chinese ambitions to challenge the United States as a technology leader, Lam said. That includes imposing limits on visas for Chinese students to study science and technology.

“If the Chinese need further convincing, this case would show them beyond doubt Trump’s commitment,” said Lam.

David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said U.S. and Canadian business executives could face reprisals in China.

“That’s something we should be watching out for. It’s a possibility. China plays rough,” Mulroney said. “It’s a prominent member of their society and it’s a company that really embodies China’s quest for global recognition as a technology power.”

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Australian Court Tosses Catholic Cleric’s Abuse Conviction

An Australian court Thursday overturned the conviction of a former archbishop who had been the world’s most senior Catholic cleric held guilty of concealing child sex abuse, saying prosecutors failed to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.

Judge Roy Ellis ruled in favor of an appeal by Philip Wilson, the former archbishop of Adelaide and a former president of the Catholic Church’s top body in Australia, against his conviction in May, court documents show.

“The appeal is upheld,” read a summary of the decision emailed to Reuters by a court spokeswoman. “The conviction and the orders of the local court are quashed.”

Ellis delivered the decision at Newcastle District Court in New South Wales, freeing Wilson, 68, from detention for a year at his sister’s home, as an alternative to prison, after his conviction for failing to disclose to police abuse by a priest.

The judge held that prosecutors failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Wilson had been told of the accusations, and that if he had been told, that he was sufficiently convinced of guilt, but failed to act.

At trial, Wilson had said he could not remember the accusations being raised with him in 1976.

“I’m not up for talking,” Peter Creighton, an altar boy at the time of the alleged abuse, who said he had raised the issue with Wilson, told reporters outside the court, as he held back tears.

The Adelaide archdiocese said it welcomed the conclusion of a process that had been long and painful for all concerned.

“We now need to consider the ramifications of this outcome,” its administrator delegate, Father Philip Marshall, said in a statement that gave no further details, but added the survivors of child sexual abuse “are in our thoughts and prayers.”

Wilson had been accused of covering up the abuse, by Father James Fletcher, after being told about it in 1976 by two victims, one of them an altar boy who allegedly told him in the confessional.

Lawyers for Wilson had maintained he did not know Fletcher had abused a boy. Fletcher was found guilty in 2004 of nine counts of child sexual abuse and died in jail in 2006, following a stroke.

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Pressure Increases on US to Change Myanmar Policy

Two major groups have determined that the mass killing of ethnic Rohingyas by Myanmar’s military amounts to genocide. Their assessment increases the pressure on the United States to change its official designation for the crimes against the Rohingya Muslim minority by the majority Buddhist government in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. VOA’s Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine

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Indonesian Public and Human Rights Groups Decry West Papuan Arrests

Indonesian human rights groups decried the arrests made of West Papuan students and pro-independence activists after they staged peaceful rallies across Indonesian cities on Saturday. 

Benny Wenda, chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), demanded accountability from the Indonesian law enforcers, writing, “in the strongest possible terms, the ULMWP condemns the Indonesian government for the arrest and brutal treatment of over 500 West Papuan people and Indonesians in solidarity, who were targeted on 1st December simply for peaceful commemorating West Papua National Day.”

Amnesty International Criticism

“These arbitrary arrests add to the long list of acts of harassment, intimidation and arrests faced by Papuans this year, not to mention the attacks they faced from hostile groups at yesterday’s rallies,” Amnesty International’s Usman Hamid said in a statement.

The most number of arrests — more than 200 — took place in the city of Surabaya, East Java, where demonstrators — from organizations such as the Alliance of Papuan Students (AMP) — staged a peaceful rally commemorating West Papua’s National Day. On December 1, 1961, the morning star flag — a symbol for its independence — was first raised under Dutch administrative rule. 

December 1 has since been regarded as the day West Papua carved out its independence. In 1963, West Papua was formally absorbed into Indonesia; with the trails blazed by the UN and the West, Indonesia held a contentious referendum in 1969 in which only over a thousand were selected to agree, through bribery and threats, to the formal absorption.

Charges of Treason

The rally on Saturday, as human rights lawyer and the activists’ legal council Veronica Koman told VOA, was rife with accusations of treason and separatism of the West Papuans, lobbed by more than a dozen nationalist groups. “Because of the nature of our criminal code on treason is pretty broad, it’s used to persecute these students. During the Dutch rule, there would have to be an attack in order for an act to be considered treasonous. Now it’s not,” she said.

Anindya Shabrina, a student and activist with National Students Front (FMN) who was there to document the Surabaya rally, said that she saw the nationalist groups pelt rocks, glass shards and bamboo sticks at the dormitory where the rally took place. According to her, 16 people were injured, three of them required stitching for their injuries. 

“The [state apparatus] always does this in the name of the Surabaya people, even though the working class over here perhaps doesn’t really care that much about this stuff. Sentiments against dark-skinned people exist, I’m sure, but they don’t themselves commit any acts of discrimination. They accept them,” she told VOA.

It was also reported that two people involved in the Surabaya rally were missing: university students Fachri Syahrazad and Arifin. They have since returned home. On the day of the rally, they were taken to the police crime investigation unit building to be interrogated. “I wasn’t given a chance to contact my family or a lawyer,” Fachri told VOA, adding that he was there to document the rally and that his phone and wallet were confiscated by officers. “The next day, I woke up at 7 only to be grilled again and the official report, along with further questioning, was made at 12. It was very intimidating.” Veronica said that it should have been illegal to deny someone who has just been arrested a chance to contact any form of legal council.

Surabaya police chief Rudi Kurniawan told VOA that no arrests have been made. “That was an effort at protection and repatriation because an order was disturbed,” he said.

Widespread Protests

The arrests were not the first for West Papuan activists or students. 

Crackdowns on protests also took place in the special province of Yogyakarta in 2016. Security was also cited as the reason. The crackdown took place again the following year, when President Joko Widodo made a visit to Yogyakarta.

The provinces of Papua and West Papua have been plagued by intimidation and violence, with over 500,000 Papuans killed since the 1960s. It is also Indonesia’s poorest province, with 28 percent of its people living below the poverty line. A military presence, complicated by its involvement with Freeport McMoran (Papua houses the lucrative Grasberg gold mine), has also been cited as one of the sources of violence in the region. In 2014, four people of the Paniai regency were shot by security forces. In 2017 shootings between the Free Papua Movement and security forces were reported.

Febriana Firdaus, an investigative journalist who has written extensively on West Papua, said that what’s caused the rift is Indonesia’s treatment of Papuans. “They’re not transparent about what happened between Indonesia and Papua. Papuans feel suspicious that their freedom of expression is silenced. Indonesia never opens up to Papua, especially with regards to the [The Act of Free Choice] referendum, in which people were captured and killed,” she said.

“There’s no democracy for Papuan students to express their political aspirations as prescribed by Indonesia’s constitution,” said Dorlince Iyowau, spokesperson for the “Alliance of Papuan Students.” “There’s no good future for West Papuans because the only good future for West Papuans is independence from Indonesia’s colonialism.”