Paga Hill iconic human rights film banned from PNG festival

A Frontline Insight item about Joe Moses and the Paga Hill struggle for justice in Papua New Guinea. Video: Reuters Foundation

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

An internationally acclaimed investigative documentary about Paga Hill community’s fight for justice from the illegal eviction and demolition of their homes in Papua New Guinea’s capital of Port Moresby has been banned from screening today at the PNG Human Rights Festival.

“The ban highlights the lingering limits on free speech in our country and the continued attempts to censor our story of resistance against gross human rights violations,” claimed Paga Hill community leader and lawyer Joe Moses, the main character in The Opposition film who had to seek exile in the United Kingdom after fighting for his community’s rights.2,3

“This censorship comes as a deep disappointment for my community who have suffered greatly over the past six years.”

READ MORE: Paga Hill resettlement mothers plead for help from Governor Parkop

The PNG Human Rights Film Festival. Image: Programme screenshot

The Opposition film tells the David-and-Goliath battles of a community evicted, displaced, abandoned – their homes completely demolished at the hands of two Australian-run companies, Curtain Brothers and Paga Hill Development Company, and the PNG state.

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What was once home to 3000 people of up to four generations, Paga Hill is now part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit “AELM Precinct” which will take place this November.

Moses said: “We appreciate the PNG Human Rights Film Festival for choosing to screen The Opposition film at their Madang and Port Moresby screenings.

“It is shameful that our government continues to limit free speech and put such pressure on our country’s only annual arts and human rights event. How does this make us look to the world leaders who will be coming here for the APEC meeting in November?”

‘Speak up today’
Under the theme “Tokautnau long senisim tumora” (Speak up today to change tomorrow) the mission of the PNG Human Rights Film Festival includes: “We are all born free and equal in dignity and rights”.

The international and local human rights films screened “promote increased respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights in Papua New Guinea”.

Paga Hill youth leader Allan Mogerema, who also features in the film said: “The right to freedom of speech and freedom of press is provided for under Section 46 of the PNG Constitution. By banning our story, the PNG government is in breach of our Constitution and our rights as Papua New Guinean citizens.”


The Opposition trailer.

As a Human Rights Defender, Mogerema has been invited to the 2018 Annual Human Rights and People’s Diplomacy Training Programme for Human Rights Defenders from the Asia-Pacific Region and Indigenous Australia organised by the Diplomacy Training Programme (DTP) and the Judicial System Monitoring Programme (JSMP) to share his story of the illegal land grab, eviction and demolition of his community.

“The film has already been screened in settlements across PNG and at the Human Rights Film Festival’s Madang screenings. No matter how hard they try to censor us, our story continues to live, and our fight for justice continues to thrive,” added Mogerema.

“No matter how long it takes, our community will get justice.”

Dame Carol Kidu is also featured in The Opposition film.

Initially an advocate for the Paga Hill community, Dame Carol turned her back on them by setting up a consultancy to be hired by the Paga Hill Development Corporation, on a contract of $178,000 for three months’ work.

In 2017, she launched a legal action in the Supreme Court of NSW to censor the film.

In June that year, the court ruled against Dame Carol’s application.

#Justice4PagaHill

Paga Hill homes being destroyed in May 2012. Image: Frontline Insight screenshot

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Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Indonesia’s Papua ‘cover-up reflex’ prompts police dormitory raid

A video of a demonstration marking the bloody Biak massacre of 6 July 1998 staged last year. Video: BBB Times

By Michelle Winowatan

Dozens of Indonesian military and police personnel raided a student dormitory in Surabaya on July 6 to stop the screening of a documentary about security force atrocities in Papua.

It is the latest example of the government’s determination not to deal with past abuses in the country’s easternmost province.

Security forces carried out the raid following social media postings about the planned screening of the documentary Bloody Biak (Biak Berdarah).

READ MORE: Police claim raid on Papuan students to block ‘Bloody Biak’ film screening

The film documents Indonesian security forces opening fire on a peaceful pro-Papuan independence flag-raising ceremony in the town of Biak in July 1998, killing dozens.

A Guardian report about a “citizens’ tribunal” hearing about the 1998 Biak massacre published on 13 December 2013. Image: PMC

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Security forces said the dorm raid was necessary to prevent unspecified “hidden activities” by Papuan students.

The raid is emblematic of both the Indonesian government’s failure to deliver on promises of accountability for past human rights abuses in Papua and its willingness to take heavy-handed measures to stifle public discussion about those violations.

The government of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has not fulfilled a commitment made in 2016 to seek resolution of longstanding human rights abuses, including the Biak massacre and the military crackdown on Papuans in Wasior in 2001 and Wamena in 2003 that killed dozens and displaced thousands.

Killing with impunity
Meanwhile, police and other security forces that kill Papuans do so with impunity.

Media coverage of rights abuses in Papua are hobbled by the Indonesian government’s decades-old access restrictions to the region, despite Jokowi’s 2015 pledge to lift them.

Domestic journalists are vulnerable to intimidation and harassment from officials, local mobs, and security forces.

The government is also hostile to foreign human rights observers seeking access to Papua.

Last month, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said he was “concerned that despite positive engagement by the authorities in many respects, the government’s invitation to my Office to visit Papua – which was made during my visit in February – has still not been honoured”.

The raid in Surabaya signals the government’s determination to maintain its chokehold on public discussion of human rights violations across Indonesia.

This suggests that the government’s objective is to maintain Papua as a ”forbidden island” rather than provide transparency and accountability for human rights abuses there.

Michelle Winowatan is a Human Rights Watch intern. The Pacific Media Centre’s Pacific Media Watch freedom project monitors Asia-Pacific rights issues.

The scene at the Indonesian police raid on Papuan student quarters in Surabaya over the film Bloody Biak. Image: Suara.com

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Tributes flow for NZ’s Arab Spring journalist Yasmine Ryan

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Tributes flow for NZ’s Arab Spring journalist Yasmine Ryan

Yasmine Ryan … a “global” freelance journalist who died tragically in Turkey last month. Image: PMW

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

New Zealand journalist Yasmine Ryan, credited with being the first reporter writing in English about the Arab Spring from her base in Tunisia, has been farewelled at a funeral held in Auckland today, reports Stuff.

Ryan died in Turkey at the age of 35 after reportedly falling from the fifth storey of a friend’s apartment building in Istanbul on November 30.

Friends and family gathered at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Auckland to farewell the much-loved and respected journalist.

Yasmine’s mother, Deborah, spoke during the service of her daughter’s goodwill in the field of journalism.

“She believed in journalism, she believed in good journalism,” she said. “She did everything for women in journalism, did everything for everybody.

“She [Yasmine] died doing what she loved most.”

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The freelancer previously worked for Al Jazeera when she was covering the Arab Spring, and was later a fellow of the World Press Institute visiting the United States in 2016.

International award
She won an International Award for Excellence in Journalism in 2010 for a story about Algerian boat migrants.

She also worked as an online producer and video journalist for the International Herald Tribune, The New York Times, and in New Zealand with independent news agency Scoop.

She also contributed to Pacific Scoop and Pacific Journalism Review.

Friends and colleagues described her as a “selfless human” and “a fearless woman”.

Investigative journalist Selwyn Manning, who worked with Ryan at Scoop, said “the world is a better place because of her”.

He said: “It takes a lot to sink in. You see someone who has got such youth, zest and professionalism, who has so much to offer, and it is just a significant loss from so many angles,” he said.

Ryan was co-author with Manning and Katie Small of I Almost Forgot About the Moon, a book about the human rights campaign in support of Algerian asylum seeker Ahmed Zaoui and his family’s right to stay in New Zealand.

Theologian Zaoui was at the ecumenical funeral today where he said prayers in Arabic for Ryan.

Te Reo Māori and Hebrew prayers were also given at the funeral with Monsignor Bernard Kiely as celebrant.

A GiveALittle page set up by Jacinta Forde, who works at the University of Waikato with Ryan’s father, said her dad had “left on the first plane to Turkey … to bring her back home to New Zealand”.

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