Ben Bohane: A tribute to the ‘grand old man’ of the OPM Bernard Mawen

OPM Southern Commander Bernard Mawen (right) with Commander John Koknak (left) and the Morning Star flag at the time of being interviewed by Vanuatu-based journalist Ben Bohane in 1998. Image: © Ben Bohane

OBITUARY: By Ben Bohane

The Free Papua Movement (OPM) Southern Commander Bernard Mawen has died. He was the “grand old man” of the OPM, one of the first to begin the armed struggle for independence in West Papua in the 1960s and he will be missed by his people.

I interviewed him in 1998 in his camp along the Fly river on the border where he lived among the thousands of West Papuan refugees forgotten on the PNG border, who live on little more than sago and bananas.

Indirectly, his OPM guerrillas remain a protective buffer for both PNG and Australia against Indonesian aggression but it’s unlikely you’ll hear any eulogies from Canberra or Moresby and certainly not from Jakarta.

He lived for his people, in the bush, and that’s all you can ask of a leader. RIP.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Bernhard Marjen: West Papuan journalist and ex-policeman

Bernhard Marjen’s funeral earlier this month. Image: Sincha Dimara/My Land, My Country blog

OBITUARY: By Sincha Damara in Port Moresby

Bernhard Marjen was born in 1955 in Sorido, a village on the island of Biak on the West Papua side of the border with Papua New Guinea.

His father was a radio broadcaster, they moved to Hollandia (Jayapura) in the 1960s where he began his education with sister, Nelly, in the Dutch-led administration.

It was at a time when West Papua was moving to self-determination. Tensions were high but the children did not grasp the enormity of the activities taking place. They were only curious about why things had to be done a certain way, such as not to display the Morning Star flag in public. This is illegal under Indonesian law with up to 15 years in jail for punishment.

Their father, Elias Marjen, the radio rroadcaster and his cousin, Benedictus Sarwom, Information Officer in the Dutch-led government were in the thick of things, relaying important information and awareness about independence through the airwaves.

They both worked hard to keep the people’s hopes alive – freedom from the Dutch government against Indonesia’s push to gain control.

Sadly though it was not to be. Closely monitored and with their lives at risk, they were told to leave West Papua with their families and what they had on them – not a word of their departure being uttered to anyone, not even their parents, siblings, cousins and so on.


On the 9 March 1963, both men, their wives and two children boarded a ship bound for Madang in Papua New Guinea.

Heading to new home
Out at sea and as the sun was setting , they realised they were on foreign seas heading to a new home. Elias Marjen looked out to sea and explained to his two young children: this is it, there is no going back.

Faced with the situation before them, the siblings grew close and stayed close into adulthood.

From Madang they were flown to Port Moresby, met by government officials, including Maori Kiki, later Sir Maori Kiki, and driven to their new home at Hohola which was a growing surbub back then.

Being schooled in the Dutch-led government, Ben and his sister spoke Dutch and Bahasa Malay. However, abruptly plucked out of their home, they had to learn to speak English.

Ben completed his education in PNG and Perth, Australia.

He married a beautiful woman, Shirley Baptist from Milne Bay in 1979, and both families hosted a wedding reception at the Islander Hotel, now the Holiday Inn. One of the Black Brothers’ most popular performances was at the wedding reception for Ben and Shirley. This was before the West Papuan band went into exile.

Journalist times
Ben worked with the then Office of Information, and as a journalist, with the Times of PNG and as editor of Niugini Nius, later The National newspaper. He also worked with some notable PNG Leaders – Sir Julius Chan, Paias Wingti, the late Sir William Skate, former Milne Bay Govenor Titus Philemon – among them.

In 1984, he joined the Papua New Guinea police force. His passion for community policing earned him the title Chief Sergeant. His last post was Alotau, where he resided.

He was a born leader to the Marjen family and the extended West Papuan community in Papua New Guinea.

His parents have since passed on, including his uncle, Benedictus Sarwom.

Bernhard Daan Alfred Marjen felt the end of his life was near, after being ill for a while. He died in Alotau on Friday, June 1, aged 63. His wish to be cremated was granted.

Rest In Peace Brother.

This obituary was first published on Scott Waide’s blog My Land, My Country and is republished on Asia Pacific Report with permission.

The late Bernhard Marjen as a child in West Papua. Image: Sincha Dimara/My Land, My Country blog

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

‘Tenacious’ crusading journalist and editor Pat Booth dies aged 88

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: ‘Tenacious’ crusading journalist and editor Pat Booth dies aged 88

FLASHBACK: Pat Booth (left) talks to Allan Thomas and Ray Thomas, family members of Arthur Allan Thomas. Image: Auckland Star

By Phil Taylor of The New Zealand Herald

Crusading newspaperman Pat Booth was driven by the belief that the world needs more giraffes – people prepared to stick their necks out.

“That’s what he said in a speech to the Northern Club and I love that,” his step-daughter Victoria Carter told the Herald. “We need to create a Giraffe Club because the world needs more giraffes, more people who stick their necks out.”

Booth, one of the country’s most respected investigative reporters, died on Wednesday, aged 88, at Kumeu Village Rest Home in West Auckland.

Booth spent nearly 40 years at the now defunct Auckland Star, becoming editor, and is most renowned for his tireless work on the Arthur Allan Thomas miscarriage of justice case and the Mr Asia Crime syndicate.

The stories were scandalous and horrifying and were reported by Booth and a team of his reporters in a depth rarely achieved.

As part of the campaign for a pardon for Thomas, Booth wrote a book, Trial by Ambush.


This was followed by another campaigning book, Beyond Reasonable Doubt, by British investigative author David Yallop.

Royal pardon
Booth’s eight-year crusade resulted in Thomas, wrongly jailed for double murder, receiving a royal pardon.

A Royal Commission report stated that detectives had used ammunition and a rifle taken from Thomas’ farm to fabricate false evidence against him.

Booth also helped reveal an international drug ring during the notorious Mr Asia investigations. He wrote a book on the international drug smuggling ring, The Mr Asia File: The Life and Death of Marty Johnstone.

Journalism lecturer James Hollings described Booth as this country’s greatest journalist, someone driven by the desire to right injustice, in his book, A Moral Truth: 150 years of investigative journalism in New Zealand.

“He had such a range of abilities,” Hollings told the Herald. “He was a great writer and had a great gift with people, for the underdog. He was an absolutely tenacious and tireless researcher and investigator and he could inspire other people.

“He lived and breathed journalism till his last and had a passionate belief in why it is important.”

Hollings, who is head of the journalism school at Massey University, Wellington, said Booth’s work still inspired. “I tell my undergraduate students in the investigative journalism course about Pat Booth and what he did on the Arthur Allan Thomas case and they are riveted. It is a story which is timeless.”

Right angle
Donna Chisholm, editor-at-large of North & South and a senior staff writer for the Listener, described Booth’s editing style as “muscular”. He stamped himself on it. But you knew that if there was a story there Pat would get the right angle and treat it how it should be treated.”

As a young court reporter on the Star in the 1970s, Chisholm returned to the office with a story about a 17-year-old Niuean boy who had been stopped by police for no reason other than his ethnicity and charged with stealing two plastic combs from the plastics company he worked for.

“I told Pat and he cleared out the front page. It created a huge scandal. The following day an Auckland University lecturer walked into the police station and gave himself up for stealing a university pen.” The police declined to charge the lecturer and eventually withdrew the charges against the boy.

It transpired that the combs were discarded rejects.

“Pat was very quick at seeing the nub of a story and wringing it out for all it was worth. He campaigned on this story. It was front page lead for days and days. He was a journalist’s journalist.”

‘Off Pat’
Booth began his career as a reporter at the Hawera Star and kept his hand in, writing “Off Pat”, a column for the Eastern Courier, until hanging up his pen at the age of 85.

He served on the Howick Community Board in the former Manukau City Council on the Northland District Council and Waitemata District Health Board.

He wrote more than a dozen books, including a biography of Sir Edmund Hillary, Edmund Hillary: The Life of a Legend, his memoirs, Deadline, books on sport, crime, vintage cars and social history.

He is survived by six children from two marriages.

Phil Taylor is a senior journalist with The New Zealand Herald and Weekend Herald. Read more of his articles.

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The man I never knew – a tribute to a PNG crash pilot’s tragic end

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: The man I never knew – a tribute to a PNG crash pilot’s tragic end

By Malum Nalu in Port Moresby

As I look into the face in the photo
Into the eyes of the man I never knew
I see the pain
The hurt

He shows me the cloud-covered Saruwaged
The treetops
I hear the crunch
As the plane hits the branches

I see the hope in his eyes
As he makes an SOS
Hoping against hope
In the freezing cold as the pain sets in

I see the hurt
Of missing Christmas with loved ones
Help is not coming
Darkness is closing in

– To the memory of David Tong
who lost his life in the Saruwaged Range
serving the people of Kabwum, Morobe and Papua New Guinea

On the afternoon of Saturday, December 23, I received a text message from an Australian woman friend of mine asking if I was aware of a plane crash in the vicinity of Nadzab Airport in Papua New Guinea’s second city Lae.


Not being aware of anything, and thinking that this was fake news, I didn’t respond.

It was only overnight that sketchy reports started filtering in from Lae of a North Coast Aviation plane crash somewhere in Kabwum in the mountains of Morobe.

On the evening of Christmas Eve, I called up my good friend of many years in Lae, Simon Elap, who is the chief engineer of NCA.

He confirmed to me that the plane, a Britten Norman Islander owned by NCA, had crashed on the morning of the previous day in bad weather in the mountains of Kabwum when returning to Lae.

Pilot was alive
Elap told me that the pilot, an expatriate, was alive and had made contact.

However, rescue teams couldn’t make it in because of the weather.

Elap said Kabwum locals were walking in while a search and rescue team from Porgera mine would move in on the morning of Christmas Day.

I was concerned as just the previous month, on November 26, a good mate of mine, NCA chief pilot Thomas Keindip, had died in Lae after a short illness.

On Christmas Day, after a barbecue with my kids at home, I again called Elap and the news wasn’t too good: The search and rescue team from Porgera failed to make it into the crash site.

The crash site was 3000m above sea level on Mt Saruwaged in the rugged Saruwaged Range.

Rugged terrain
I have flown over the Saruwaged to Kabwum several times during my younger days as a reporter in Lae and know it as rugged terrain with thick, tropical rain forest.

On Tuesday, December 26, I called Elap in the evening and he told me the sad news: The search-and-rescue team reached the crash site 3000m above sea level on Mt Saruwaged that day but the pilot was dead.

I shed a quiet tear as I tried to imagine what the pilot had gone through.

Mt Saruwaged (Bangeta) in the Saruwaged Range of Morobe, where the fatal plane crash took place, is the fourth highest mountain in the country at 4121m.

The three taller peaks are Mt Wilhelm in Chimbu (4509m), Mt Giluwe in Southern Highlands (4367m), and Mt Boising in the neighbouring Finisterre Range of Madang (4150m).

The pilot was alive when the plane crashed on Mt Saruwaged on Saturday, December 23. However, rescuers did not get in until Tuesday, December 26, when he was already dead.

I can imagine the pain, misery, loneliness and freezing cold on the mountain.

The Saruwaged is not far from Nadzab, as the eagle flies, and I know this from travelling several times.

You fly from Nadzab, over the Erap River, into Nawaeb and across the rugged Saruwaged Range into Kabwum.

Could the pilot have been saved?
The weather had been very bad, however. Could the pilot have been saved if we had put in extra effort?

God only knows.

I then found out that pilot David Tong was not just an ordinary aviator.

He was one of the top pianists in Australia and the world.

He could have chosen to remain in the top music halls of the world but opted to fly in Papua New Guinea.

That fact about Tong’s life became known after his death.

His body, meantime, remains at the funeral home in Lae until arrangements are made this week.

His mother flew in from Australia to see the body of her son and was moved to tears after seeing the display of emotion shown by NCA staff and the people of Morobe.

Frequent guest pianist
According to the Greater Geraldton Regional Library website of Australia:

“Born in Macao in 1983, David Tong migrated to Australia in 1988 and soon began taking piano lessons.

“Following an extensive period of study, he went on to study at the prominent Juilliard School of Music in New York and was awarded the Vladimir Horowitz scholarship.

“In addition to having been a frequent guest artist with all Australian symphony orchestras, David was regularly invited to appear with many of today’s top orchestras, including the Hungarian Symphony Orchestra in Budapest, New York Philharmonic, as well as with the philharmonic orchestras of Rochester, Naples (Florida), and Hong Kong.

“Of significant importance in David’s career was a performance with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the 2002 Sydney Festival’s Gala Domain Concert, where he performed to an audience of more than 90,000 people.”

Since 2014, Tong had worked as a commercial pilot.

He was based in Geraldton and worked as a line pilot for Geraldton Air Charter before moving to PNG in 2016 to join North Coast Aviation.

Tong, 34, survived the crash and made calls on his mobile but bad weather prevented rescuers from reaching him for three days.

The pianist Zsolt Bognar writes: “It is with great sadness that I learn my old friend David Tong was found dead on Tuesday from injuries sustained in a plane crash.

“I remember first meeting him in Texas in 2001 and being struck by his sunshine-filled spirit, his strong Australian accent, and vivacious temperament.

“He was an incredible pianist with a breathtaking technique – I remember how he burst into my practice room and deployed Chopin Etudes with ease–and as a human being and friend he will be missed.

“What devastating news.”

David Tong, during the short time he spent serving the rural people of Kabwum, Morobe and Papua New Guinea, touched us all like an angel.

Thank you, David Tong, and Thomas Keindip before you, for lifting us all to greater heights.

Malum Nalu is a senior journalist with The National and a celebrated PNG blogger. His National Weekender article is republished by Asia Pacific Report with permission.

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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.”


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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Tribute to a NZ media mentor: How Yasmine Ryan taught me how to write

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Tribute to a NZ media mentor: How Yasmine Ryan taught me how to write

Yasmine Ryan, an award-winning New Zealand journalist who died tragically on Thursday, was the first Western journalist to begin writing about the beginning of the Arab Spring in Tunisia in 2011. This video interview was with media commentator Gavin Ellis last month. Video: The Spinoff

By Murat Sofuoglu in Istanbul

I have no idea how to say goodbye to Yasmine Ryan. It’s been two days since she passed away here in Istanbul. My mind is flooded with memories of her and it’s incredibly hard to stop thinking about her.

I met Yasmine in Istanbul last December. She was new to the city, hoping to start another chapter of her career as a senior features editor at TRT World. She handpicked a team of reporters for the Magazine section and I happened to be one of them.

I had almost no experience in narrative writing. But as Yasmine came in to her element, I felt I was in safe hands.

A woman with a gentle soul and generous heart, Yasmine never hesitated from helping journalists like me. In the first month, I found myself struggling to craft a compact feature length article, even though over time I had developed a comprehensive understanding over many social and political issues.

She mentored me for almost a year. Though her editorial touch was tender, she was bold enough to test my abilities. If my story lacked a strong introduction, she would tell me straight, “Murat, you need to rewrite your introduction.”


If a story lacked coherent framing, she would ask me to report more until I felt confident enough to write about the subject.

She edited tirelessly, fact-checked stories and sent notes until she felt certain that the piece had all the essential details necessary for a strong feature.

Fixing errors
She never showed any discomfort while fixing errors in my drafts and often responded with refined questions and solutions as well. Even when pointing out flaws in the copy I felt like she was gently tapping my head, not taking a sledgehammer to my work, to teach me what was wrong with my writing.

When I wrote long articles, which sometimes crossed the 2500-word mark, she would put her left hand on her forehead and say “Oh my God!” But she was always quick to lift my mood with a smile.

“Okay, we’ll take care it,” she would say.

She never antagonised me or “killed” my piece.

When it came to editing a sentence, she never touched or altered my voice as a writer, which is a core part of any writer’s identity.

She was respectful toward peoples’ voices and identities. She was proud of her family history, and her Irish-Catholic roots. She often recounted the story of her great grandparents, who survived British brutalities during World War I.

She perceived the British Empire’s so-called assimilation policy as a tool to erase Irish identity. Perhaps that’s what informed her careful approach as an editor that preferred to give weight to the writer’s voice, and not to general elements of style.

Armed with facts
Yasmine encouraged us to improve, insisting that we write more, and to always be armed with facts. She taught me that there was no shame in getting it wrong, as long as we were ready to work towards making it right.

On some occasions, I felt I had a valid point in my argument, but would later realise I was wrong and she was right.

Now with the news of her death, I wish I could be wrong one more time.

More than making me a better writer, she has made me a better person.

I still find it hard to comrehend, or process, that she’s no more. We are not only deprived of her brilliant journalism but also of her generosity and selflessness.

To know she’s gone forever, feels like a life sentence. We should feel sorry for ourselves, not for her. The world is certainly not a better place without her.

I pray her great spirit enlightens us forever.

Rest in peace, Yasmine.

And please forgive us.

Murat Sofuoglu is a journalist with TRT World and tweets at @Readingavenue.

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Flashback: Honouring independent journalist and film maker Mark Worth

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Flashback: Honouring independent journalist and film maker Mark Worth

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Land of the Morning Star … the 2004 documentary on West Papua made by Mark Worth.

From Pacific Media Watch / Australians for a Free West Papua Darwin

Australian award-winning journalist and film maker Mark Worth died in West Papua on January 15, 2004 – suspiciously just two days after the ABC announced his documentary, Land of the Morning Star, would be screened across Australia.

Many of Mark’s friends and colleagues deemed his sudden death as suspicious and many called on the Australian government for a thorough investigation.

Mark Worth … suspicious death in 2004 in the cause of West Papuan independence. Image: NFSA video still

Yet the Australian government predictably left any investigation up to the Indonesian government, which buried his body so quickly that no one was able to properly establish his cause of death, which was officially left as mere pneumonia. His death remains an unresolved issue with many.

Mark Worth’s sudden death shocked Papuans and all involved in Free West Papua campaigns in West Papua, PNG, Australia and the world.

Mark Worth had worked tirelessly exposing the truth about the cruel occupation of West Papua from inside West Papua, which ultimately, many assume was the real cause of his sudden death.

Mark had “worked closely with Papuan rebels for more than 15 years, making documentaries for SBS, ABC and the Nine Network and also producing radio and print stories”.

Questions remain unanswered and many have likened his suspicious death to the 1975 Balibo Five murders in East Timor.

A few days following his death, Pacific Media Watch published this report:


Saturday, January 17, 2004 – PMW:

SENTANI (RW/Pacific Media Watch): The death of Australian print, radio and film journalist Mark Worth has shocked Papuans and all those involved in the campaign to free West Papua from brutal repression by the Indonesian military.

Mark died from unknown causes in a hotel room in Sentani, West Papua, yesterday, January 15, 2004. Mark is survived by his Papuan wife Helen and baby daughter Insoraki.

Mark was born in PNG and spent most of his life in PNG and West Papua. He spent most of the last 15 years producing radio programs, writing articles and producing documentary films about the West Papuan people and their struggle for self-determination. Mark’s influential documentary films include the “Act of No Choice”.

His death must be treated as suspicious when recent events in West Papua are considered, and because it came just two days after the announcement by ABC television that his latest documentary Land of the Morning Star would premier on Australian television on Monday, 2 February, 2004.

Mark described this film as his “life-time project”, and he spent the best part of the last ten years researching, collecting footage and interviewing Papuans to make what will be a lasting memorial to this committed journalist.

Recent weeks have seen a major escalation in intimidation and provocation by Indonesia. In the last few days five Papuans have been sentenced to between 20 years and life for their alleged involvement in a raid on a military post in Wamena.

By contrast, the nine soldiers also involved received sentences of just 6 to 14 months. Papuans students are also being held in prison in Jakarta after a demonstration and face 20 years in jail, and seven highland leaders are being held in jail in Jayapura.

And this week infamous former police chief of East Timor, Timbul Silaen, who was charged with gross human rights violations during the 1999 East Timor atrocities, took up his post as Papuan police chief.

And on Monday, in an act that shows there is no limit to Indonesia’s provocation, a small island off East Timor was bombed by the Indonesian navy.

Mark was widely believed to have been linked to the recent footage, which featured on SBS Dateline last November, of OPM leaders making appeals to the international community for help to bring about peaceful dialogue to solve the problems West Papua.

Two days after the footage was screened, 10 Papuans, including one of the leaders who featured in the film, were shot as they slept in a raid by 200 Indonesian soldiers. Their bodies were later displayed like hunting trophies.

When Mark Worth’s high profile and reputation as an honest and influential journalist is considered, along with the recent events, is it any wonder that many view his death as suspicious? It is vital that Mark’s death be fully and independently investigated.

When West Papua finally gains independence, Mark’s contribution to that freedom will long be remembered by Papuans.

Please watch the full version of the critically acclaimed documentary Land of the Morning Star below by Mark Worth

Thank you Mark Worth for your amazing accomplishments in support of exposing the truth about the occupation of West Papua.

You will always be remembered and honoured.

We give the greatest respect to Mark Worth’s family and friends.

You will never be forgotten.

Papua merdeka!!

Remembering Mark Worth – Janet Bell interview – 2005

Flashback report by Australians for a Free West Papua Darwin