Thursday, December 18, 2014

Video insights into Asia-Pacific political journalism

ASYLUM SEEKERS in the Pacific, media freedom issues, post-elections Fiji, climate change, the climate of impunity in the Philippines and investigative documentaries in Timor-Leste, Australia and New Zealand were among the wide-ranging topics featured at a three-day political journalism in the Asia-Pacific conference last month.

The conference marked 20 years of publishing the research journal Pacific Journalism Review.

This video features the conference opening, video premiere Sasya Wreksono's min-doco The Life of Pacific Journalism Review, the Ampatuan massacre in the Philippines, and media freedom issues in the Pacific and Fiji. Speakers include: Walter Fraser (AUT's Head of Pacific Advancement), Sasya Wreksono (NZ/Indonesia), Del Abcede (Philippines), Barbara Dreaver (NZ/Pacific), Ricardo Morris (Fiji).

Friday, December 12, 2014

West Papua's Saralana Declaration most vital unity development for 52 years

Newly elected spokesman for the West Papuan unified movement Benny Wenda is treated to a chiefly welcome
at the opening ceremony of the "unity" meeting in Port Vila.
Photo: © Ben Bohane/
A unified movement represents a new hope for West Papuans to continue building momentum for their self-determination struggle in spite of allegations of a new atrocity in Paniai by Indonesian security forces this week, writes Ben Bohane from Port Vila.

COMMENTARY: IN A gathering of West Papuan leaders in Vanuatu earlier this month, different factions of the independence movement united to form a new body called the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP).

In kastom ceremonies that included pig-killing and gifts of calico, kava and woven mats, West Papuan leaders embraced each other in reconciliation and unity while the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, church groups and chiefs looked on. The unification meeting was facilitated by the Pacific Council of Churches.

The new organisation unites the three main organisations and several smaller ones who have long struggled for independence. By coming together to present a united front, they hope to re-submit a fresh application for membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) as well as countering Indonesian claims that the West Papuan groups are divided.

The divisions have tended to be more about personalities than any real policy differences since all the groups have been pushing for the same thing: independence from Indonesia. But the apparent differences had sown some confusion and gave cover to Fiji and others in the region to say the movement was not united and therefore undeserving of a seat at the MSG so far.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A struggle for ‘truth’ and the NZ media myopic over Fiji, West Papua

The vigil for 58 victims of the 2009 Ampatuan massacre - including 32 news people - at AUT University last week.
Photo: © 2014 John Miller
INTERESTING that the Indonesian news agency Antara should send one of its most senior journalists all the way from Jakarta to cover last week’s Pacific Journalism Review conference in Auckland, yet the local New Zealand media barely noticed the largest-ever local gathering of activists, media educators, journalists, documentary makers and newsmakers in one symposium.

Apart from a half-hour interview on Radio NZ’s Sunday with Max Stahl, the Timor-Leste film maker and investigative journalist world-famous for his live footage of the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre – images that ultimately led to the world’s first independence-by-video triumph some eight years later – and a couple of bulletins on RNZI, you would have hardly known the event was on.

But the conference was packed with compelling and newsworthy presentations by journalists and media educators. Topics ranged from asylum seekers to the emerging “secret state” in Australia; from climate change to the logging of “cloud forest’ on the island of Kolombangara; from post-elections Fiji to the political ecology of mining in New Caledonia.

All tremendously hard-hitting stuff and a refreshing reminder how parochial and insignificant the New Zealand media is when it comes to regional Asia-Pacific affairs.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Exposes galore in NZ's Hot Air - and now Hot Air 2 needed for Pacific?

Raging fires around Athens, a still from the devastating Alister Barry climate change film Hot Air
by photographer Nikos Pilos.
IN THE wrap-up session of the Pacific Journalism Review 20th anniversary conference at the weekend, independent film maker Alister Barry was beaming.

"I've never had such a tremendous reception for the film," he admitted to Café Pacific. He was blown away by the tremendously engaged and enthusiastic response of a packed audience. Many said his climate change film Hot Air, premiered at the NZ International Film Festival in July, was inspirational.

But what needs to be done? The Vanguard Films investigation reveals in a devastating way how politicians are shackled when trying to confront such a critical global challenge as climate change. It also exposes the weaknesses of the NZ democratic system.

The lively discussion at AUT University centred on what strategies need to be followed. Some called for another documentary about climate change in the Pacific. A graduating student journalist from AUT was on hand to report the discussion.

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