Sunday, March 11, 2018

Harsh response lessons abound in wake of PNG’s ‘invisible’ quake

Timu village from the top showing the site where 11 people were buried by landslips during the earthquake on
26 February 2018. Four of the bodies have been recovered, seven are still buried, including five children.
Image: Sylvester Gawi/Graun Blong Mi- My Land
By David Robie

Tomorrow Papua New Guinea is marking two weeks since the devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake that devastated parts of Hela, Southern Highlands and Western Highlands provinces on February 26. Officials still have little idea of the full scale of the death and damage, because of the remote rugged terrain involved in what has been described by the BBC as the “invisible quake” – at least to the outside world. However, more than 100 people have died with landslides engulfing entire villages.

Some Papua New Guinean journalists have been doing an admirable job reporting the disaster to international media as well as their own people in difficult and risky circumstances – journalists such as EMTV’s deputy editor Scott Waide and NBC’s Sylvester Gawi. When communications were difficult through mainstream media connections, they have used their personal blogs. Here is the latest blog from Gawi republished from Asia Pacific Report:

BRIEFING: By Sylvester Gawi in Tari, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea’s Highlands earthquake disaster has brought to light some of the many things that need to be considered in assisting those affected by disaster and restoring vital infrastructures and communication links between relief agencies and the people.

The response to the 7.5 magnitude earthquake on February 26 took almost a week for the National Disaster Centre to find out statistics of people who were affected, casualties, homes and food gardens destroyed and how to deliver relief supplies to those affected.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Where were the Pacific activists and independent media at climate summit?

Papua New Guinea’s Northern Province Governor Gary Juffa …he asked what about the climate
change activists and West Papuan advocates? Where were they? Image: David Robie/PMC

By David Robie at Te Papa

A recent Andy Marlette cartoon published by the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon, depicted a bathtub-looking Noah’s Ark with a couple of stony-faced elephants on board with a sodden sign declaring “Climate change is a hoax”.

The other animals on board floating to safety were muttering among themselves: “The elephants won’t admit that these 100-year events are happening once a month …”

At the other end of the globe in Wellington this week for the second Pacific Ocean Climate Conference at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum, I encountered a fatalistic message from a Tongan taxi driver counting down the hours before the tail-end of Tropical Cyclone Gita struck the New Zealand capital after wreaking a trail of devastation in Samoa, Tonga and Fiji.

He had it all worked out: “We don’t need climate conferences,” he said. “Just trust in God and we’ll survive.”

However, a key takeaway message from the three-day conference was just how urgent action is needed by global policymakers, especially for the frontline states in the Pacific – Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu, where none of the sprawling atolls that make up those countries are higher than 2m above sea level.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Coups, globalisation and tough questions for Fiji's future

The General's Goose - three decades of Fiji "coup culture". And what now with the second
post-coup election due this year?
REVIEW: By David Robie of Café Pacific
Historian Dr Robbie Robertson ... challenges "misconceptions"
about the Bainimarama government and previous coups, and asks
fundamental questions about Fiji's future.

When Commodore (now rear admiral retired and an elected prime minister) Voreqe Bainimarama staged Fiji’s fourth “coup to end all coups” on 5 December 2006, it was widely misunderstood, misinterpreted and misrepresented by a legion of politicians, foreign affairs officials, journalists and even some historians.

A chorus of voices continually argued for the restoration of “democracy” – not only the flawed version of democracy that had persisted in various forms since independence from colonial Britain in 1970, but specifically the arguably illegal and unconstitutional government of merchant banker Laisenia Qarase that had been installed on the coattails of the third (attempted) coup in 2000.

Yet in spite of superficial appearances, Bainimarama’s 2006 coup contrasted sharply with its predecessors.

Bainimarama attempted to dodge the mistakes made by Sitiveni Rabuka after he carried out both of Fiji’s first two coups in 1987 while retaining the structures of power.

Instead, notes New Zealand historian Robbie Robertson who lived in Fiji for many years, Bainimarama “began to transform elements of Fiji: Taukei deference to tradition, the provision of golden eggs to sustain the old [chiefly] elite, the power enjoyed by the media and judiciary, rural neglect and infrastructural inertia” (p. 314). But that wasn’t all.

Friday, January 26, 2018

UN critics join global outrage over Duterte’s Rappler ‘free press’ attack

Rappler’s CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa says that the Philippine government spends a lot of effort to turn journalism into a crime which shouldn’t be the case. Video: Rappler

By David Robie from Asia Pacific Report

Three United Nations special rapporteurs have added their voice to the global protests this week over the President Rodrigo Durterte government bureaucracy’s attack on the independent online news website Rappler and a free press in the Philippines.

Rappler has been the latest media target for the administration’s wrath over a tenacious public interest watchdog that has been relentless in its coverage of the republic’s so-called “war on drugs” and state disinformation.

Some media freedom advocates claim that the Philippines is facing its worst free expression and security crisis since the Marcos dictatorship, with The New York Times denouncing the “ruthlessness” and “viciousness” of Duterte’s disdain for democracy.

The death toll in the extrajudicial spate of killings range between 3993 (official) and more than 12,000 since Duterte took office on June 30, 2016, according to Human Rights Watch.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

One Palestinian family’s devastating story of Israeli military cruelty

Israel arrests 16-year-old Palestinian girl Ahed Tamimi in a night raid in the occupied West Bank. Video: Al Jazeera

COMMENT: By Sister Barbara Cameron

When I read last week of the detention of a young Palestinian teenage girl, 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi, dragged from her bed in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers, for me it wasn’t just another Palestinian teenage protester.

I was devastated. This is the beautiful young woman I’d met as a happy, innocent 10-year-old, in whose house I’d slept, with whose family I’d sat at table, to whose grandmother I had listened as she shared the pain of the terrible things her own children had suffered at the hands of the Israeli military, her daughter shot in a military court room, her son detained innumerable times.

I was gutted thinking of this family having to deal with yet another trauma, fearing what might happen to their 16-year-old daughter in military detention.

READ MORE: Why is the West praising Malala but ignoring Ahed?

Ahed with her mother Nariman ... a family suffering
again from the cruelty and injustice of the Israeli
occupation. Image: Al Jazeera
Not only that but her 15-year-old brother, Mohammed, is now lying in an induced coma as the result of the injury caused by being shot in the face by a rubber bullet. For me it was heartbreaking news.

In 2011, as a NZ Catholic nun, a Mission Sister, I had volunteered with the International Women’s Peace Service group in Palestine on the West Bank, a group that supports the Palestinians in any nonviolent resistance to the occupation of their land by Israel, and reports on human rights abuses.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Film industry sources criticise TVNZ ‘devaluing’ of Māori programmes

New Māori and Pacific television programming commissioning move for TVNZ leaves many
in industry "shocked and questioning". Image: TEARA
 By Kendall Hutt of Pacific Media Watch

Independent filmmakers fear a slow erosion of Māori and Pacific content at Television New Zealand has begun.

Their fears have emerged after the role of commissioner for Māori and Pacific programmes was removed from a full-time commissioning role in recent restructuring by TVNZ.

The move has left some within the film and television industry shocked and questioning whether it is ignorance or arrogance.

“Given that we are an increasing demographic, this seems like a mad racist move,” said Joanna Paul (Ngai te Rangi), an independent television producer who was one of the pioneers of the Māori Television Service.

“That TVNZ considers this a part-time job is arrogant and ignorant enough, but given there is more Māori and Pacific programming on air than ever before beggars belief,” Paul said.

>>> Café Pacific on YouTube


>>> Popular Café Pacific Posts