Monday, September 17, 2007

Hidden voices - a Filipina Muslim on the US 'war on terror'

Amirah Ali Lidasan is national vice-chairperson of the Suara Bangsamoro Party List Organisation, which aims to get representation in Congress for the Philippines' several million Muslims (known as Moros and heavily concentrated in the southernmost islands). I've had an email from PSN's Murray Horton about her visit to NZ next month to talk about "The US 'war on terror' and its impact on her people". As Murray explains:
Amirah is a young progressive Muslim woman, with a history of senior leadership in the student movement in Manila, and is a leader in groups such as the Moro Christian People's Alliance. She has an international profile. In March 2007 she was part of a Philippine human rights delegation which toured North America and Europe, drawing international attention to the human rights crisis at home.
The Philippine military has been waging a full blown conventional war in the southern Philippines since the 1970s (simultaneous to the better known and equally long war against the Communist guerrillas throughout the whole country). Right now that war is seeing some of its heaviest fighting in decades, with direct involvement from the US Special Forces who have been
stationed in the southern Philippines since 2002. It has had hugely negative consequences for the whole Muslim population in the South (including Amirah and her family) and it has now become part and parcel of Bush's global "War on Terror" against "Islamic terrorists". Indeed, he has proclaimed the Philippines to be "The Second Front" in that war.
Dates: October 23-November 1, 2007

Friday, September 14, 2007

Sison walks free after court order

Filipino political dissident Jose Ma. Sison is out of jail and the Malacañang is far from happy. Dutch authorities set Sison free after a court ordered his release because the case accusing him of involvement in political murders of former colleagues in the Philippines had apparently collapsed. He is another political leader turned into a scapegoat by the US-led "war on terror". But, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing the New People's Army (NPA), isn't off the hook yet.
The District Court of The Hague reportedly hasn't precluded him from being prosecuted on murder charges. Spokesperson Wim de Bruin of the national prosecutor's office told the Inquirer: "The charges are not being dropped. The investigation will continue." The Malacañang is still hoping that the case against the communist leader will proceed.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

NZ snubs final UN indigenous rights declaration

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been adopted at the UN General Assembly by a vote of 143 in favour, 4 against, and 11 abstentions. According to Peace Movement Aotearoa, the Aotearoa/NZ government has "maintained its contradictory and reprehensible position on the Declaration, speaking against it just prior to the vote". NZ was one of the four states which voted against the adoption of the Declaration - Australia, Canada and the US were the others. PMA says: "We will be publishing an update next week on the developments around the Declaration over the past month, including the government's ongoing attempts to derail it and their proposal to substantially alter the text so that it would have given indigenous peoples lesser rights than those of others."
UN News
United Nations adopts Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples
13 September 2007 – The General Assembly today adopted a landmark declaration outlining the rights of the world’s estimated 370 million indigenous people and outlawing discrimination against them – a move that followed more than two decades of debate.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been approved after 143 Member States voted in favour, 11 abstained and four – Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – voted against the text.

A non-binding text, the Declaration sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues.
The Declaration emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.
It also prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them, and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development.

ROSEMARY BANKS (New Zealand), speaking in explanation of vote, noted that New Zealand was one of the few countries that from the start had supported the elaboration of a declaration that promoted and protected the rights of indigenous peoples. In New Zealand, indigenous rights were of profound importance, and were integral to its identity as a nation State and as a people. New Zealand was unique: a treaty concluded at Waitangi between the Crown and New Zealand’s indigenous peoples in 1840 was a founding document of the country. Today, New Zealand had one of the largest and most dynamic indigenous minorities in the world, and the Treaty of Waitangi had acquired great significance in the country’s constitutional
arrangements, law and Government activity.
The place of Maori in society, their grievances and disparities affecting them were central and enduring features of domestic debate and Government action, she said. New Zealand also had an unparalleled system for redress, accepted by both indigenous and non-indigenous citizens alike. Nearly 40 per cent of the New Zealand fishing quota was owned by Maori, as a
result. Claims to over half of New Zealand’s land area had been settled. For that reason, New Zealand fully supported the principles and aspirations of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The country had been implementing most of the standards in the Declaration for many years. She shared the view that the Declaration was long overdue, and the concern that indigenous peoples in many parts of the world continued to be deprived of basic human rights.
New Zealand was proud of its role in improving the text over the past three years, turning the draft into one that States would be able to uphold and promote, she said. It was, therefore, a matter of deep regret that it was unable to support the text before the Assembly today. Unfortunately, New Zealand had difficulties with a number of provisions of the text. In particular, four provisions in the Declaration were fundamentally incompatible with New Zealand’s constitutional and legal arrangements, the Treaty of Waitangi, and the principle of governing for the good of all its citizens, namely article 26 on lands and resources, article 28 onredress, articles 19 and 32 on a right of veto over the State.
The provision on lands and resources could not be implemented in New Zealand, she said. Article 26 stated that indigenous peoples had a right to own, use, develop or control lands and territories that they had traditionally owned, occupied or used. For New Zealand, the entire country was potentially caught within the scope of the article, which appeared to requirerecognition of rights to lands now lawfully owned by other citizens, both indigenous andnon-indigenous, and did not take into account the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the indigenous peoples concerned.

Motigate backfires on Somare

One of Papua New Guinea's National Court judges has described the Julian Moti cover-up saga as a local version of the United States’ Watergate scandal. Attempts to gag the media have backfired. And now PNG's main daily newspaper, Murdoch-owned Post-Courier, has today splashed a front page lead calling for the Chief's resignation. Speaking before quashing Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and three others’ application to nullify the entire proceedings of the PNG Defence Force (PNGDF) Moti Inquiry, Justice Bernard Sakora said on Wednesday their attempts to suppress the inquiry’s proceedings and final report conjured up images of the Watergate scandal. He said the application was only aimed at protecting egos and not in the public interest:

The taking of the defence portfolio by the Prime Minister and the suppression of the report, all conjure up images reminiscent of the Watergate Affair in the United States – those of us who were alive in the 1970's (are familiar with this). The Watergate Affair that led to the resignation of a president of the United States few steps ahead of impeachment. One can’t help but be reminded (that) the whole (Moti) saga is so reminiscent, for those of us who were around in the 1970s.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

And now - a public apology to Ahmed Zaoui?

Finally, some sense in Godzone amidst the "war on terror" madness. After persecuting Ahmed Zaoui and making a mockery of New Zealand's supposed commitment to human rights, the so-called "risk security certificate" against him has been officially withdrawn. Amnesty International (and others) has welcomed the decision announced by the Director of Security to withdraw the certificate against the Algerian refugee, who has long been a cause celebre for many of us. He has even been an occasional, and charming, guest lecturer for student journos at AUT's j school. And what a breath of fresh air in these paranoid times. This decision makes it clear that a substantial threat to New Zealand's security must exist before the human right to asylum from persecution is ignored.
The decision comes almost five years after Ahmed Zaoui arrived in New Zealand and four years after the Refugee Status Appeals Authority concluded that he should be granted asylum following his experiences in Algeria and in exile. Says Amnesty International's executive director in NZ:
The Ahmed Zaoui case has highlighted the fragility of our commitment as a country to basic human rights. Too many New Zealanders, including members of Parliament who should be more aware than most of the importance of human rights, were content to ignore the August 2003 decision of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority and condemn Mr Zaoui without access to the facts.
Too many were prepared to make cheap jibes about how a survivor of torture who had been in enforced exile for a decade and kept for 10 months in solitary confinement in a New Zealand prison was "abusing New Zealand hospitality", "costing the taxpayers too much", and was "free to jump on a plane at any time". Mr Zaoui's counsel has had to fight summary justice all the way.
An apology is now due to Ahmed Zaoui for New Zealand's poor handling of his case. And his family should be able to join him at the earliest opportunity, as called for by UNHCR. As Selwyn Manning said on KiwiFM, the five-year struggle for justice for Ahmed Zaoui as a refugee revealed the ugly side of NZ.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sidestepping the cycle of vengeance in Fiji?

University of the South Pacific's Steve Ratuva, one of the most perceptive and robust analysts of post-coup Fiji - streets ahead than most of the journos in the region, has a prescription for a way forward out of the mess. The following is an extract from his state of play article in the Fiji Times:
Firstly, we have to shift our minds away from the narrow, exclusivist, partisan and self-serving political agenda and begin to see the interest of the nation as paramount. That is the bottom line.
We all have our party, religious, organisational, vanua and personal loyalties and interests, however, at this point in time, these should be subservient to the common national good. Despite official optimism, our economy is not doing well, investor confidence is down, socio-political relations are at their lowest and national moral is in tatters.
Yet despite all these we are still trying to win political and moral points over our adversaries as if that will solve our collective problems when the opposite is in fact happening.
Secondly, on a more practical note, we need to identify the good suggestions from both sides and synthesise them into a common proposal for national reconciliation. Both the proposed People's Charter and Ratu Inoke's proposal contain points worth considering and discussing.
Thirdly, we urgently need to put in place a reconciliation process as well as a framework for political stability for the future before the election. To do that after the election, although constitutionally legitimate, would be politically too late. Since the hurt and pain are very deeply embedded, the election could become an arena for expressions of anger, vindictivenessand vengeance and these have the potential to rear their ugly heads again after the election.
Historically, political instabilities in Fiji have only happened after elections. The pre-election differences, antagonism and volatility will haunt us once again after the next election if we are not careful. That's why it is important to put in place a reconciliation and post-election governance framework we all agree on well before the election.
- Fiji Times photo with Ratuva article

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Tongan pro-democracy MPs still face sedition charges

First the good news: Charges against Tonga's five People's Representatives accused over last November's rioting in Nukualofa, Tonga, have been cut back. The bad news? The outspoken MPs are still the Tongan establishment's main scapegoats for the rioting. They're now still facing one charge of sedition each. Chief Justice Anthony Ford has announced the drop of some charges in the Supreme Court.
According to Matangi Tonga, pro-democracy advocates 'Akilisi Pohiva, 'Isileli Pulu, Clive Edwards, 'Uliti Uata and Lepolo Taunisila, first appeared in the Nuku'alofa Supreme Court on July 18 and were charged with one count of sedition and six counts of abetment to cause disruption resulting in the destruction of six different premises, including the Molisi Tonga Supermarket, Pacific Royale Hotel, Tungi Arcade, Shoreline Building, Fung Shing Supermarket and the Leiola Duty Free Shop in the November 16 riot.
Chief Justice Ford told the court that it had received notice two days ago that Crown Law intended to withdraw the previous indictments and file new indictments of sedition only against each accused. All five accused were all present in court, pleading not guilty. Pictured: Scoop photo of 'Akilisi Pohiva

Friday, September 7, 2007

Roll on the banana republic!

So with another dose of martial law in Fiji, is the commodore finally losing the plot? Unsurprisingly, the Auckland-based Coalition for Democracy in Fiji (CDF) has condemned the reintroduction of the emergency regulations. Auckland-based spokesman Nik Naidu says:
Bainimarama and his band of merry men have now confirmed beyond any doubt of Fiji's status as a banana republic.
Until now, the people of Fiji lived in hope that the Fiji Military and it supporters and apologists were genuinely interested in helping move the country forward.
This latest action by the military and its installed puppet government leaves no doubt that they are only interested in keeping themselves in power.

People should be allowed to voice their opinions freely and not be held hostage by the gun.
The only positive way forward for Fiji is for all leaders (political, communal, military, business and religious) to work together and find common ground. By rejecting or ignoring certain factions or sectors will only delay a feasible solution to Fiji's problems.
It is the time for negotiations to start, goodwill to prevail, and a return to democracy.

The Coalition dor Democracy has called on the Fiji military to respect the rule of law and to follow constitutional processes to help resolve issues and disagreements.
The CDF is a group made up of former Fiji residents, and concerned New Zealanders. It has been active since 1987 in support of the fight for the rights of Fiji people and Fiji democracy.
Contact Nik Naidu.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Justice for the abduction and torture of Anirudh Singh

Back in 1990, I wrote a series of news features about the case of Fiji academic Dr Anirudh Singh - his brutal abduction and torture by special forces soldiers in the post-Rabuka coups climate of oppression. One of my stories in the old Auckland Star stirred the wrath of then "Disinformation" Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola. So I am pleased to see Anirudh finally get justice 17 years on. The High Court has awarded university lecturer Anirudh some $400,000 and five per cent interest for compensation for the abduction and torture. According to the Fiji Times, this would reach a total of $793,022.63 if interest is calculated for every 14 years as the judgment suggests.
High Court Judge Justice Roger Coventry also ruled that the Attorney General as sixth defendant be liable to payout $250,000 plus five per cent interest.
The army officers whom Justice Coventry had previously found to be represented by the Attorney General have been ordered to pay Anirudh a further $150,000 plus five per cent interest.
University of the South Pacific academic Anirudh, an outspoken campaigner for human rights, was abducted from his home in Rewa Street, Suva, by five soldiers from the Special Operations Security Unit and taken to the forests of Colo-i-Suva where he was hooded, beaten up and tortured.
The five soldiers involved, including former Special Air Services officer Captain Sotia Ponijese, pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 12 months in jail. In 1993 Dr Singh took the case to the High Court claiming general, special and exemplary damages for his pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
Ironically, the judgment came on the same day that the current regime in Fiji reimposed its state of emergency and a further clamp on free speech!
Inset: Auckland Star clipping of one of my stories about the abduction and torture of Anirudh Singh, 17 December 1990.

High Court awards $400,000 plus to Dr Singh
Keep quiet, Qarase told

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Global search for the BOBS - best blogs!

I've had some positive feedback from Vincent Brossel of RSF in Paris about Cafe Pacific. Good one. Thanks. And a word about RSF's partnership with Germany's public broadcaster Deutsche Welle in the annual search for the best blogs. Some of those bloggers that stirred up recent strife with Fiji's military regime should have a shot. “BOBs - Best of the Blogs” is running for the fourth year running.
What are The BOBs?
For the next four weeks, internet users are invited to go to to nominate the best blogs in 15 categories. The competition is open to blogs, podcasts and videoblogs in the following 10 languages - Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, Farsi, French, German, Portugese, Russian and Spanish.
The BOBs are the world’s biggest international blog awards and offer a broad overview of the blogosphere, the rapidly evolving world of weblogs, videoblogs and podcasts. The winners are chosen by the public and a jury. Last year, more than 5,500 blogs were nominated and more than 100,000 Internet users took part in the online voting.

All bloggers and blog fans can go to the BOBs website until 30 September to nominate their favourite blogs. An international jury of journalists, media specialists and bloggers will then choose a shortlist of finalists. The winners will be determined by a combination of online voting from 23 October to 15 November and jury decision.

Good luck bloggers!

More detail on The Bobs website or at Deutsche Welle.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Poroporoaki - veteran Māori activist Syd Jackson dies

Syd Jackson, one of Aotearoa/New Zealand's leading political activists and Radio Waatea's Liberation Talkback host, has died after four decades of campaigning against injustice. Maori Party co-leaders Dr Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia delivered this poroporoaki:
Tariana Turia: A true agent of transformation has left us. Syd has lived his life with a totally unswerving commitment to revolution.
Some forty years ago in 1968, it was Syd, the son of the 1937 All Black and Māori Battalion veteran Everard Jackson, who challenged the Federation of New Zealand Māori Students that All Black tours to South Africa should be opposed as a stand against apartheid.
His leadership of Ngā Tamatoa in the 1970s, and their staunch advocacy of Brown Power, laid the foundation for a dynamic period of Māori renaissance. Syd Jackson was the former president of the Auckland Maori Students Union and activist group Nga Tamatoa.
Pita Sharples: We think of the inspiration of Syd in firmly placing Te Tiriti o Waitangi on the political agenda in all spheres. He spearheaded the drive for learning te reo Māori, bringing social awareness to the marginalisation of Māori in New Zealand while at the same time being such a proud advocate of tino rangatiratanga.
Syd has made an enormous political impact on Aotearoa, particularly through his role in the union movement. He had the keen intellect to grasp complex issues, a quality which you would see coming through in campaigns such as encouraging Libya to boycott trade with New Zealand, or protesting against APEC.
In more recent years, he brought that same passion and zeal to the health movement, establishing Turuki Healthcare as a pioneering organisation to deliver affordable and accessible healthcare for the people of South Auckland.

Syd Jackson was also chairperson of Te Kupenga o Hoturoa - the first Māori sponsored PHO; and a director of Te Roopu Huihuinga Hauora.
Turia: The tragic irony is that right up until the end, Syd pursued his crusade against cancer not just for his own powerful determination to live but also to argue for the rights for all Māori cancer sufferers.
Syd will be very, very sadly missed. His Liberation Talkback radioshow gave us all heart to act, to take a stand, to look after our people.
Our love and compassion goes to his darling Deirdre, the Jackson whānau, Ngāti Kahunungu and Ngāti Porou who have shared a remarkable man with us - a man who truly dedicated his life to staying true to the kaupapa, to tino rangatiratanga. His legacy has been and will continue to be profound.
Pictured: Titewhai Harawira, Mangere kura kaupapa school principal Jim Perry and Syd Jackson

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Sison supporters accuse Dutch authorities

The International Committee Defend is accusing Dutch authorities of "torturing" CPP founder Jose Maria Sison and violating his civil rights. The committee's statement:

1 September 2007

(Utrecht, The Netherlands). The Dutch government is torturing Prof. Jose Ma. Sison. Thus stressed the International Committee Defend, after learning from Professor Sison's lawyer, Michiel Pestman, that he is being kept in solitary confinement, denied visits from his wife, denied warm clothing, denied access to his medicines and access to his own doctor, denied access to newspapers and TV.
Julie De Lima, wife of Professor Sison, tried to see him last Thursday but was denied to see him. She said she also brought some medicines and warm clothes, but prison authorities said these were not allowed.
Professor Sison is being detained at the National Penitentiary in Scheveningen, a facility with was used by the Nazi's during World War II to imprison and torture Dutch resistance fighters. Committee Defend also said despite the weak evidence presented by the Dutch prosecutor in yesterday's remand hearing in The Hague , the Dutch judge extended the detention of Professor Sison to 14 more days.
Another hearing to examine the evidence has been set on Sept. 7. Committee Defend strongly condemned the torture being done to Professor Sison by the Dutch government and reiterated what it declared in an earlier statement that it will hold the Dutch
government responsible for any harm done to Professor Sison, including another possible kidnapping to bring him to a country outside the Netherlands. It also called on the Dutch government to end Sison's solitary confinement, allow visits from his wife, and access to his medicines and other basic necessities.
"What they are doing to Professor Sison, the way they treat him, violates his basic rights. He is still in the stage of being heard and investigated. What happened to the Dutch government's adherence to basic human rights?" said Dr. Jun Saturay of Committee Defend.
During the hearing yesterday at the Palace of Justice in the Hague, dozens of solidarity activists rallied outside the gates of the Justice building. They carried posters and shouted "Free Jose Maria Sison, now!". They sang songs and recited poems. Several Dutch and international media covered the rally.
"The persecution of Sison through the use of the judicial processes exposes the rottenness and corruption of the Dutch justice and political system," stressed W. Wijk, during a speech at the rally. He told Filipinos present that the fight for the rights and life of Professor Sison is also a fight of all freedom-loving and reasonable Dutch citizens.
The solidarity activists vowed to continue protest actions in support of Professor Sison and said they will rally again on Sept. 7, Sison's next hearing.

International Committee DEFEND

Analysis of state terrorism against Filipinos - background to the arrest

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Sasako's message for Moti - face the music!

Former journo and ex-MP Alfred Sasako has now weighed in over the Moti affair. And there's no doubt in his mind - Attorney-General Julian Moti (pictured) and his backers have misled the Solomon Islands and PNG governments over the status of his controversial child sex case in Vanuatu. It's still open before the Vanuatu Supreme Court, says the scribe based on his own inquiry. Sasako reckons constitutional lawyer Moti should come clean and return to Vanuatu to face the music before taking up the Solomon Islands post. But then Sasako has always been cosy with Canberra. He says:
So whose story should Solomon Islands ordinary citizens believe – Moti’s or the Registrar of Vanuatu Supreme Court? The credibility of the two men is at stake. You be the judge.
For me, enough is enough. It is important Moti clears his good name before holding the nation’s top legal post. He has nothing to lose if he has nothing to hide. Let’s get out of pushing ourselves on to the listing of the laughing stock nations of the world in this mad case controversy. It is total madness to continue with it.

The suggestion that Solomon Islands should take the matter to the International Court of Justice is just as laughable as it is unbelievable. Gee, there must be something in Moti most Solomon Islanders don’t seem to see that we are prepared to throw in every ounce of the nation’s resources to back the man up all the way to The Hague?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

CPP leader Joma Sison arrested in shock move

The globalised war on terror is striking at any progressive forces on a variety of pretexts. This from Karapatan on the "political" arrest of exiled Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in his "safe haven" in the Netherlands.

>>> Video newsfeed

Sison lawyer, Dutch authorities confirm CPP founder's arrest

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez, Thea Alberto
Last updated 09:14pm (Mla time) 08/28/2007

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE 2) A lawyer of Jose Ma. Sison in The Netherlands and Dutch authorities have confirmed the arrest of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Tuesday.

"The communist leader was suspected of giving orders, from the
Netherlands, to murder his former political associates in the
Philippines, Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara," the Dutch national
prosecutor's office said in a statement quoted in an Agence
France-Presse report.

Kintanar and Tabara led a faction of the CPP that broke away from the
party in the early 1990s. They were subsequently assassinated by the
New People's Army, the CPP's armed wing.

Lawyer Jose Jalandoni, son of National Democratic Front (NDF) chief
peace negotiator Luis Jalandoni, said he was on his way to see his
client but could not confirm if the arrest of Sison was related to the
murder charges filed against the CPP founder in the Philippines.

However, Jalandoni said he did not know of any murder charges Sison is facing in The Netherlands, where the CPP founder has been living in exile since 1987.

In a separate phone interview, one of the lawyers helping work for the resumption of peace talks between the government and NDF said a judge and policemen went to Sison's house in the town of Utrecht to interrogate him.

The lawyer then said Sison was brought to The Hague, the Dutch capital.

The negotiations have been stalled for around three years because of
the inclusion of the CPP, NPA and Sison in the terror lists of the
United States, European Union and other countries.

Carl Ala, spokesman of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP,
Peasant Movement of the Philippines) said Sison could be held for
three to as long as 105 days on charges of "multiple murders and for
calling for more murders."

Police also reportedly raided Sison's office in Utrecht and seized all computers, said Ala.

"They are really intensifying the attacks on progressive forces," said
Ala in a text message.

Renato Reyes, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan, New Patriotic
Alliance) secretary general said Sison's arrest showed that the
government was not interested in pushing through with the stalled
peace talks.

"This bodes ill for the peace process. The arrest was most probably
undertaken with the knowledge and prodding of the Arroyo government
who is out to sabotage all hopes for peace talks," said Reyes.

Originally posted at 8:13 pm

Roger Award search opens for 'worst transnational'

Roger Award nominations for the "worst transnational corporation" operating in New Zealand are now open, announces CAFCA. The Roger Award has run annually since 1997. No prizes for guessing whom it is named after. It's organised by CAFCA and GATT Watchdog, both Christchurch-based groups, who rotate the annual organisation.

New this year is an Accomplice Award. Criteria, other details and the nomination form are available on the CAFCA website in Word (52 KB) or PDF format (65KB).

The judges for 2007 are: Laila Harre, from Auckland, National Secretary of the National Distribution Union and former Cabinet Minister; Anton Oliver, from Otago, All Black and environmentalist; Geoff Bertram, from Wellington, a Victoria University economist; Brian Turner, from Christchurch, President-Elect of the Methodist Church and social justice activist; Paul Corliss, from Christchurch, a life member of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union; and Cee Payne-Harker, from Dunedin, Industrial Services Manager for the NZ Nurses’ Organisation and health issues activist. They will be given a shortlist of finalists. The winner(s) will be announced in early 2008 at an event in Christchurch. Previous winners:

Progressive Enterprises (2006)
Bank of New Zealand and Westpac (2005)
Telecom (2004)
Juken Nissho (2003)
Tranz Rail (2002)
Carter Holt Harvey (2001)
Tranz Rail (2000)
TransAlta (1999)
Monsanto (1998)
Tranz Rail (1997)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Carol Archie poses challenges over cross-cultural reporting

Broadcaster and journalist Carol Archie posed some major challenges for the mainstream media about reporting Māori and current affairs at the launch of her new book, Pou Kōrero, at AUT University's marae today. She reckons Māori affairs reporters are being "dumped on" by their news organisations - expected to know everything and do everything Māori. She says it's time to break away from "specialist Māori reporting" - Māori affairs reporting should be carried out by all reporters, not just those who are Māori or specialise in Māori issues. Carol says all journalists have a responsibility to foster "a media of inclusiveness" to help New Zealanders develop their sense of identity. Launching the book, AUT Chancellor Sir Paul Reeves said terms such as "biculturalism" and "multiculturalism" promised much but fell short on delivery. But he added Pou Kōrero was an important contribution to cultural understanding and reporting. Carol describes the book as a "broader" version of Kawe Kōrero, originally written by Michael King and first published more than 20 years ago. Pou Kōrero is published by the NZ Journalists Training Organisation and the launching was hosted by AUT's Pacific Media Centre. While AUT has a proud record on diversity and cultural issues (it's the university whose student body most nearly matches the nation's ethnic mix), it wasn't a good look for the School of Communication Studies j-programme - the launch was only attended by two out of the eight journalism teaching staff! Diversity should start at home.
Photo by Del Abcede

Fiji chief out of prison, seeks reconciliation
Solomons warlord acquitted of murders

Saturday, August 25, 2007

PIAF swipes at Pacific Aids misinformation

PIAF is annoyed over yet another batch of emailed sensationalised misinformation doing the media rounds across the Pacific at the moment. It has sent out its own reminders about the media HIV/Aids code worked out at a regional health seminar in Fiji in 2002. I'm posting it here as a catch up call. As a preamble, the journos from 13 South Pacific nations taking part at that Suva conference stated: "We express concern about the rise of HIV/Aids in our respective countries. Moreover, we find this a difficult disease to report and ask our editorial staff for clear guidelines on the topic. We offer the following suggestions:"

  • Confidentiality surrounding news items on HIV/Aids should be maintained at all times. Therefore no names or addresses should be mentioned.
  • The use of responsible language that reflects a fair and accurate account of the current situation. Past experience has shown that sensational stories on HIV/Aids distort the situation and only increase stigma and fear among readers, listeners and viewers.
  • Terms such as 'victim' and 'sufferer' need to be dropped and replaced by 'people living with HIV/AIDS'. This gives the story a more positive tone.
  • It is unhelpful to focus only on the latest figures for HIV/Aids. Often they are inaccurate and misleading. They provide a false sense of security and can promote complacency.
  • Concentrate more on people living positively with the virus. Let them tell their story. This puts a human face on the story. This has proved far more effective in educating people.
  • It is vital to include more news items on how to prevent infection and to highlight risk behaviour rather than just risk groups.
  • Partnerships need to be developed between media representatives, NGOs and local organisations in the South Pacific in regard to HIV/Aids. Joining the email forum, AIDSTOK, is a practical way to discuss issues relevant to HIV/Aids.
  • Encourage journalists to attend in-country training courses or workshops on HIV/Aids and other related health issues.
  • Where possible, designate a journalist to work full-time on health stories and introduce a health page. Research in the Pacific has shown that when these two conditions exist, there is broader and more consistent reporting on health issues.
  • Media organizations need to acknowledge and address the increasing threat posed to young people by HIV/Aids.
  • Publish a correction for any story on HIV/Aids that is found to be seriously inaccurate and offensive.
  • All media should encourage greater partnership with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and stress the need to include a media component in their workshops, training and National Aids Councils.

    Thanks to Zoe Bake-Paterson at PIAF:

PNG Aids victims 'buried alive'

Worth a look: Whenua, fenua, enua, vanua - revolutionary anti-colonialism and anti-capitalism in the Pacific.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fiji's 'media cartel' on the mat

What a contrast between the open debate at "OurMedia" summit in New Zealand and the Fiji media. Fiji Media Council Daryl Tarte and his "media cartel", as Laminar Flow likes to brand them, have bunkered down in the face of the Human Rights Commission's inquiry into "media freedom and independence". The commission claimed the media wouldn't take part, a claim then denied by the media quartet - Communications Fiji, Fiji Sun, Fiji Television and the Fiji Times. Not convincing for many among the public. So it remains to be seen how investigator Dr James Anthony, of Hawaii, a onetime political adviser to the first Labour PM, Dr Timoci Bavadra, will get on. It isn't surprising that the local media is so defensive about how it operates. It has always been on the back foot when it comes to discussing media's role in society. And journalists themselves don't have the avenues for "making a noise", as media critic Judy McGregor suggested at OurMedia summit - as they would in New Zealand or many other countries. The first lesson is that freedom of the press is actually on behalf of citizens, not a corporate or business right. But that often isn't the reality. A. J. Liebling summed this up rather well. He once said: "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one." Many quote him as saying media freedom is "limited" to press owners. However, freedom of the press also means freedom to put the media itself under an uncomfortable spotlight! I remember too well the hamfisted attempts by industry personalities to gag me when I critiqued media coverage in the aftermath of George Speight's 2000 coup. Over time those public record criticisms have been shown to be an accurate account (read the published paper in early 2001). But the real question is: Will an "inquiry" by a commission that has shown itself to be so partisan in support of the regime carry any weight?

Fiji media inquiry hots up - PMW feedback

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