Sunday, January 15, 2017

Honouring independent journalist and film maker Mark Worth

Mark Worth ... suspicious death in the cause of West Papuan independence. Image: NFSA video still
From Australians for a Free West Papua Darwin

ON this day we honour Australian award-winning journalist and film maker Mark Worth who 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.

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:
 SUSPICIOUS DEATH OF MARK WORTH, JOURNALIST, FILM MAKER AND CAMPAIGNER FOR JUSTIUCE FOR WEST PAPUA
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. 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.

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

Mark Worth - a guerrilla and a one-man band - Pacific Journalism Review profile by Ben Bohane (log in to see full text)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Florida airport massacre – few basic questions being raised


Surveillance footage of the accused guman Esteban Santiago opening fire at Fort Lauderdale Airport last Friday. Video: TMZ website

By DAVID ROBIE

JUST having missed the shootings by a US veteran at Florida’s Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport last Friday by less than a couple of hours after returning from a Caribbean vacation, I have been following the aftermath with intense interest.

From the safety of Little Havana in Miami, I have monitored the Spanish and English-language press (almost 60 percent of the population are Hispanic speakers) and live local television reports on the Fort Lauderdale massacre.

What has struck me most is that several key issues have barely been covered in the media soul-searching, topmost being the bizarre gun culture itself.

A professor commenting on CNN about another issue – the fate of the so-called Obamacare "universal" health law after Donald Trump is inaugurated next week – compared the US culture unflatteringly with the European citizens’ sense of “commonwealth” described his countryfolk as “still cowboys”.

This sentiment was reflected in at least one letter in the press. Writing in a letter to the editor in the Los Angeles Times, Barbara Rosen noted with irony:

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Carry on Fidel Castro’s global legacy, says Cuban ambassador


Cuban ambassador to New Zealand Mario Alzugaray during his passionate tribute to Fidel Castro
at Auckland Trades Hall tonight. Video clip: Café Pacific


By David Robie 

CUBAN revolutionary leader Fidel Castro’s contribution to global social justice and dignity, and to developing nations worldwide – including the Pacific, was praised in New Zealand tonight.

Activists, politicians, academics, journalists, teachers, trade unionists and community workers were among about 100 people gathered at the Auckland Trades Hall to hear Cuban Ambassador Mario Alzugaray and other speakers give tributes to Castro’s life.

Alzugaray challenged the audience to continue Castro’s half century of struggle for a better society: “The best way to remember Fidel is to carry on his legacy and keep it alive.”

The ambassador said Castro had social justice at the core of his ideals and action.

“He was an internationalist since the very beginning,” Alzugaray said. “He was involved in every movement connected to the anti-imperialist struggle in Latin America.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Media coverage of war atrocities opens debate on INFOCORE research

 
Media is going through a "tremendous transformation as a result of the ever-changing, global media landscape". Video: Euronews

By Elena Cavalione of Euronews

IN A world torn apart by conflicts old and new, the issue of the media’s role seems to have growing importance.

Media coverage of atrocities committed during wars is opening up debate on the power images have to influence public opinion and political decisions.

INFOCORE is an international research study funded by the 7th European Framework Programme of the European Commission. It brings together experts from the Social Sciences to investigate the media’s role in violent conflicts in three regions: the Middle East, the Balkans and Central Africa.

Romy Frohlich from Ludwig Maaximilians University in Munich explains that journalism is under a state of tremendous transformation as a result of the ever-changing, global media landscape.

“What we see so far”, she says, “is that this change in journalism does affect or had an effect on the power balance within the shaping of public discourse, for example the relation between journalism and political actors or journalism and propaganda and public relations.”

Monday, September 19, 2016

Philippines president’s ‘hit man’ allegations spur renewed calls for killings probe

Time magazine and Singapore Sunday Times reports on Philippines 'killing fields'. Image: David Robie

By DAVID ROBIE in Manila

MOUNTING calls for the Philippines president to be investigated over the allegations of human rights violations deepened over the weekend with revelations by a confessed hit man that at least 1000 extrajudicial killings had been ordered when the president was mayor of the southern city of Davao. 

Fresh reports featuring the allegations were included in a cover story in the latest Time magazine, the Singapore Sunday Times and a new inquiry by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism into the so-called “Davao Death Squad”.

It is only 80 days since President Rodrigo Duterte was sworn into office, and the PCIJ reports that he now “commands an armed contingent that is a hundred times bigger than it was in Davao, and his ‘enemy’ a thousand times more numerous”.

More than 3000 people have reportedly been killed so far in the so-called Project Tokhang – or “Double barrel” -  war on drugs. The president has also called for a six-month extension on his policy, claiming that the drugs business is largely "operated by people in government".

Time magazine branded its report the “killing season” in the Philippines with a subheading of “Inside President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs”.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The ‘nuclear free’ Vanuatu girl with the enchanting smile


Riding out from Aneityum Island to the grass airstrip for the return flight back to Tanna.

By DAVID ROBIE


She had the most enchanting smile, even though she had lost her baby teeth. Her toothless grin turned out to be perfect for the role.

The five-year-old girl had her face painted with a black anti-nuclear symbol – different motifs on both her cheeks.

Beside her was a neatly sketched poster: “No nukes: Please don’t spoil my beautiful face”.

This was the scene in Port Vila’s Independence Park in 1983 during the region’s second Nuclear-Free and Independent Pacific Movement conference.

It was during the heady days of nuclear-free activism with Vanuatu, the world’s newest nation only three years old and founding Prime Minister Walter Hadye Lini leading the way.

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