Indonesia executes six drug convicts, five of them foreigners

Indonesia executes six drug convicts, five of them foreigners
Widodo has pledged to bring reform to Indonesia

Ban appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions

Ban appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has pleaded to Indonesia to stop the execution of prisoners on death row for drug crimes. AFP PHOTO

Pope: 'Death penalty represents failure' – no 'humane' way to kill a person

Pope: 'Death penalty represents failure' – no 'humane' way to kill a person
The pope wrote that the principle of legitimate personal defense isn’t adequate justification to execute someone. Photograph: Zuma/Rex

Obama becomes first president to visit US prison (US Justice Systems / Human Rights)

Obama becomes first president to visit US prison   (US Justice Systems / Human Rights)
US President Barack Obama speaks as he tours the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, July 16, 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

US Death Penalty (Justice Systems / Human Rights)

US Death Penalty (Justice Systems / Human Rights)
Woman who spent 23 years on US death row cleared (Photo: dpa)


"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Papua New Guinea: another world, by Peter Hughes, 3:42PM GMT 09 Feb 2010

Papua New Guinea has in many respects barely advanced from its primitive past, and though that is changing fast Peter Hughes discovered a way of life rarely encountered by even the most seasoned of travellers.

Whichever way he travelled, Peter Hughes encountered new and thrilling sights Photo: CORBIS

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There are travellers and there are tourists. In Papua New Guinea I was both: traveller one week, roughing it with local guides; tourist the next, on a luxurious expedition cruise. As a traveller I arrived unannounced, if not unexpected, because the chiefs upcountry had approved visits from outsiders. As a tourist I and my fellow passengers were not only expected and announced, but also feted.

In the course of both weeks I visited a succession of villages just coming to terms with the 21st century, never mind being geared for international tourism. The question is, which approach revealed the most about PNG?

But there was a question before that: why would anyone want to go in the first place? In Australia the idea is treated with a mixture of pity and bewilderment. I knew what I was looking for: PNG is the world as it was, a chance to travel as our fathers travelled, to go, not just off the beaten track, but to the edges of the beaten map. Fewer than 5,000 British go there a year, so I knew my journey would be rare; I knew PNG would be different to anywhere I had been before. What I hadn't expected was to have some of the most extraordinary experiences in 40 years of travelling.

PNG is remote, though the capital, Port Moresby, is only an hour and a half's flight from Queensland across the Torres Strait. In the hinterland it is still primitive, but changing fast. Satellite dishes are being installed in villages of thatched huts; men who hunt with spears have mobile phones. Land ownership and marriage is still dictated by a system of clans. A tribal art dealer told me that many of the wooden shields he buys bear the nicks of recent battles. Only two generations ago there were cannibals. For traveller and tourist alike, PNG is exhilarating.

New Guinea – after Greenland the second largest island in the world – is in Oceania, where the Coral Sea meets the South Pacific. Half of it belongs to Indonesia; the eastern half is PNG. Before the First World War PNG was divided between Britain and Germany. After it, until independence in 1975, the country was administered by Australia.

I flew to Wewak – provincial capital and pleasant seaside town – via Port Moresby airport's winningly named Domestic Paradise Lounge on my way to the Sepik river. My first sight of the Sepik was from the air. It looped across the land in festive bows. Around it were strewn dozens of oxbow lakes, bends the river has discarded, glinting in silvery puddles. Not for the last time it made me think of the wetlands in Botswana's Okavango Delta.

The Wewak Inn, just over three years old and all immaculate whitewash, air conditioning and broad verandas, overlooks the Bismarck Sea. It is essentially a business hotel but provides unexpected comfort for a few travel romantics on the side. I am not sure in which category to place the Japanese on 'memorial tours'. Accompanied by Shinto priests, their quest is to find the makeshift graves of compatriots who fell in the Second World War. In Wewak they call them bone hunters. When remains are found they are ceremonially cremated and the ashes taken back to Japan.

The next morning I was driven to the river. It took four hours on cratered roads through dense bush and then across open country lumpy with hummocks of coarse grass. Kookaburras preened in the trees; brahminy kites soared. There were sights that would become familiar all over PNG. A roadside market, produce spread on the ground, was set up in the shade of a long, communal, thatched stall. Men and women, their teeth rotted and lips and gums scarlet from chewing lime and betel, sold little piles of bananas, taro and maize and long twists of tobacco like sallow dreadlocks.

In the villages with schools, overhead power cables were festooned with pairs of trainers. They lined the wires along with a profusion of migrating birds. Either from spite, or because the shoes are worn out, children tie the laces together and sling them over the electricity lines. In a country where little is thrown away, the commonest form of litter dangles 30ft off the ground.

Pagwi is an unprepossessing town where road and river meet. There I boarded the canoe that would be my transport for the next three days; 45ft long and 3ft wide, with deep sides 2in thick, it was gouged from the trunk of a single tree. It would have taken two men more than six months to make. In the stern was a 40hp Japanese outboard. You could tell it was a tourist boat because George, the captain, had provided wicker chairs. Locals sit in the bottom.

Johannes, my guide, was the third man in our boat. A small man in his early thirties, he had a high forehead, a scrub of beard and a betel-stained grin. What he lacked in formal training, he made up for in enthusiasm. He had a hoard of knowledge about village life and traditions, but was not so hot on the difference between an egret and a heron. Not that he was ever unforthcoming.

'What's that tree called, Johannes?'

'Tree from the lake. That tree is a special tree.'

'What is that bird eating?'

'Special bark.'

Baggy clouds, the size of small countries, ringed the horizon. Around us stretched a great green panorama of river and reed. Engine buzzing, we skimmed across water as polished and flat as marble. Villages that can be reached only by boat were betrayed by smears of smoke, their houses withdrawn in the bush. They live by fishing, and on vegetables grown in fields they call 'gardens', and livestock that in the wet season survives on rafts.

The Sepik slithered between cliffs of vegetation, reeds on one side, forest on the other. We saw herons, parrots, kites, cormorants and kingfishers; maybe there were crocodiles, though they retreat to the swamps when the river is high. And ducks.

'Where do ducks go in the dry season, Johannes?'

'Special place.'

After two hours, with the dark bulk of the Hun stein Mountains ahead, we came to Ambunti.Ambunti Lodge, the town's only hotel, is right on the river bank. Single-storey, prefabricated, it could be an old country primary school. Like many of the bigger buildings in PNG villages, it is corralled behind a chain-link fence and padlocked gate. Built in 1978, it bore no evidence of anything having been spent on it since. There were holes in the lino, torn curtains and missing lightbulbs.

Power came from a generator that ran for three hours each night and ran out of fuel the day I left. My food, and the gas ring to cook it, arrived with me in the canoe. But the eight bedrooms had air-conditioning, mosquito nets and showers en suite – permanently cold despite the confidence of taps marked 'Hot'. In PNG you respect what they have, not judge them for what they lack.

The advance of the tourist dollar has stopped some way short of Ambunti. Or the middle Sepik, come to that. Ambunti's 'lean-down' market – so-called because you have to lean down to see it – is spread on the earth in the shade of trees. It not only trades in the commonplace, such as veg e tables, fruit, home-baked buns, sago powder and cakes of violet-coloured Was Was soap, but there are also river fish, still twitching, smoked pork, and small, gasping, freshwater turtles. A woman rolled long strings of bark on her thigh that would be used to weave bilum bags.

The market also sold money. Not the notes and coins of kina, but shell money, still used for 'bride money', or dowries. The amount is usually negotiated with the bridegroom by the bride's brothers who, it is fair to say, are just as likely to accept cash, pigs or beer. Here, though, the shells – small cowries – were woven into mats worth 20 and 40 kina, roughly £5 and £10. Kina is a word for shell. 'Money is nothing,' Johannes said loftily. 'You can find it anywhere. This is special. Very valuable.'

The Sepik is on one of the farthest-flung frontiers of travel, never mind tourism. In my days on the river I met one backpacker. The only other white people I saw were missionaries, nearly all American. Every village of any size had at least one missionary station, easy to spot among the stilt houses of bamboo and thatch, with their new concrete buildings, septic tanks and satellite dishes. They have God-given generators and big 4x4s.

Swagup is among the very few villages to have shunned missionaries. In doing so it has probably denied itself a school and health clinic. At the same time it has earned a fearsome reputation for the uncompromising way it maintains ancient tribal customs. Even Johannes was uncharacteristically edgy. 'If a woman uses the men's lavatory they will kill her,' he whispered.

George berthed the canoe beneath the village spirit house, a long, dark barn of a building raised 15ft on timber pilings. The only access was up a notched pole. Every clan has its own spirit house. They are where the souls of the ancestors live and are immersed in mystery. They are also strictly men-only.

From the age of about 12 to 15, boys leave their families to live in the houses during their long, and sometimes painful, initiation into manhood. What exactly that entails is virtually impossible for outsiders to discover, but the instruction comes from the village elders, prepares them to fight and hunt and brooks no association with girls. 'They teach how to catch crocodiles at night,' Johannes offered.

The Swagup spirit house contained no clues, except the end of the building is supposed to resemble a vulva. There were a dozen rattan mats spread under mosquito nets and a selection of gonging garamut drums, elaborately carved from wood

and the size and shape of kayaks. A drummer's individual rhythms are said to be as distinctive as a telephone number. As we left, we passed a group of men building canoes in a grove of palm trees. No one suggested we should join them.

The next day we went in search of the icon of PNG tourism, the bird of paradise. We left just before 6am, George, Johannes and me, interlopers in a monochrome world. It was as still as a print. A bleary moon peered through a skein of shifting cloud, silhouetting the canoe. There was the smell of wood smoke. The air, not quite chilled from yesterday, had that delicious coolness that augurs the heat of the tropical day. The river lay in slabs, shiny as ice. Our speeding canoe was the only thing moving on earth. Around us, all was etched in high-resolution clarity. Trees stood up to their knees in floodwater, nothing ruffling their reflections; curds of mist lay motionless across the face of the Hunsteins. It was a morning to live for and one I never expect to see again.

As it grew lighter the river narrowed and the scene became more intimate. The banks now were no more than 100 yards apart and the trees close enough to catch the sweetness of their scent. We passed through a threshold of reeds and small tufts of floating grass to enter an inky lake. 'Swamp water,' Johannes said. Between July and September it would be dry.

George ran the canoe into a bank of orange mud. Skidding up a muddy hillside latticed with tree roots, I reached a stand of tall trees. A backpacker and his guide were scanning the treetops. Only then was I aware of the sound. Deep woodwind notes resounded through the forest like the boom of someone blowing across the top of a large bottle. The guides were pointing animatedly to the canopy. Far above me I could just see, amid the foliage, the tip of a feather duster, a delicate spray of white and yellow plumage. 'Lesser bird of paradise,' the stranger's guide whispered. 'The tail.'

'Very special,' Johannes nodded.

Human life on the Sepik is run by canoe. Like corpuscles in a bloodstream, they bear the river's sustenance. They carry its folk, food and fuel. For the Sepik's villagers, canoes are bicycles, cars, buses and trucks. The largest are 65ft long and can carry 1,100 gallons of oil in 25 drums. That's a cargo of two tons. Their simplicity and functionality endows them with grace rather than beauty, although as pieces of mega-carpentry, strong and true, they possess colossal integrity. Few are decorated, neither painted nor named, yet from the moment a tree – cedar or, better still, what the locals call mapo – is cut from the forest, hollowed and launched, it is as much a part of the river as its water. A canoe has a life of about 10 years.

No canoe is quite the same, as no two trees are identical. Some are little more than logs on which a man can balance with a wooden paddle. Others are family-size, big enough to take a man fishing or his wife to market, to collect firewood and deliver the children to school. Children themselves learn to handle canoes from the age of five.

In the dry season boats are useless in villages up the Sepik's smaller tributaries. From Yerika it takes three or four hours to paddle to Ambunti when the rivers are full. Between May and October it is a day's journey on foot.

Yerika, prosperous from gold, has arrived at weird no-man's land between the ancient logic of the jungle and the inexplicable ways of the 21st century. In the spirit house men showed me first their mobile phones and then their spears. They use them to hunt wild pigs. They brought out stiff little bows made from palm, and quivers of arrows. Originally whittled from bamboo, the arrowheads today are filed from steel taken from window security grilles.

I chatted to a man called Crosbie. He was in his thirties and had a bushy beard and wide-brimmed hat tilted on the back of his head. I asked what he did. 'I am a subsistence farmer,' he replied disarmingly. His questions to me were revealing. How many languages do you speak? (PNG has around 800) Do you grow coconuts? What religion do you have? And the Queen? Does she give grants?

I left the Sepik and flew south to Goroka, at 5,250ft several degrees cooler than the river. It was Sunday. Goroka was not so much shut as sealed. High walls had a rime of razor wire; gates were metal and locked. Men, dopey with lethargy, and possibly substances stronger, sat around, listlessly chewing betel. A miasma of sullenness hung in the air.

In the Bird of Paradise Hotel there had been two armed robberies in the past eight months. I asked about the police. 'They come if you offer them pizza,' I was told.

Goroka's interest lies in the surrounding highlands. Ranges of bony mountains, their carcases shrink-wrapped in pelts of pale konai grass, bear the ritualistic spoor of a dark and arcane past. Well, that may be how we think of it. The Papua New Guineans treat it with nonchalance. We are talking cannibalism here. These hills are alive with the rattle of skeletons.

After the four decades I have spent traipsing around the world prospecting for experiences, it is rare to stumble into one 360 degrees unfamiliar in every extraordinary respect. Never before have I been shown caches of human bones by the descendants of those who gnawed them. Even more macabre, they were 'guarded' by children.

Aged between six and 10, the children were dressed in wigs and loincloths of moss, their bodies dusted with the ghostly ash of powdered limestone. Simon, my guide, called them Spirit Boys. One was his son. I have seen nothing quite so creepy: human skulls, fixed in rictus, ribs, femurs and tibia arranged around them, watched over by four solemn little sentries, half naked and arms insolently folded. JM Barrie meets the House of Horrors.

They cropped up twice – same boys, different bones – as tableaux on a 'cultural walk' devised by the enterprising people of Kermase, a village of 400 inhabitants, three churches and a 10,000ft elevation. Simon chatted blithely about cannibalism as we clambered across a rough hillside. Family members were eaten, and enemies: the former out of respect, the latter to take on their spirit. Human flesh was a significant source of protein. As someone commented later, if you have just killed a dozen of your enemies, why waste them? The practice was banned in the 1950s.

We talked of other rituals. I mentioned that in the JK McCarthy Museum in Goroka I had seen a necklace of desiccated fingers, cut from deceased relatives. They were worn as symbols of mourning, Simon explained, and he held up his left hand. The tip of his little finger was missing. He had amputated it himself as an expression of grief at the loss of a two-year-old child.

The main reason people go to Goroka is to see the Mud Men of Asaro. The legend goes that back in some niche of history, Asaro came under attack and the villagers took refuge in a creek. When they re-emerged, they were covered in white clay, an apparition that proved sufficiently disquieting to frighten off all subsequent marauders.

Today, legend has been turned into performance. Clay-painted warriors – two men and two tiny boys, aged three and five – advanced in a strange, slow-motion salsa, as tentative as a game of blind man's bluff. The infant warriors carried little war clubs, the men bows, arrows and spears. They wore spiky fingers of sharpened bamboo and, encasing their heads, globular clay helmets, moulded into scary grimaces and stuck with pig tusks. The effect was part deep-sea diver, part Hallowe'en. The performance over, we were invited to try on the helmets and have our photographs taken. I was a tourist again, albeit a solitary one. But that was about to change.

I joined the expedition ship, Orion, at Rabaul on the island of New Britain. In the Second World War the Japanese Admiral Yamamoto made Rabaul his headquarters. From now on we would be travelling through one of the critical theatres of the Pacific war.

Orion is a purpose-built expedition ship that has been operating out of Australia since 2005. It carries a maximum of 106 passengers in five-star comfort, and ten Zodiac inflatables to put them ashore in otherwise inaccessible places, like members of special forces. Commandos by day and cosseted at night, there were 70 of us.

Landings are one part of expedition cruising, lectures are another. We had talks on PNG's history, wildlife and culture. Our cruise director was Justin Friend, an Australian, whose impressive girth is exceeded only by his knowledge of the country. He

had been married to a Papua New Guinean and has garnered honorary chieftainhoods as others get degrees.

He described the Wantok system, the crucial commitment everyone makes to their language group. It's an allegiance that transcends all other loyalties. He taught us words of Pidgin, the country's lingua franca. Not pidgin English, note, though many expressions have recognisable roots in English vernacular. Anything broken is bagarap; a bicycle is wili wil; pubic hair is ars grass. Emergency exits are runaways, the Prince of Wales is nambawan pikininni bilong missus kwin, tourists are dim dims.

Justin was also responsible for brokering Orion's shore visits. Five years ago, when the ship first called at PNG, news of its arrival was relayed by drums. It was then that a council of chiefs decreed that, for the purposes of tourism, women visitors should be considered as men. At the village of Watam, Justin said, we would wade ashore from the Zodiacs and remain in a group. On no account should we walk in front of the paper dragon that would lead us into the village.

Watam's welcome ceremony, or something like it, was to be repeated more than once in other villages. Here our flotilla of inflatables was met by the village boat, a glass-fibre Boston Whaler. The chief stood in the prow. He wore an elaborate headdress decorated with sweet papers and little yellow spears cut from sugar sachets. Behind him, beneath banners of palm, were six drummers. Dressed in grass skirts, tiaras of dogs' teeth and necklaces of tusks and shells, they kept up a frenzied tattoo on small, hourglass-shaped kundu drums. Still drumming, they formed a guard of honour as we trooped into the village. People crowded into windows and climbed trees to watch the procession of the dim dims.

Orion comes to PNG up to half a dozen times a year. For the communities that it and a couple of other ships visit, tourism is a valuable source of revenue. One island, Tami, gets more than 40 per cent of its annual income from the few cruises that call. Ships pay to anchor, and craft markets materialise at every landing place.

Only in the bigger villages do they sell purpose-made souvenirs. Elsewhere you buy the things the people are still making for themselves – shields, war clubs, bilum bags, canoe splash guards, paddles, fish hooks carved from bone, wooden utensils, shell money, pottery and dyed Tapa cloth, made from bark.

In one village there was a sign, headed 'orion day bye laws'. Among them were: 'Dress not like a rascal'; 'If angry wait until tourist gone to fight'; 'Don't hold anything sharp – tomahawk, catapult or grass knife' and 'Don't love tourists.'

Small wonder villagers are happy to slip out of their everyday T-shirts and shorts and don their ceremonial cockatoo, cassowary and chicken feathers. Who can blame them for digging out their birds of paradise coronets – distressingly complete with head and beak – and daubing themselves with war paint to put on traditional sing sing celebrations. When do you hold sing sings normally, I asked a dancer in the Tami Islands. 'At Christmas and weddings,' she said. 'And when a cruise ship comes.'

We swam from snow-white beaches and snorkelled on pristine reefs. Some dived. In Madang we saw fruit bats by the score, wheeling in flocks and hanging in trees like so many black bin bags. In Samarai, now the skeleton of a key provincial capital,

I came across a memorial to Christopher Robinson, a former governor, who died in 1904. His epitaph read, 'His aim was to make New Guinea a good country for white men.' He was, the inscription said, 'a man as well meaning as he was unfortunate.'

Ernie Evennett knew the full story. I met him on the wharf. Ernie came straight from the pages of James Michener. A spare man in faded blue cap and shorts, his skin was stippled from 71 years in the sun. He was born in Samarai; his father skippered a schooner that traded between the islands. In 1941 Ernie was evacuated by flying boat and the town razed before it fell into Japanese hands. Now he runs fishing charters in a former prawn trawler.

And the story of Robinson? 'People from another island captured a very popular missionary. What was his name?' Ernie scratched at his cap to remember. 'Chalmers, that was it. They knocked him on the head and ate him. Robinson tried to recover the man's remains but the natives retaliated. Well, he blasted them out of the water and was reported. He took a bottle of whisky, stood in front of the flagpole and blew his brains out.'

As a traveller you discover; as a tourist – if you're lucky – you learn. I had just become a traveller again. Either way, as Johannes, the guide, would say, PNG is 'special place'.


A similar trip to Papua New Guinea and an Orion cruise can be arranged by Bridge & Wickers (020-7483 6555; The cost of an eight-day tour of the island, including domestic flights, is from £3,010 pp. Return flights to Port Moresby from London via Singapore cost about £1,000 between April and June.

Orion is making five voyages to PNG this year and will be visiting a number of places there for the first time. A typical 11-night cruise costs £5,642 pp including Orion's own charter flights between Rabaul and Cairns, all meals on-board and some excursions. Flights from London Heathrow to Cairns cost from £685 between April 8 and June 15.

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