Dear PM: ‘It breaks my heart that a sense of belonging has cost 50 lives’

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern paying her respects in Christchurch. Image: RNZ

Summer Joyan’s open letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern:

Dear Prime Minister Ardern,

I am a 13-year-old Muslim girl from Australia and I would like to publicly share my appreciation with you. I belong to the generation that was born after 11 September 2001. I have never really contemplated how dark the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant language is that permeates Australian society, because it is all I have ever known. I guess I’ve become used to hearing political leaders use that same language.

But then, after seeing the way you have responded to the terrorist attack in Christchurch, I realised that I now know what the role of a leader truly is. So I want to thank you on behalf of the Muslim community in this country for all that you’ve done since Friday. The way you have expressed support and genuine empathy for the Muslim community, and your care for the people of New Zealand as a whole, have been magnificent to see. And I wanted you to know how much it means to me.


Today I watched a video of you talking to the students at Cashmere High School regarding the terrorist attack. You showed such strength and kindness, and it made me wish I could experience the same thing in Australia. In my high school, not a single teacher or figure of authority even mentioned the attacks. They didn’t acknowledge that a white supremacist murdered 50 innocent Muslim men, women and children in a usually peaceful place of worship. They didn’t offer support or reach out to the Muslim girls in my school or even provide counselling services for grief and support.

Today’s “Unbreakable” New Zealand Herald front page. Image: PMC

In a country that is so similar to New Zealand, and yet also so different, can you imagine the comfort that my Muslim friends and I felt, knowing there was one leader in a neighbouring country that was on our side? My friends and I are Muslim; we were all born in Australian and it is the only place we have ever known. But this has been the first time we have ever felt like we were part of the fabric of a community, and it breaks my heart that this feeling of belonging has come at the cost of 50 lives. If only more politicians had the courage to stand up to injustices and knew when to stop playing political games with the lives of people who depend on them.

Your leadership has brought the world together. By supporting the New Zealand community, no matter what their religion, you have shown what a great leader you are ― not just in the good times, but when the times are as dark as can be. I cannot imagine any other political leader doing what you have done. I think that you deserve the Nobel Peace Prize! Many world leaders could learn a lot from the way you have held your nation together and comforted those who are grieving.


I’m sure you will remain Prime Minister of New Zealand for a long time. But if not, do you think maybe you could move to Australia and become our Prime Minister? That would be a dream come true.

Thank you again for all that you have done.

From an Australian-Muslim girl who now knows what real leadership looks like,

Summer Joyan

The solidarity vigil crowd at Auckland’s Domain last night. Image: David Robie/PMC A policeman at the solidarity vigil in Auckland’s Domain last night. Image: David Robie/PMC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

UPNG registrar first ‘victim’ of drastic campus action over fees hike

University of Papua New Guinea … furore over fees. Image: UPNG

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

The University of Papua New Guinea registrar Dr Peter Petsul has become the first victim of the new university council, reports the PNG Post-Courier.

Dr Petsul was suspended on Monday on full pay for 14 days by new Chancellor Jeffery Kennedy at the country’s national university.

READ MORE: Unions slam ‘farcical’ appointment of chancellor, VC

In sidelining the registrar, Kennedy wrote:

“Dr Petsul has been suspended for 14 days starting on 11th February 2019.

“During this period, he is given an opportunity to show cause and respond to the council why drastic actions should not be taken against him.”


Dr Petsul was sidelined after failing to effect a council decision to rescind a decision by the former council to increase school tuition and boarding fees.

Kennedy has instructed the acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Kenneth Sumbuk to appoint an acting registrar to run the administration.

In early January, RNZ Pacific reported that most UPNG students faced a massive 29 percent hike in their fees this year.

Some degree courses, such as medicine and nursing, faced even bigger increases.

At the time, UPNG’s public relations director James Robins said other expenses, such as accommodation, were unchanged.

But Robins said this compulsory fee, along with the annual government budget allocation, was needed to cover basic costs so students can complete their programmes.

Last month, the PNG Trade Union Congress slammed the appointments of Jeffrey Kennedy as chancellor and Dr Sumbuk as vice-chancellor in an ongoing controversy over the university’s governance.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

A future in journalism in the age of ‘media phobia’ – USP media awards

Report by Dr David Robie – Café Pacific.

Fiji Sun managing editor business Maraia Vula (middle) flanked by USP Journalism coordinator
Dr Shailendra Singh (left), joint winners Koroi Tadulala and Elizabeth Osifelo
and Professor David Robie (right). Image: Harry Selmen/Wansolwara

Keynote address by Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie at The University of the South Pacific Journalism Awards,19 October 2018, celebrating 50 years of the university’s existence.

Kia Ora Tatou and Ni Sa Bula

For many of you millennials, you’re graduating and entering a Brave New World of Journalism … Embarking on a professional journalism career that is changing technologies at the speed of light, and facing a future full of treacherous quicksands like never before.

When I started in journalism, as a fresh 18-year-old in 1964 it was the year after President Kennedy was assassinated and I naively thought my hopeful world had ended, Beatlemania was in overdrive and New Zealand had been sucked into the Vietnam War.

And my journalism career actually started four years before the University of the South Pacific was founded in 1968.

Being a journalist was much simpler back then – as a young cadet on the capital city Wellington’s Dominion daily newspaper, I found the choices were straight forward. Did we want to be a print, radio or television journalist?

The internet was unheard of then – it took a further 15 years before the rudimentary “network of networks” emerged, and then another seven before computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web and complicated journalism.

The first rule for interviewing, aspiring journalists were told in newsrooms – and also in a 1965 book called The Journalist’s Craft that I rediscovered on my bookshelves the other day – was to pick the right source. Rely on sources who were trustworthy and well-informed.

This was long before Robert Woodward and Carl Bernstein of The Washington Post made “deep throat’ famous in their Watergate investigation in 1972.

The second rule was: make sure you get the truth, the whole truth and nothing but… We were told that we really needed to get a sense of when a woman or a man is telling the truth.

This, of course, fed into the third rule, which was: talk to the interviewee face to face. Drummed into us was accuracy, speed, fairness and balance.

Many of my days were spent on the wharves of Wellington Harbour painstakingly taking the details of the shipping news, or reporting accidents.

The whole idea was accuracy, accuracy, accuracy. And what a drumming we experienced from a crusty news editor calling us out when we made the slightest mistake.

If we survived this grueling baptism of fire, then we were bumped up from a cadet to a real journalist. There were few risks to journalists in those days – a few nasty complaints here and there, lack of cooperation from the public, and a possible defamation case if we didn’t know our media law.

It wasn’t until I went to South Africa in 1970 – the then white-minority ruled country that jailed one of the great leaders of our times, Nelson Mandela – that I personally learned how risky it could be being a journalist.

Jailings, assaults and banning orders were commonplace. One of my colleagues on the Rand Daily Mail, banned then exiled Peter Magubane, a brilliant photographer, was one of my earlier influences with his courage and dedication.

However, today the world is a very different place. It is basically really hostile against journalists in many countries and it continues to get worse.

Today assassinations, murders – especially the killing of those involved in investigating corruption – kidnappings, hostage taking are increasingly the norm. And being targeted by vicious trolls, often with death threats, is a media fact of life these days.

In its 2018 World Press Freedom Index annual report, the Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without borders (RSF), declared that journalists faced more hatred this year than last year, not only in authoritarian countries but also increasingly in countries with democratically elected leaders.

RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said in a statement:

“The unleashing of hatred towards journalists is one of the worst threats to democracies.

“Political leaders who fuel loathing for reporters bear heavy responsibility because they undermine the concept of public debate based on facts instead of propaganda.

“To dispute the legitimacy of journalism today is to play with extremely dangerous political fire.”

Fifty seven journalists have been killed so far in 2018, plus 10 citizen journalists for a total of 67; 155 journalists have been imprisoned, with a further 142 citizen journalists jailed – a total of 297.

Professor David Robie (centre) with media freedom defenders at the 2018 Asia-Pacific RSF
strategic summit in Paris. Image: RSF

In July, it was my privilege to be in Paris for a strategic consultation of Asia-Pacific media freedom advocates in my capacity as Pacific Media Centre director and Pacific Media Watch freedom project convenor.

Much of the blame for this “press hatred” was heaped at that summit on some of today’s political leaders. We all know about US President Trump’s “media-phobia” and how he has graduated from branding mainstream media and much of what they publish or broadcast as “fake news” to declaring them “enemies of the people” – a term once used by Joseph Stalin.


Source: Reporters Without Borders

However, there are many leaders in so-called democracies with an even worse record of toying with “press hatred”.

Take for example, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, who is merely two years into his five-year term of office and he has unleashed a “war on drugs” killing machine that is alleged to have murdered between some 7,000 and 12,000 suspects – most of them extrajudicial killings.

He was pictured in the media cradling a high-powered rifle and he admits that he started carrying a gun recently – not to protect himself because he has plenty of security guards, but to challenge a critical senator to a draw “Wild West” style.

Instead, he simply had the senator arrested on trumped up charges. Duterte has frequently berated the media and spiced up his attacks with threats such as this chilling message he gave casually at a press conference:

“Just because you’re a journalist, you’re not exempted from assassination, if you are a son of a bitch. Free speech won’t save you.”

The death rate among radio journalists, in particular those investigating corruption and human rights violations, has traditionally been high in the Philippines.

In the Czech Republic late last year, President Miloš Zeman staged a macabre media conference stunt. He angered the press when he brandished a dummy Kalashnikov AK47 with the words “for journalists” carved into the woodstock at the October press conference in Prague, and with a bottle of alcohol attached instead of an ammunition clip.

In Slovakia, then Prime Minister Robert Fico called journalists “filthy anti-Slovak prostitutes” and “idiotic hyenas”. A Slovak reporter, Ján Kuciak, was shot dead in his home in February, just four months after another European journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia of Malta, who was investigating corruption, was killed by a targeted car-bombing.

Last week, a 30-year-old Bulgarian investigative journalist, Viktoria Marinova, was murdered. Police said the television current affairs host investigating corruption had been raped, beaten and then strangled. Most of the media killings are done with impunity.

And then the world has been outraged by the disappearance and shocking murder of respected Saudi Arabian journalist and editor Jamal Khashoggi by a state “hit squad” of 15 men inside his own country’s consulate in Istanbul. He went into the consulate on October 2 and never came out.

The exact circumstances of what happened are still unravelling daily, but Turkish newspaper reports reveal captured audio of his gruesome killing.


Source: Al Jazeera’s Listening Post

Condemning the brutal act, United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, expressed fears that enforced media disappearances are set to become the “new normal”.

While such ghastly fates for journalists may seem remote here in the Pacific, we have plenty of attacks on media freedom to contend with in our own backyard. And trolls in the Pacific and state threats to internet freedom are rife.

The detention of Television New Zealand’s Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver for four hours by police in Nauru at last month’s Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Summit while attempting to interview refugees is just one example of such attempts to shut down truth-seeking. Among the many protests, Amnesty International said:

“Whether it happens in Myanmar, Iran or right here in the Pacific, detaining journalists for doing their jobs is wrong. Freedom of the press is fundamental to a just society. Barbara Dreaver is a respected journalist with a long history of covering important stories across the Pacific.

“Amnesty International’s research on Nauru showed that the conditions for people who have been banished there by Australia amount to torture under international law. Children are self-harming and Googling how to kill themselves. That cannot be swept under the carpet and it won’t go away by enforcing draconian limits to media freedom.”

Journalists in the Pacific have frequently been persecuted by smallminded politicians with scant regard for the role of the media, such as led to the failed sedition case against The Fiji Times.

Professor David Robie with Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley and USP journalism coordinator
Dr Shailendra Singh. Image: Harry Selmen/Wansolwara

The media play a critical role in exposing abuses of power, such as Bryan Kramer’s The Kramer Report in exposing the 40 Maserati luxury car APEC scandal in Papua New Guinea last week. Papua New Guinea’s Maserati luxury sedans scandal.

In this year’s World Media Freedom Day speech warning about the “creeping criminalisation” of journalism, the new UNESCO chair of journalism Professor Peter Greste at the University of Queensland, asked:

“If we appear to be heading into journalism’s long, dark night, when did the sun start to disappear? Although the statistics jump around a little, there appears to be a clear turning point: in 2003, when the numbers of journalists killed and imprisoned started to climb from the historic lows of the late ’90s, to the record levels of the present.

“Although coincidence is not the same as causation, it seems hard to escape the notion that the War on Terror that President George W. Bush launched after 9/11 had something to do with it.”

Peter Greste himself, and his two colleagues paid a heavy price for their truth-seeking during the post Arab Spring upheaval in Egypt – being jailed for 400 days on trumped up terrorism charges for doing their job.

His media organisation, Al Jazeera, and rival media groups teamed up to wage their global “Journalism is not a crime” campaign.

Now that I have done my best to talk you out of journalism by stressing the growing global dangers, I want to draw attention to some of the many reasons why journalism is critically important and why you should be congratulated for taking up this career.

Next month, Fiji is facing a critically important general election, the second since the return of democracy in your country in 2014. And many of you graduating journalists will be involved.

Governments in Fiji and the Pacific should remember journalists are guardians of democracy and they have an important role to play in ensuring the legitimacy of both the vote and the result, especially in a country such as this which has been emerging from many years of political crisis.

But it is important that journalists play their part too with responsibilities as well as rights. Along with the right to provide information without fear or favour, and free from pressure or threats, you have a duty to provide voters with accurate, objective and constructive information.

The University of the South Pacific has a proud record of journalism education in the region stretching back ironically to the year of the inaugural coups, in 1987. First there was a Certificate programme, founded by Dr Murray Masterton (who has sadly passed away) and later Diploma and Degree qualifications followed with a programme founded by François Turmel and Dr Philip Cass.

It is with pride that I can look back at my five years with USP bridging the start of the Millennium. Among high points were gaining my doctorate in history/politics at USP – the first journalism educator to do so in the Pacific – and launching these very Annual Journalism Awards, initially with the Storyboard and Tanoa awards and a host of sponsors.

When I look at the outstanding achievements in the years since then with current Journalism Coordinator Dr Shailendra Singh and his colleagues Eliki Drugunalevu and Geraldine Panapasa, it is with some pleasure.

And USP should be rightly delighted with one of the major success journalism programmes of the Asia-Pacific region.

Wansolwara newspaper, which celebrated two decades of publishing in 2016, has been a tremendous success. Not many journalism school publications have such sustained longevity and have won so many international awards.

Innovation has been the name of the game, such as this climate change joint digital storytelling project with E-Pop and France 24 media. At AUT we have been proud to be partners with USP with our own Bearing Witness and other projects stretching back for two decades.

Finally, I would like pay tribute to two of the whistleblowers and journalists in the Pacific and who should inspire you in your journalism career.

Firstly, Iranian-born Behrouz Boochani, the refugee journalist, documentary maker and poet who pricked the Australian conscience about the terrible human rights violations against asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru. He has reminded Canberra that Australia needs to regain a moral compass.

And activist lawyer communicator Joe Moses, who campaigned tirelessly for the rights of the villagers of Paga Hill in Port Moresby. These people were forced out of their homes in defiance of a Supreme Court order to make way for the luxury development for next month’s APEC summit.

Be inspired by them and the foundations of human rights journalism and contribute to your communities and countries.

Don’t be seduced by a fast foods diet of distortion and propaganda. Be courageous and committed, be true to your quest for the truth.

Vinaka vakalevu

Professor David Robie is director of the Pacific Media Centre and professor of journalism in the School of Communication Studies at Auckland University of Technology. He is also editor of Pacific Journalism Review research journal and editor of the independent news website Asia Pacific Report. He is a former USP Journalism Coordinator 1998-2002.

University of the South Pacific’s award winning Class of 2018. Image: Image: Harry Selmen/Wansolwara

This article was first published on Café Pacific.

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Protests over ‘captive’ photojournalist, Confucius film featured on 95bfm

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Radio 95bfm Jemima Huston is joined by AUT Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie and reporter Rahul Bhattarai about the centre’s Asia Pacific Report news stories and issues being covered.

Topics include: the detention of a Bangladeshi photojournalist, in an ongoing protest in Bangladesh; the screening of the controversial movie In the Name of Confucius; ABC’s Asia Pacific shortwave radio cutbacks; and Vanuatu appointing a special envoy for West Papua.

LISTEN: Full PMC Southern Cross radio programme

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

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

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

By Pebriansyah Ariefana in Surabaya

Indonesian police have revealed that police and military officers raided a Papuan student dormitory in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya in Indonesia at the weekend because the students were allegedly planning to screen the documentary film Bloody Biak (Biak Berdarah).

Tambaksari Sectoral Police Chief Police Commander Prayitno claimed that security personnel went to the Papuan student dormitory in order to prevent an incident such as one that occurred in Malang earlier in the week from happening in Surabaya.

“[According] to information we received, they announced on social media that they would show the film Bloody Biak. So we went to the dormitory to anticipate this,” he said.

However, the planned screening of the film Bloody Biak on Friday was cancelled, and replaced by a screening of World Football Cup matches.

“If the discussion had still gone ahead. Apparently the film Bloody Biak [was to be screened] which tells the story of the massacre of Papuan people. I don’t know if this was true or not”, he said.

A joint operation by hundreds of TNI (Indonesian military), police and Public Order Agency officers (Satpol PP) raided the Papuan student dormitory located on Jl. Kalasan No. 10 Surabaya on Friday.


The dormitory is home to hundreds of students and Papuan alumni from various tertiary education institutions in Surabaya.

Security personnel sealed off the Papuan student dormitory because of suspicions that there would be “hidden activities”.

Inside the dormitory, they were to hold a discussion and wanted to screen the film Bloody Biak that evening.

On July 6, 1998, scores of people in Biak Island’s main town were wounded, arrested or killed while staging a peaceful demonstration calling for independence from Indonesia.

Earlier last week on July 1, police violently closed down a discussion by West Papuan students at Brawijaya University in the East Java city of Malang marking the 47th anniversary of the proclamation of independence in 1971 by the Free West Papua Movement.

Police claimed that they closed own the discussion following complaints from local people.

Translated from the story by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was “Film Biak Berdarah, Alasan Polisi Kepung Asrama Papua di Surabaya”.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Students reject new Yogyakarta airport, condemn forced evictions

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Students reject new Yogyakarta airport, condemn forced evictions

Students protest over the new Yogyakarta airport and forced evictions. Image: News

By Ristu Hanafi in Yogyakarta

Protesters and students from Indonesia’s Alliance against the Kulon Progo Airport have again demonstrated in front of the PT Angkasa Pura (API) offices in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta.

The action was marred by scuffles between protesters and security personnel and the blockading of the road in front of API.

The demonstration began at the weekend. The protesters took turns in giving speeches opposing the construction of the New Yogyakarta International Airport (NYIA) in Kulon Progo regency.

Although the demonstration initially proceeded without incident, it was suddenly marred by a scuffle between the protesters and API Yogyakarta security personnel.

As a result, the front gate to the API office was damaged.

The demonstrators then blockaded a length of the road in the direction of Solo-Yogya. Not surprisingly, there was a long traffic jam on the length of road alongside the Adisutjipto International Airport which is located not far from the demonstration.


The demonstrators were still blockading the road and giving speeches in the middle of the street when Detik News published this story.

The blockade is located on the length of road in front of the PT API office on Jl. Raya Solo Km 9. As a result the flow of traffic from the east towards Yogyakarta city was brought to a standstill.

Security personnel from AP I, the police and the TNI (Indonesian military) could be seen guarding the rally.

“We are protesting in solidarity with the residents of Temon sub-district, Kulon Progo, who are being impacted on by the airport project. Reject the NYIA project and stop the forced eviction of Kulon Progo residents”, said action coordinator. (sip/sip)

Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was “Demo Tolak Bandara Kulon Progo, Mahasiswa Orasi dan Blokir Jalan”.

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