Sunday, April 5, 2020

Creeping authoritarianism in Pacific not the answer to virus pandemic

The USS Theodore Roosevelt docked in Guam ... local critics unhappy about a "dangerous" gamble
with coronavirus. Image: US Navy screenshot
PACIFIC PANDEMIC DIARY: By David Robie, self-isolating in Auckland under New Zealand’s Covid-19 lockdown as part of a Pacific Media Watch series.

A RATHER beautiful Guåhan legend is rather poignant in these stressed pandemic times. It is one about survival and cooperation.

In ancient times, goes the story, a giant fish was eating great chunks out of this western Pacific island. The men used muscle and might with spears and slings to try to catch it.

This didn’t work. So, the women from many villages got together while washing their hair in a river. They wove their locks into a super strong net, caught the fish and saved the island.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

How Ardern’s coronavirus kindness theme can become contagious




Shelf-Isolation. Cartoon: ©Malcolm Evans/The Daily Blog
PACIFIC PANDEMIC DIARY: By David Robie, self-isolating in Auckland under New Zealand’s Covid-19 lockdown as part of a new Pacific Media Watch series.


A South African celebrity jingle that has gone viral at the end of this week could easily have been a theme song for New Zealand when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared a lockdown on Monday for midnight on Wednesday.

Several of South Africa’s most popular artists, such as Madjozi, Zolani Mahola and Francois van Coke, teamed up with the national groceries retailer Pick n Save to produce the rollicking “Don’t Panic Buy” in a bid to prevent stockpiling.

The lyrics urge shoppers to only buy what they really need and save the rest for fellow consumers, who may need it far more.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Activists give Indonesian leader details of Papuan deaths, political prisoners

Morning Star flag graphic: The Wire
From Pacific Media Watch

Pacific human rights activists have personally handed Indonesian President Joko Widodo a protest letter which includes a list of deaths and political prisoners in West Papua.

Written by West Papuan activists and signed by Greens leader Adam Bandt and Senator Richard Di Natale, the letter listed the names of 57 political prisoners charged with treason and held behind bars in seven cities across Indonesia, reports the community and indigenous radio The Wire.

The letter also included the names and ages of 243 civilians who have died during the Nduga military operation since December 2018, 110 of them children.

LISTEN TO THE WIRE: Letter given to President Widodo outlines West Papuan deaths

“These revelations ask the question of why President Widodo and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison would discuss economic ties and climate change, when human rights are at risk?”, The Wire asked.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Rappler challenges Duterte’s ‘media powers’ in democracy fight back

President Rodrigo Duterte with the press ... his powers to ban Rappler for two years challenged
in court. Image: Freeze frame/David Robie
By David Robie in Manila
Rappler
, the innovative online publisher that has been at the media freedom frontline in the Philippines for the past three years, has challenged President Rodrigo Duterte by taking the executive to the Supreme Court.

The news website has called on the court to rule on whether President Duterte – or the state executive branch – has the power to control the media.

It has asked the court to lift a nearly two-year coverage ban against Rappler for covering events involving President Duterte wherever he is in the Philippines or abroad.

READ MORE: The state of the Philippine media under Duterte – PCIJ
In a remarkable media freedom test case, Rappler has asked justices to clarify: Could the President pick and choose who is “legitimate media” and who is not?

It has also asked could Duterte restrict access to public events?

Thursday, January 16, 2020

'Monsters Inc' - Ampatuan massacre justice aftermath with more fear of warlords, corruption



                 The Rappler video feed on the Ampatuan convictions last month.

For decades, the feared Ampatuan clan held sway in the impoverished province of Maguindanao in Mindanao in the southern Philippines. Through a ruthless private army and a reported “propensity for beheadings”, the clan cultivated a culture of impunity. Now, however, reports David Robie, a courageous judge has challenged the horror by jailing the masterminds of the 2009 Ampatuan massacre for life.

SPECIAL REPORT: By David Robie in Manila

The families of the 58 victims – 32 of them journalists or media workers – had waited for 10 years for justice in the Philippines.

After so long, what is another couple of hours?

The Ampatuan massacre in Maguindanao on 22 November 2009 was the world’s worst single attack on journalists and the worst elections-related violence in a country notorious for electoral mayhem.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Iran a hugely ‘friendly’ country behind the sabre-rattling


The fate of the "US Den of Espionage" ... Washington's embassy that was seized by Iranian protesters
along with 52 diplomat hostages during the revolution in 1978
is now a museum to US unpopularity in Tehran. Image: David Robie/PMC
Iran attracts an onslaught of negative media in New Zealand and Western media. But is it fair or deserved? David Robie has spent several weeks travelling in the country on sabbatical and finds the media negativity far from the reality of the “most friendly” country he has ever visited in the first of a three-part series.

THE HEADLINES were chilling as we flew into Turkey and then Iran. “All out war”, trumpeted The New Zealand Herald, as being an imminent response to last month’s surprise drone attack knocking out almost 50 percent of Saudi Arabia’s oil production, blaming the attack on the Islamic Republic without convincing evidence.

President Donald Trump warned that the US was “locked and loaded” if Iran was found to be behind the attacks, and then later apparently backed off and relied on even heavier sanctions.

The next day the Herald belatedly ran the other side of the story, quoting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s response denying the allegations and warning that Iran would defend itself in the case of a US-Saudi attack while offering the “hand of friendship and brotherhood” for overseeing security in the Persian Gulf.

Houthi forces in neighbouring Yemen, invaded by a Saudi-led coalition in 2015 that led to widely condemned four-year civil war, claimed to have carried out the drone and rocket attack on the two oil installations at Abaiq and Khurais.

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