Sunday, August 28, 2016

The ‘nuclear free’ Vanuatu girl with the enchanting smile


Riding out from Aneityum Island to the grass airstrip for the return flight back to Tanna.

By DAVID ROBIE


She had the most enchanting smile, even though she had lost her baby teeth. Her toothless grin turned out to be perfect for the role.

The five-year-old girl had her face painted with a black anti-nuclear symbol – different motifs on both her cheeks.

Beside her was a neatly sketched poster: “No nukes: Please don’t spoil my beautiful face”.

This was the scene in Port Vila’s Independence Park in 1983 during the region’s second Nuclear-Free and Independent Pacific Movement conference.

It was during the heady days of nuclear-free activism with Vanuatu, the world’s newest nation only three years old and founding Prime Minister Walter Hadye Lini leading the way.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

‘That day I saw the power of media, and how it can be tragic’


University of Papua New Guinea's Emily Matasororo ... in the background, images of heavily armed police
shortly before they opened fire on peaceful students. Image:" Del Abcede/PMC

By DAVID ROBIE


SURPRISING that a conference involving some of the brightest minds in journalism education from around the world should be ignored by New Zealand’s local media.

Some 220 people from 43 countries were at the Fourth World Journalism Education Congress (WJEC) conference in Auckland.

The range of diversity alone at the Auckland University of Technology hosted event was appealing, but it was the heady mix of ideas and contributions that offered an inspiring backdrop.

Topics included strategies for teaching journalism for mobile platforms – the latest techniques; “de-westernising” journalism education in an era of new media genres; transmedia storytelling; teaching hospitals; twittering, facebooking and snapchat -- digital media under the periscope; new views on distance learning, and 21st century ethical issues in journalism are just a representative sample of what was on offer.

Keynote speakers included Divina Frau-Meigs (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle) with a riveting account on how "powerful journalism" makes "prime ministers jump", the Center of Public Integrity’s Peter Bale (a New Zealander) on the need to defend press freedom, and Tongan newspaper publisher and broadcaster who turned “inclusivity” on its head with an inspiring “include us” appeal from the Pacific,"where we live in the biggest continent on planet Earth".

Sunday, June 19, 2016

UPNG students speak out - their own story, video of the police shootings



AN EXCLUSIVE video created by the University of Papua New Guinea's Student Representative Council about the events on 8 June 2016 involving the shooting of at least 8 UPNG students by police officers outside of their Waigani campus in Port Moresby.

Hospital authorities denied news reports of deaths, but confirmed at least 23 people had been treated for gunshot wounds, four with critical injuries

The students were assembling at the campus for a peaceful march to Parliament to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Peter O'Neill to face an investigation into corruption allegations.

The narrator is Kenneth Rapa, president of the SRC, and he explains the sequence of events leading up the police opening fire on the students with gunshots and tear gas.

Story on Asia Pacific Report

More reports at APR

Friday, June 10, 2016

History repeats itself with tragic impact in Papua New Guinea


Student footage as the Papua New Guinean police tried to arrest the leader, Kenneth Rapa, moments before opening fire on the crowd. Video: Cafe Pacific on YouTube


By DAVID ROBIE

BARELY had the whiff of teargas and gunshot smoke drifted away from the University of Papua New Guinea campus this week when the blame game started in earnest with the O'Neill government pointing the finger at the parliamentary opposition and also international media.

The media were blamed for initial reports by some reputable international brands that up to four people had been killed. There were no deaths, but four of the 23 people reported to be injured were taken to Port Moresby General Hospital critically wounded and stabilised.

It could have been an even worse tragedy.

Sadly, the scenes of chaos shown on campus and chaotic news reports are not uncommon.

I lived in Papua New Guinea for five years during the 1990s when I headed the journalism programme at UPNG.

There were at least two occasions when I was there when police came onto campus - a provocation in itself as there is an understanding that police don't do that, if not actually illegal - and fired teargas at protesting students.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Standoff in PNG: Students take on Prime Minister Peter O'Neill


An NBC News report on May 17 - a useful backgrounder, but much has happened since.

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill's "I will not resign" reply to UPNG and Unitech student presidents over their "stand down" petition - May 23


By Bal Kama

Students at the University of Papua New Guinea are the latest in a long list of those in the firing line for denouncing the leadership of PNG’s seemingly impregnable Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

The students have been on strike against the government since the end of last month. Students from the University of Technology and Divine Word University are also boycotting classes.

The UPNG students want O’Neill to resign from office and have demanded the police commissioner not suppress criminal investigations against the PM.

The students have threatened to withdraw en masse from their studies if the Prime Minister refuses to go. [Editor: He refused on Monday].

But what are their ultimate chances of success? Will O’Neill give in?

Saturday, May 7, 2016

West Papua: The crackdown aftermath - finding a dignified solution

The arrests of more than 1600 protesters in West Papua earlier this week are part of a broader systematic oppression of Papuans by the Indonesian government. Pictured are many detained protesters in the Mobile Brigade compound at Kotaraja, Jayapura.  Photo: Tabloid Jubi

OPINION: By Rev Benny Giay
 
LAST MONDAY, Indonesian police arrested more than 1600 people in Jayapura, Papua. They were rallying in support of a coalition of groups representing West Papuans’ aspirations for independence.

The police stopped the protesters, who were heading to the local parliament, forced them to board military trucks, and took them to the Mobile Brigade compound.

The protesters were demonstrating their support for the United Liberation Movement of West Papua's (ULMWP) bid to gain full membership in the grouping of Melanesian countries, the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).

The ULMWP holds observer status in the group, which consists of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. Last year, Indonesia was granted associate membership.

To prevent further violent mistreatment of protesters, together with several Papuan councillors and church leaders, that day I [May 2] went to the Mobile Brigade’s compound to negotiate with the security forces to release the detainees peacefully.

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