Saturday, December 12, 2015

#COP21: Global climate deal shows end of fossil fuels is near - but injustice is still ingrained

Greenpeace activists create a solar symbol around a world-famous Paris landmark, the Arc de Triomphe.
© Greenpeace
OPINION: By Kumi Naidoo in Paris
THE WHEEL of climate action turns slowly, but in Paris it has turned. There’s much in this deal - the so-called Paris Agreement -  that frustrates and disappoints me, but it still puts the fossil fuel industry squarely on the wrong side of history.

Parts of this deal have been diluted and polluted by the people who despoil our planet, but it contains a new temperature limit of less than 2C degrees.

That single number, and the new goal of net zero emissions by the second half of this century, will cause consternation in the boardrooms of coal companies and the palaces of oil-exporting states and that is a very good thing. The transition away from fossil fuels is inevitable.

Now comes our great task of this century. How do we meet this new goal?

The measures outlined simply do not get us there. When it comes to forcing real, meaningful action, Paris fails to meet the moment.

We have a 1.5 degree wall to climb, but the ladder isn’t long enough. The emissions targets outlined in this agreement are simply not big enough to get us to where we need to be.

Friday, December 11, 2015

#COP21: '1.5 to stay alive', historic climate deal but not good for the Pacific

A creative Fijian response to COP21 ... "no more Facebook. No more rugby ... and we're no more!'

From Pacific Media Watch:

By Makereta Komai, editor of Pacnews, in Paris

THE three major oil and gas economies - Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela - have emerged as the main stumbling block to the push by Pacific and Small Island Developing States to limit global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius at the climate negotiations in Paris.

Climate Action Network, an association of more than 100 powerful civil society groups around the world that follow the negotiations, said the three countries refused to shift their positions, citing their own vulnerabilities.
 BREAKING NEWS: Historic deal praised – but criticised by Pacific commentators
    Pacific commentators were quick to criticise the 31-page pact dubbed the “Paris Agreement” with Fiji-based Islands Business editor Samisoni Pareti tweeting from Paris: “Not a good deal ... 2 watered down, no below 1.5, no loss n (sic) damage, God save the Pacific!"

“As you can understand the economies of Russia, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia are dependent on fossils. Clearly what the small islands are asking for – to phase out oil and gas will affect their economies big time," said Martin Kaiser of Greenpeace.

Saudi Arabia argued that, like the small islands, it is also faced with extreme weather events like flooding, heat waves and drought.

“The small and vulnerable nations have stood their ground of 1.5 degrees in the negotiations despite the attacks by Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela," said Kaiser.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Beirut and Paris: Two terror attacks with different tales

Mourners at the Auckland, New Zealand, vigil for Paris at the weekend. Photo: David Robie
By Belen Fernandez

AS NEWS arrived of terror attacks in Paris that ultimately left more than 120 people dead, US President Barack Obama characterised the situation as “heartbreaking” and an assault “on all of humanity.”

But his presidential sympathy was conspicuously absent the previous day when terror attacks in Beirut left more than 40 dead. Predictably, Western media and social media were much less vocal about the slaughter in Lebanon.

The Independent's weekend front page, UK.
And while many of us are presumably aware, to some degree, of the discrepancy in value assigned to people's lives on the basis of nationality and other factors, the back-to-back massacres in Beirut and Paris served to illustrate without a doubt the fact that, when it comes down to it, “all of humanity” doesn't necessarily qualify as human.

Of course, there's more to the story than the relative dehumanisation of the Lebanese as compared with their French counterparts. There's also the prevailing notion in the West that — as far as bombs, explosions, and killings go — Lebanon is simply One of Those Places Where Such Things Happen.

The same goes for places like Iraq, to an even greater extent, which is part of the reason we don't see Obama mourning attacks on all of humanity every time he reads the news out of Baghdad.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The digital media revolution, a free press and student journalism

Keynote speaker and former University of the South Pacific Journalism Programme head Professor David Robie with the FALE Storyboard Award winner for best regional reporting, ‘Ana Uili. David and his wife, Del, donated this West Sepik storyboard for the awards. Photo: Lowen Sei/USP
Professor David Robie's speech at the University of the South Pacific 21st Anniversary Journalism Awards on 30 October 2015:

Kia ora tatou and ni sa bula vinaka,

FIRSTLY, I wish to acknowledge the people of Fiji for returning this wonderful country to democracy last year, and also to the University of the South Pacific and Dr Shailendra Singh and his team for inviting me here to speak at this 21st Anniversary Journalism Awards event.

[Acknowledgements to various university and media VIPs]

As I started off these awards here at the University of the South Pacific in 1999 during an incredibly interesting and challenging time, it is a great honour to return for this event marking the 21st anniversary of the founding of the regional Pacific journalism programme.

Thus it is also an honour to be sharing the event with Monsieur Michel Djokovic, the Ambassador of France given how important French aid has been for this programme.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Nuclear free: Now solved - the mystery of this ni-Vanuatu girl from 1983

THIS GIRL is featured on the front cover of David Robie's 2014 book - Don't Spoil My Beautiful Face: Media, Mayhem and Human Rights in the Pacific (Little Island Press). It was taken in 1983 at Independence Park, Port Vila, Vanuatu, during the Nuclear-Free and Independent Pacific conference.

She also appears in a Hawai'an Voice video version of the song Nuclear Free (at 1min08sec) by Huarere. I would love to know who she is and where she is today.

Perhaps she is in her late 30s today?

If anybody has any information about her identity and where she might be now, please email David Robie.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

INFOCORE sets pace on global violent conflict media research project

Pacific Media Centre director David Robie at the INFOCORE stakeholders workshop in Brussels, Belgium.
Image: PMC
IT was a privilege for the Pacific Media Centre to be among the 27 global stakeholders involved in a progress feedback workshop for the European Union-funded €2.5 million violent conflict research project dubbed INFOCORE in Brussels last weekend.

Other stakeholders included the AFP Foundation, Deutsche Welle news agency, European Broadcasting Union, France 24, Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD), Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Internews Europe, Journaliste en Danger, Thomson Reuters Foundation, UNESCO Chair in Communication for Social Change and Media, War and Conflict journal. 

The two-day event was hosted by another stakeholder, Press Club Brussels Europe, at its friendly offices in Rue Froissart, Schuman, decorated with a range of political cartoons from Europe’s finest cartoonists.

INFOCORE stands for (In)forming Conflict Prevention, Response and Resolution: The role of the media in violent conflict.

The research mission is to provide a “systematically comparative assessment of various kinds of media, interacting with a wide range of relevant actors and producing diverse kinds of conflict coverage,” as the INFOCORE website describes it.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

From 'reality' TV to the reality of documentary making - the new civic impulse

Tame Iti featured on the cover of the latest Pacific Journalism Review. Image: Jos Wheeler/The Price of Peace
THE RISE of popular factual television has threatened the key claim on “reality” of documentary practice but there is hope on the horizon in the post-documentary era, says Pacific Journalism Review in the latest edition published this week.

The October edition examines the state of documentary practice in the Asia-Pacific region and also profiles the work of many contemporary filmmakers.

“Documentary programmes on broadcast television have been progressively replaced by lavish series, formulaic docu-soaps or reality TV,” writes edition co-editor Professor Barry King in his editorial.

He adds that a “troubling implication is that post-documentary forms threaten the legitimacy and credibility of the documentary tradition as a whole.”

King notes that one symptom of this “tangible appetite can be found in the rise of citizen journalism, which, however evaluated, still answers to civic impulse”. The surveillance of authorities also boosted this eyewitness function.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Bikini bombs lawsuit inspires support at NZ peace action conference

Roskill MP and opposition Labour spokesperson on disarmament Phil Goff speaking
at the World Without War conference in Auckland today. Image: Del Abcede
BEFORE Parisian car engineer turned-designer Louis Réard named the sexy two-piece swimsuit he created a “bikini” in 1946, it was the name of an obscure Pacific atoll in the Marshall Islands, lost among more than 1100 islets in the trust territory, now an independent republic.

And Bikini Atoll was the Ground Zero for 23 US nuclear tests in the Pacific – out of some 67 conducted over the next dozen years in the Marshall Islands. (Excellent background on this in Giff Johnson's Don't Ever Whisper).

Last year the little republic filed a controversial lawsuit in the International Court of Justice at The Hague against Washington and the eight other nuclear powers – Britain, China, France, India, Israel (although it denies possessing a nuclear arsenal), North Korea, Pakistan and Russia.

The Marshall Islands accuses the nuclear club members of “violating their duty” to negotiate in good faith for the elimination of these weapons.

Now, over this weekend in New Zealand, some 200 people have participated in a World Without War conference drawing up a list for proposed action for peace and the Marshall Islands action came in for some strong support from several speakers.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

'World Without War' - and a conference to help make it happen?

MORE than 40 people with wide-ranging expertise will pool their knowledge and ideas and propose an action plan for peace at a two-day conference this weekend at Auckland University of Technology.

As Peace Foundation president Dr John Hinchcliff says in the above video interview with Pacific Media Watch's Alistar Kata: “The world is facing a grim future in many directions, in not just nuclear weapons.”

The idea is for people share their knowledge as the basis for understanding the global threats and developing realistic action that might make a difference.

According to the World Without War action website, participants include "senior academics from AUT, the University of Auckland and Waikato University, experts against violence and war from Sweden and New Zealand, critics concerned about high tech weaponry, leaders representing our youth, the United Nations, Māoridom, education and religions."

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Rainbow Warrior bombing should have led to French Watergate

Fernando Pereira going ashore at Rongelap Atoll in May 1985. Photo: © David Robie
ANALYSIS By David Robie

THE unmasked French bomber who sank the Rainbow Warrior 30 years ago had some revealing comments during his interviews with the investigative website Mediapart and TVNZ’s Sunday programme, none more telling than “the first bomb was too powerful, it should have ended as a Watergate" for French President François Mitterrand”.

"The last secret of the Greenpeace affair" proclaims
the French investigative website Mediapart.

Mitterrand stayed in office for 14 years - a decade after the bombing and before he finally stepped down when his second presidential term ended in May 1995, the year that nuclear tests ended.

The bomber, retired colonel Jean-Luc Kister, added that had Operation Satanique involved the United States, “more heads would have rolled”.

But while the “innocent death” of Portuguese-born Dutch photographer Fernando Pereira has clearly played on his conscience for all these years, Kister’s sincere apology wasn’t without a hint of trying to rewrite history.

The claim that the secret sabotage operation never meant to kill anybody is unconvincing for anybody on board the Rainbow Warrior on that tragic night of 10 July 1985 when New Zealand lost its political innocence and the crew lost a dear friend.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

About rainbows, warriors and ship naming

The original Rainbow Warrior leaving London on her maiden voyage in early 1978
just months after being renamed from the Sir William Hardy. She was refitted as a sailing vessel
for her Pacific voyage in 1985. Photo: Greenpeace
WHEN the 30th anniversary edition of my book Eyes of Fire (Little Island Press) was published on the day last month marking the bombing of the original Rainbow Warrior on 10 July 1985, Susi Newborn questioned my account of the naming of the Greenpeace environmental flagship. She was involved in the buying of the Aberdeen-built fishing trawler Sir William Hardy that was then renamed as the Rainbow Warrior

In the interests of historical accuracy, I have thus double-checked my sources for the book, including interviewing some of those involved at the time. I am quite satisfied there was no major inaccuracy in that section of my book comprising two paragraphs.

There was only a minor one which I am revising in future copies thanks to modern printing-on-demand technology. The decision to rename the rusty old ship Greenpeace UK had just bought was a collective one, taken in October or November 1977 at a small meeting on board the vessel in West India Dock, London, following a proposal made in writing a few weeks before by Rémi Parmentier to dub her Warrior of the Rainbow.

Those present at that meeting were Denise Bell, Charles Hutchinson, David McTaggart, Susi Newborn, Rémi Parmentier and Allan Thornton. Parmentier had first heard of the Rainbow Warrior Native American legend from a fellow called Georges Devez who had worked with him for some time in 1977-78.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

'TPPA - walk away' rally welcomes West Papuan leader Octo Mote

Visiting West Papuan leader Octo Mote at the Auckland rally against the controversial
Trans-Pacific Partnership “trade” negotiations. Photo: Del Abcede/PMC
WHILE New Zealand protesters were giving an emphatic thumbs down to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership corporate slap in the face of democracy at the weekend, a quietly spoken West Papuan in a yellow raincoat was offering solidarity at the Auckland march.

Octo Mote, a former journalist and now secretary-general of the United Liberation Front of West Papua, was in town to spread the good news of West Papuan strategic self-determination developments to activists and supporters.

He spoke at a packed public meeting in the Peace Place on Friday night less than 24 hours after talking to students at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji before taking part in the anti-TPP/TPPA rally.

Rally organiser Barry Coates introduced Mote to the crowd outside the US Consulate-General.

Apart from welcoming Vanuatu’s initiative to press for a United Nations special envoy on West Papua, and the Solomon Islands decision to appoint a special envoy, Mote was positively upbeat about the upsurge in Pacific regional support for the West Papuan human rights cause.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Rainbow Warrior ... launch of the new 'last voyage' and bombing book

DELAYED video of last month's launch of David Robie’s new Eyes of Fire edition about the last voyage and the bombing of the original Rainbow Warrior, marking the 30th anniversary of the sabotage in New Zealand.

This fifth edition (following two others in New Zealand and one each in the United States and United Kingdom) tells the story of the voyage of the first Rainbow Warrior, a Greenpeace vessel protesting against nuclear testing in the South Pacific, to Rongelap Atoll and the Marshall Islands.

Coinciding with the anniversary of the bombing by French secret agents on 10 July 1985, the launch brought together many of those who had been involved with the vessel over the years, including chief engineer Davey Edward, now head of the Greenpeace global fleet, who travelled out from the Netherlands for the reunion.

The 'sanitised narrative' of Hiroshima's atomic bombing

Reproduction of The Hiroshima Panels (原爆の図) by Maruki Iri and Maruki Toshi,
displayed at Higashi Honganji Temple Gallery, Kyoto. Photo: Nevin Thompson.
By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes of BBC News

The United States has always insisted that the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were necessary to end World War Two. But it is a narrative that has little emphasis on the terrible human cost.

I met a remarkable young man in Hiroshima the other day. His name is Jamal Maddox and he is a student at Princeton University in America. Jamal had just toured the peace museum and met with an elderly hibakusha, a survivor of the bombing.

One of the few structures left standing in Hiroshima,
the Prefectural Industry Promotion Building.
It is now the A-Bomb Dome memorial. Photo: BBC
Standing near the famous A-Bomb Dome, I asked Jamal whether his visit to Hiroshima had changed the way he views America's use of the atom bomb on the city 70 years ago. He considered the question for a long time.

"It's a difficult question," he finally said. "I think we as a society need to revisit this point in history and ask ourselves how America came to a point where it was okay to destroy entire cities, to firebomb entire cities.

"I think that's what's really necessary if we are going to really make sense of what happened on that day."

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Zinedine Zidane scores wonder try for France legends against Toulon

                                                                     Zinedine's wonder try.

By Jack Gaughan for MailOnline

FRANCE 98 victors have taken on European rugby union champions Toulon in a charity match - with World Cup star Zinedine Zidane scoring a stunning try from his own half.

The two sides played 45 minutes of football and then rugby at the Toulon stadium headquarters on Tuesday.
Christian Karembeu popped a three-metre pass off to Zinedine Zidane on halfway and the mercurial Frenchman looked up and saw a miniscule gap in which to drive towards.

He dropped a shoulder, weaved in between two defenders and from there, just inside the opposition half, space opened up.

Two more trailed in his wake as 43-year-old Zidane moved through the gears, accelerating beyond them before nonchalantly checking back to see if they were giving chase.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

NZ documentary exposes litany of state injustices against the Tūhoe, but also offers hope

Pacific Media Watch contributing editor Alistar Kata's report on an incisive new documentary.

INVESTIGATIVE journalist Kim Webby’s incisive and compassionate new documentary, The Price of Peace, about Tūhoe campaigner and kaumatua Tame Iti and the so-called “Urewera Four” won a standing ovation at its premiere during the NZ International Film Festival this week.

It deserved this - and more. Webby has crafted arguably the most brilliant film portrayal of race and cultural relations in New Zealand in contemporary times. She has examined a criminal case of national interest to explore biculturalism and justice in general, and specifically the litany of injustices imposed on the Ngāi Tūhoe people for generations.

And Webby has exposed the hypocrisy and myth making over both the Tūhoe case of justice and the disturbing facets of the current political orthodoxy around state surveillance.

The 87-minute film – made over a period of seven years - is essentially about the trial of the Urewera Four and its aftermath following the notorious “terror” raids in Te Urewera in 2007.

It portrays a striking and polarised duality about how mainstream New Zealand viewed the arrests and the people who were brutalised by this masked “swat” team-style attack on a peaceful and laid-back community.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Rainbow Warrior: My Eyes of Fire anniversary message

David Robie speaking at the Eyes of Fire launch last night.
Image: Del Abcede/PMC; background screen image: John Miller
COMMENT: This was David Robie's book launch address.

IT'S HARD to believe that it is now 30 years – three whole decades – since state-backed terrorists blew up the peaceful environmental ship Rainbow Warrior – a vessel with such an inspiring name – and our friend and campaigner Fernando Pereira lost his life. 

I vowed to myself that I would continue the crusade as an engaged journalist by telling and retelling this story on any occasion I could.

This was the best I could do to keep Fernando’s memory alive, and to support the struggle of the Rongelap people – and all Pacific peoples harmed by the nuclear powers and their testing for more than a half century.

I remember the launch of the very first edition of Eyes of Fire in early 1986 out on the Viaduct aboard an old Auckland ferry.

Thanks to publisher Michael Guy, we had this giant cake iced with the French Tricolore. Dancing on the top of the cake were three frogmen and the phrase “J’accuse”.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Rainbow Warrior legacy 30 years on - Eyes of Fire book launch

TODAY is the 30th anniversary of the Rainbow Warrior bombing in Auckland Harbour on 10 July 1985. Cafe Pacific brings you Selwyn Manning's wide-ranging interview on Evening Report with David Robie about the Rainbow Warrior's Pacific voyage - its last - the Rongelap evacuation, the legacy of nuclear testing by the three nuclear powers in the Pacific and looking forward to the challenges of climate change.

The book launching of Eyes of Fire by outgoing Greenpeace New Zealand executive director Bunny McDiarmid, is at The Cloud on Queen's Wharf at 4.30pm today, just near to where the environmental ship was bombed by French secret agents.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Fiji, PNG lead betrayal, but still West Papuans triumph

A massive crowd at Timika, Papua, greets the MSG decision to grant West Papuans observer status.
Image: Free West Papua Campaign
COMMENT By David Robie

THE Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders’ summit in Honiara this week must go down as the most shameful since the organisation was founded two decades ago.

It had the opportunity to take a fully principled stand on behalf of the West Papuan people, brutally oppressed by Indonesia after an arguably “illegal” occupation for more than a half century.

Host nation Solomon Islands Prime Minister and chair Mannaseh Sogareve set the tone by making an impassioned plea at the start of the summit, predicting a “test” for the MSG. He said it would be an issue of human rights and the rule of law.

In the end, the MSG failed the test with a betrayal of the people of West Papua by the two largest members. Although ultimately it is a decision by consensus.

Instead, the MSG granted Indonesia a “promotion” to associate member status – an Asian country, not even Melanesian?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Rainbow Warrior and NZ’s Pacific nuclear-free legacy

Alistar Kata's Rainbow Warrior report for Pacific Media Watch.

A PROGRESS report on the new Eyes of Fire – it's very different from previous editions, with an even greater emphasis on the Rongelap and Polynesian casualties of American and French nuclear testing in the Pacific.

The new Eyes of Fire ... out on the 30th anniversary
of the Rainbow Warrior bombing, July 10.
New Zealand media has too much preoccupation with the 1985 bombing of the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland, and has largely ignored the greater Pacific tragedy.

Outrageous as this attack by French secret service agents was, it pales into insignificance alongside the atrocities inflicted on Kanak independence activists at the same time, such as the Hienghène massacre, the assassination of Éloi Machoro and the bloody ending to the 1988 Ouvea cave siege as exposed in the 2011 docu-drama Rebellion.

The publishers describe the new Eyes of Fire as being as being the "definitive work on Western treachery in the Pacific".

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Pacific nuclear struggle didn’t finish with end to tests – new wave activism

 A Pacific Media Watch report by Alistar Kata.

AN innovative community publisher has teamed up with Café Pacific and the Pacific Media Centre to launch a dynamic microsite to honour the courage and commitment of the Rainbow Warrior nuclear-free campaigners.

And to inspire activism for the environmental causes still to be won – like seriously addressing climate change before it’s too late.

Or continuing the struggle for the Rongelap, Tahitian and other islanders whose lives have been ravaged by the legacy of nuclear testing. 

Little Island Press, which specialises in Pacific projects, has teamed up with author David Robie and the centre to collaborate with journalism and television students.

The digital microsite – “Eyes of Fire: 30 Years On” – has gone live this week. Over the next few weeks some 13 news stories and five full studio interviews will be rolled out on the website or on the PMC’s YouTube channel.

The campaign will run until the 30th anniversary of the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior on 10 July 1985 and climax with publication of the new edition of Eyes of Fire.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Time to end this noose around the Fiji media’s neck

Professor Biman Prasad ... advocate for Fiji press freedom. Photo: Repúblika
PROFESSOR BIMAN PRASAD has long been outspoken about the state of the media in Fiji. He had a simple but staunch line throughout the election campaign about the Media Decree: It had to go.

Back in 2008, two years after the Bainimarama military coup, he teamed up with University of the South Pacific journalism academic Shailendra Singh, to produce a courageous book pulling together a collection of papers about democracy and the media in Fiji.

So it was no surprise that would he would test the decree by tabling a motion in the Fiji Parliament last week to remove or modify the invidious and misguided legislation.

And although it was defeated,  24-17, it was interesting to see the number of absentions (9 on the government side). The motion wasn’t defeated as heavily as it might have been.

Worth another shot soon.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Real media freedom or MSG ‘brownie points’ over West Papua?

Freed West Papuan political prisoner Numbungga Telenggen (left) is hugged by a supporter
in Jayapura at the weekend. Image: HRW/AFP
MEDIA freedom in West Papua? The end of the international media blackout in the most repressed corner of the Melanesian Pacific, far from the gaze of neighbouring nations with the exception of Vanuatu?

This is what Indonesian President Joko Widodo effectively declared in Jayapura last Saturday just days before a critical meeting between the Indonesian observers and a Melanesian Spearhead Group while the West Papuans are lobbying to join the club.

But hold on … Promising sign though this is, Café Pacific says we ought to be viewing this pledge more critically and to take a longer term view to see if there are any real changes on the ground.

Some media groups, such as the Pacific Freedom Forum and Pacific Islands Media Association, have responded with premature enthusiasm.    

“Freeing political prisoners and foreign press access to West Papua will be the biggest regional story this year - and the next,” declared the PFF.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Israeli architecture of destruction – and the 'hidden violence' against Palestine

 Alistar Kata's report on the visit by Amira Hass. Video: Pacific Media Centre

COINCIDING with the visit by renowned Haaretz journalist Amira Hass to New Zealand in the past couple of weeks, Al Jazeera has been running a repeat of the brilliant programme “The Architecture of Violence” in the Rebel Architecture series.

In this, architect and communicator par excellence Eyal Weizman explains how Israel has transformed urban warfare and how the techniques are used to subjugate Palestinians.

Travelling across the illegal settlements and roads of the West Bank and also along the Separation Wall, Weizman shows how the controlled use of architecture is deployed to consolidate the Israeli grip on Palestine.

"Architecture and the built environment is a kind of a slow violence,” he says.

“The occupation is an environment that was conceived to strangulate Palestinian communities, villages and towns, to create an environment that would be unliveable for the people there."

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Rainbow Warrior reflections - new Eyes of Fire on way

Flashback: David Robie presents Eyes of Fire to PM Ham Lini in August 2006.
Vanuatu Daily Post story
CAFÉ PACIFIC offers a bit of nostalgia. In just over a couple of months, New Zealand and the Pacific will be marking the 30th anniversary of the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior in an outrageous case of state terrorism by French secret agents in Auckland's Waitemata Harbour on 10 July 1985.

Dutch photojournalist Fernando Pereira was killed as part of the double-bomb plot. An unwarranted attack on a peaceful environmental ship.

The word is that there will soon be a fresh new (fifth) edition of David Robie's book Eyes of Fire. Out of a dozen books or so to surface out of the l'Affaire Greenpeace, David's was the only one written by somebody actually on board. There will be new content and new pictures.

The publishers, Little Island Press, also have a surprise package planned. More about that later.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Fiji needs independent watchdog to watch MIDA for future elections

WHILE the Multinational Observer Group’s final report on the first post-coup Fiji general election since 2006 last week found the poll “credible” - as expected based on its preliminary report in spite of the cries of "fraud" by critics - it has offered a raft of recommendations for improvement, including with the news media.

Among these recommendations is a call for an independent watchdog for the controversial Fiji Media Industry Development Authority (MIDA), which had a mixed role during the elections.

Arguing that should MIDA continue its role in future elections, the final MOG report said there was a need for “an independent institution to adjudicate complaints about its actions”.

Citing the 2013 Constitution’s section 17 providing for freedom of “speech, expression and publication”, MOG was in general complimentary about the Fiji news media, saying they “made good efforts to cover the election”.

And thus political parties were “to varying degrees” able to communicate to the public.

Friday, April 17, 2015

ANZAC Day - now we're fighting to spy for torturers and to hide how NZ soldiers die?

Cartoon: Malcolm Evans/TDB

By MARTYN BRADBURY of The Daily Blog

SO this ANZAC Day we are fighting to spy for torturers and hiding the manner in which NZ soldiers die?

While we stand at attention and bow our head solemnly to do our pious bit for ANZAC Day, what exactly are we fighting for this year?

While we stand at attention and bow our head solemnly to do our pious bit for ANZAC Day, what exactly are we fighting for this year?

Apart from siding with butchers and dictators who have helped create the new generation of Muslim fanaticism, it appears we are fighting to spy for torturers and the ability to hide how NZ soldiers die in battle.

Our need to worship the dead for some sense of identity has blinded us to the mistakes that drive war and that’s why we are silent on the outrageous hypocrisy of entering a new war to suck up to America.

The Malcolm Evans gallery at The Daily Blog
Cartoon: Malcolm Evans/TDB

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Time to end West Papua atrocities, isolation – and back its Pacific claims

The "Free West Papua" item on TVNZ's independent programme Tagata Pasifika. West Papuan membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group is now critical.


THE TIME is long overdue for ending more than a half century of isolation for West Papua, after decades of systematic oppression from Indonesian “security” forces following Dutch colonial rule.

But instead of honouring the promise of The Hague for West Papuan self-determination, expansionist Jakarta send in paratroopers to Irian Jaya in a disastrous campaign in 1962, and “stole” Papuan independence aspirations with a sham Act of Free Choice under the United Nations banner seven years later. 

A shameful betrayal by the West and the United Nations. Four decades of genocide has followed with impunity while the world has largely ignored the plight of West Papuans.

However, things are gradually changing. Social media and the increasing courage of eyewitnesses to speak out are producing a compelling dossier of damning evidence against systematic human rights violations by Indonesian forces.

Whereas in recent years, West Papua has been something of a "black hole" or "blind spot" for media coverage from countries such as Australia and New Zealand - and even much of the Pacific - the tide seems to be turning.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Bloody aftermath of Paniai massacre in West Papua captured on video

The four-minute video, shot by citizen journalists and released publicly for the first time today, includes first-hand testimony from survivors of the Paniai massacre in West Papua and graphic footage taken in the immediate aftermath. Video: Minority Rights Group International

NEW VIDEO footage showing the bloody aftermath of the Paniai massacre in West Papua highlights the urgent need for Indonesia to hold an independent and transparent investigation into the tragedy, says Minority Rights Group International (MRG).

A still from the MRG video.
In December 2014 four unarmed Papuan teenagers were killed and 17 more Papuans were injured when the Indonesian army and police opened fire on a group of peaceful protesters in Paniai.

They had gathered to protest an earlier incident of violence by the Indonesian security forces.

The four-minute video, shot by citizen journalists and released publicly for the first time today, includes first-hand testimony from survivors of the massacre as well as graphic footage taken in the immediate aftermath.

"This film gives a disturbing insight into the Indonesian military’s casual disregard for the lives of Indigenous Papuans,’ said TAPOL's Esther Cann.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

New Dawn FM and the Bougainville mining lobby machine?

PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH’S Alistar Kata has just filed an interesting report about the virtual “shut out” of no-mining critics in Bougainville in the lead-up to the elections next month. The report was about a head-to-head interview with the Bougainville Freedom Movement’s long-time campaigner Vikki John and New Dawn FM broadcaster Aloysius Laukai, both past award winners for their contrasting roles.

John claimed the “ownership” of news websites was hampering opposition news, saying this was another form of “brainwashing” by the company that is angling for resumption of copper mining at Panguna, the mine which triggered the 10-year Bougainville civil war. However, Laukai was at great pains to reject any alleged links to the powerful Bougainville Copper Limited mining lobby.

Last month’s new mining law passed by the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s legislature last month has paved the way to make reopening of the mine possible.

“No, we have no links and that’s why we have put up heaps of stories and cover events such as the mining forums,” Laukai told Kata. “There must be some confusion with us and another Bougainville news website.”

He was probably referring to Bougainville24 news website, which is produced by Bougainville Copper Ltd. But that isn’t the end of the story.

According to the European Shareholders of BCL, they have been backing New Dawn FM and have promoted an appeal to channel funds to the community broadcaster, founded with UNESCO support in 2008.

A link to this was revealed in a posting on the Pacific Media Centre website today, which referred to ABG and Bougainville Copper Foundation funding for New Dawn. The European Shareholders webpage goes like this:

The European Shareholders of Bougainville Copper New Dawn appeal.
Radio New Dawn on Bougainville has been founded a couple of years ago. It is the first free network made by Bougainvilleans for Bougainvilleans. At the present, the radio station is in threat of shutting down.

Small revenues from local businesses and the Autonomous Bougainville Government cannot guarantee its existence. Bankruptcy would be fatal.

Radio New Dawn is the only genuine voice of Bougainville compared to all other media who report from PNG’s capital Port Moresby – some 1000 kilometres away. 

Aloysius Laukai, manager and chief editor, [has] been honored for his work in the past. But honors alone cannot assure the broadcaster’s survival. The ESBC appreciate a lot [of] the crew’s information work. After years of uncertainty during the Bougainville crisis, Radio New Dawn created a new public awareness and self-confidence on the island.

Therefore, the European Shareholders of Bougainville Copper (ESBC) are proud of supporting this shining project. This is in the interest of locals and all those from abroad who benefit from Radio New Dawn’s internet blog that updates information on the positive development in Bougainville.  Financial funding will be highly welcome.

We strongly hope that our initiative will be successful and help to maintain Radio New Dawn’s services in future. Please find our account information here! You also can send funds directly to Radio New Dawn on Bougainville.
Late last year, on October 7, the BCL mining website announced that New Dawn FM had turned to modern mobile phone apps and social media to cover news in remote parts of Bougainville region.

“Station manager Aloysius Laukai now has 15 staff members working under him as the team seek to build awareness on the biggest issues affecting Bougainville,” reported the BCL website.

“Laukai and his reporters use WhatsApp and Viber, cross-platform mobile apps, to exchange information and file stories.”

It was also reported that a radio infrastructure upgrade was being funded to enable FM coverage across the whole region. Who was paying the bills? “Jointly funded by the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the Bougainville Copper Foundation," said the BCL website.

Bougainville's two-week regional elections next month begin on May 11.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Climate change, environmental journalism and better media ethics

Pacific Media Watch editor Alistar Kata interviewing Kiribati Independent editor Taberannang Korauaba
about his climate change research in Micronesia at last night's seminar. Photo: Del Abcede/PMC
FIVE YEARS ago, as an environmental journalist and journalism educator, I attended “Oceans, Islands and Skies” – the Oceanic Conference of Creativity and Climate Change – at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji.

I found this a very moving, stimulating and inspiring experience. Until then, I had largely worked on the global and Pacific political dimensions of climate change.

There Once Was An Island
At that conference I found myself thrust among a tremendously talented group of people from all over the globe. And it was where I first encountered Briar March’s remarkable documentary There Once Was An Island: Te Henua e Nnoho about the plight of the people of Takuu, a tiny Polynesian atoll in Papua New Guinea, also known as Takuu Mortlock.

The islanders were confronted with the harsh reality of rising seas and climate change and were forced to make a decision about whether to abandon their traditional Pacific homeland for the coast of Bougainville. (They were divided, some left for Bougainville - mostly younger people, others stayed).

In many ways this is an iconic storytelling of the reality of climate change told by the islanders themselves.

Monday, March 9, 2015

New e-media programme - Manning and Hager on NZ's Pacific spy 'arrogance'

LIVE NOW on Evening Report .... journalist and ER founder Selwyn Manning talks to investigative journalist Nicky Hager about New Zealand "full-take collection" spying on New Zealand's Pacific neighbours. was launched tonight with the Hager interview on the Snowden Revelations.

Earlier Café Pacific blog posting today - From a coconet spy tempest to TPPA secrecy
Pacific Media Watch/The Intercept report - NZ spies on Pacific neighbours

Sunday, March 8, 2015

From a coconet spy tempest to TPPA secrecy

The "TPPA - no way" rally at the weekend in Auckland - one of more than a score of New Zealand cities hosting protests against the controversial proposed free trade agreement. Photo: David Robie
PACIFIC commentator Barbara Dreaver called last week’s spying on the Pacific neighbours controversy a storm in a teacup. Or perhaps it was more like a coconet tempest.

Security affairs specialist Paul Buchanan was more concerned about getting French military backs up in response. We had enough of that three decades ago this year with a certain scandalous maritime bombing.

State terrorism in fact. And Britain, the US and Australia – three of the Five Eyes club members along with New Zealand and Canada – remained so meek over that outrage.

Fairfax Pacific reporter Michael Field pointed out that with a bit more methodical spying, New Zealand would be better informed about the region instead of being caught by surprise with both the Sitiveni Rabuka and George Speight coups in 1987 and 2000 and other events.

Reliable intelligence is critical for New Zealand’s political and military responsibility to the region – “what are they expected to do for useful intelligence, Google it?”

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Improving Pacific media freedom record … but let’s get real

Pacific press freedom ... maybe not as bloody as elsewhere in the world, but vigilance still needed. Image: AFP/RSF
IT’S GREAT to get some bouquets on media freedom issues instead of brickbacks in the Pacific for a change. But let’s not get carried away. Instead of all the backslapping, what is needed is more vigilance because really it is all about more than watching this space.

Tonga did best in the latest Reporters Sans Frontières World Press Freedom Index, climbing some 19 places to 44th (yes, actually above the United States, but still below the best-paced Pacific island Samoa at 40th).

You would expect a healthy climb during the year, especially with former school teacher and public broadcaster (not to mention publisher of the pro-democracy Koe Kele’a) ‘Akilisi Pohiva finally becoming prime minister of Tonga.

This was an encouraging result in the November 2014 election following the first “democratic” election in 2010.

And it was expected that Fiji would also improve in the rankings after the “return to democracy” election in September – first since the 2006 military coup – flawed though that might be.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Samoa's 'Rochelais monster' adds beef to the French Roosters

Profile (in French) on La Rochelle captain Uino Atonio. Source: Pierre Ammiche

FORMER Samoan and New Zealand prop Uini Atonio - the man they call the "Rochelais monster" - looks set for his Six Nations debut, making the 23-man French squad for this Saturday's assignment in Paris which his coach predicts will be an emotional moment in the wake of the country's recent terrorism attacks.

The 24-year-old, born in Timaru and a former Samoan under-20 international, gained his residency eligibility last year after joining French club La Rochelle in 2011 and made his debut against Fiji in November.

Unio Atonio
He made three appearances for France in that international window and has held his favour with coach Philippe Saint-André.

He's unofficially the biggest man to pull on a French jersey. So big in fact, that they had to get a special jersey made to accommodate his 1.97-metre and 146-kilogram frame.

For comparison's sake that makes Atonio shorter than the Wallabies' Will Skelton (2.03m tall, weighing 135kg), lighter than former Wellington and Fiji prop Bill Cavubati (1.89m tall, weighing 165kg), but all-around bigger than All Blacks loosie Jerome Kaino (1.96m tall, weighing 113kg).

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Stop the press - a stimulating contribution to NZ media debate

A story, “Locked Up Warriors”, about the New Zealand jail culture on Al Jazeera’s East 101 series. See Tom Carnegie's story below on New Zealand journalists working at Al Jazeera. Image: Al Jazeera – Watch video.

SCOOP  has been hosting a lively series entitled The State of NZ News Media that is providing some rare insights into an industry under siege (not that you would know much about this from local publications). The short-term objective is identifying possible ways of reinventing Scoop and ensuring its future as the vital independent news service that it is.

A longer-term goal is giving New Zealand journalism an energy boost and new directions.

The State of NZ News Media
As part of the debate, some interesting pieces are coming to light on the wider issues of freeing New Zealand from the shackles of an insular and short-sighted industry. Niche media such as Scoop are essential for the country.

We need independent and vigorous media with an international outlook prepared to challenge the neo-liberal orthodoxies and prejudices, such as Australia has with the Antipodean edition of The Guardian, The Conversation, New Matilda, Crikey and others.

Alison McCulloch's provocative piece is a particularly good read: Stop the Press - is corporate media a flawed product? It is, of course. But Alison's argument concludes with her own personal response and suggestions about what to do:
I appreciate absenting myself from daily corporate churnalism isn’t going to bring about a media revolution. But the structural problems run so deep, this profit-making media monster simply can’t be fixed with a little tweaking about the edges.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

On Charlie Hebdo: An open letter to my 'Anglo' friends

What Voltaire might have said to Charlie Hebdo - and the answer below. Cartoon: Ironman
'We are all trying to find the narrow path – defending the French Republic against the twin threats of fundamentalism and fascism (and fundamentalism is a form of fascism). But I still believe that the best way to do this is to fight for our Republican ideals - secular and democratic.'*

By Olivier Tonneau writing for France's Mediapart

Dear friends,

LAST week, a horrid assault was perpetrated against the French weekly Charlie Hebdo, who had published caricatures of Muhammad, by men who screamed that they had “avenged the prophet”. A wave of compassion followed but apparently died shortly afterward and all sorts of criticism started pouring down the web against Charlie Hebdo, who was described as Islamophobic, racist and even sexist.

Countless other comments stated that Muslims were being ostracised and finger-pointed. In the background lurked a view of France founded upon the “myth” of laïcité, defined as the strict restriction of religion to the private sphere, but rampantly Islamophobic - with passing reference to the law banning the integral veil. One friend even mentioned a division of the French Left on a presumed “Muslim question”.

As a Frenchman and a radical left militant at home and here in UK, I was puzzled and even shocked by these comments and would like, therefore, to give you a clear exposition of what my Left-wing French position is on these matters.

Firstly, a few words on Charlie Hebdo, which was often “analysed” in the British press on the sole basis, apparently, of a few selected cartoons. It might be worth knowing that the main target of Charlie Hebdo was the Front National and the Le Pen family. Next came crooks of all sorts, including bosses and politicians (incidentally, one of the victims of the shooting was an economist who ran a weekly column on the disasters caused by austerity policies in Greece).

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

‘Je suis Charlie’? Not I. Here’s why…

A profile on the role of satire in France a la Charlie Hebdo via Vox.

By Richard Fidler at Canada's Life on the Left

MILLIONS of people took to the streets in France and elsewhere in Europe and North America to protest the brutal murderous attacks by Islamist extremists on the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a Kosher supermarket in Paris.

At Charlie Hebdo, the death toll of 12 included the paper’s editor and some of its major cartoonists; a further 23 staff members were wounded. Several more were murdered at the Jewish grocery store.

The unifying slogan of these protests is “Je suis Charlie!” - I am Charlie, the implication being that the targeted publication — notorious in France for its ridicule of minority religious beliefs, especially Islam — had merely been exercising its right to “freedom of expression.”

That is the theme being propagated by the establishment media and politicians. Many on the left have chimed in. NDP [New Democrats] leader Thomas Mulcair in Canada says it was a “terrible attack against democracy and freedom of the press.” Québec Solidaire leader Amir Khadir, speaking for the party, said it was a “black day for free speech".

Free speech?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Creating the cartoons that led to the Charlie Hebdo assassinations

Charlie Hebdo, Before the Massacre from The New York Times on Vimeo.

NINE years ago two Paris-based filmmakers, Jerôme Lambert and Philippe Picard, who have directed many documentaries for French public television, made a controversial documentary, Cabu: Politiquement Incorrect (Cabu: Politically Incorrect), about one of Charlie Hebdo's most famous cartoonists.

The documentary hasn't yet been released in English, but an almost six-minute section of it about the decision-making process around publication of a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad has been edited as a short package and published online on Op-Docs at The New York Times.

Ultimately, the publication of this cartoon - and others – by the satirical magazine led this week to the tragic assassination by two jihadist gunmen of the cartoon creator, the editor and eight other people and two police officers protecting them in a savage raid on the publication’s office.

By the end of three days of blood-letting in Paris, including a double hostage siege, 17 innocent people had been killed plus three extremist gunmen - shot dead by French elite security forces. More than 3.7 million people and global leaders on Sunday marched in rallies across France - including the French Pacific territories - to pay tribute to those who lost their lives.

According to the NYT's website for Op-Docs, it is a "forum for short, opinionated documentaries, produced with creative latitude by independent filmmakers and artists". And there is an open invitation for submissions. Here is the introduction to the video - Charlie Hebdo, Before the Massacre:

Friday, January 9, 2015

#JeSuisCharlie : Cartoonist Plantu explains why taunting world leaders is essential

CAFÉ PACIFIC has been prompted with this column about Plantu and an interview he did last year before this week’s barbaric attack on the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo leaving 12 cartoonists, media people and a couple of policemen dead. And that's without adding the latest double siege casualties).

Queries in response to an earlier blog posting with questions by Robert Atack and others on whether Charlie Hebdo ran any cartoons about the Rainbow Warrior bombing by French secret agents in 1985 have not been answered here definitively.

Robert asked: “Did [Charlie Hebdo] ever publish any Rainbow Warrior cartoons?”

And then added in his next posting 37 minutes later: “This might be an opportune time to lay a [wreath] for Fernando Pereira. The freelance Dutch photographer, of Portuguese origin, who drowned when French Intelligence (DGSE) sabotaged and sank the Rainbow Warrior ship, owned by the environmental organisation Greenpeace, on 10 July 1985.”

An infamous example of state terrorism three decades ago this July!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

RSF calls on media outlets to publish Charlie Hebdo cartoons in defiance of ‘barbarity’

Charlie Hebdo getaway video from Trung Tâm VBig.

THE PARIS-based media freedom organisation Reporters Sans Frontières has called on global media editors to publish Charlie Hebdo’s political and religious cartoons as a response to the shocking “black Wednesday” attack on the weekly satirical magazine.

Renowned internationally for its scathing and hilarious cartoons, Charlie Hebdo has always put its fight for freedom of information first, says RSF.

And now its staff has been “decimated by an unspeakable act of violence that targets the entire press. Journalism as a whole is in mourning".

Many social media posters are asking is this a new “freedom of speech war”. Supporters are declaring "Je suis Charlie" - "I am Charlie" in vigils of solidarity.

“But,” warns RSF, “freedom of information cannot shrink in the face of barbarity and yield to blackmail by those who assail our democracy and what our republic stands for. In the name of all those who have fallen in the defence of fundamental values, let us continue Charlie Hebdo’s fight for free information.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Bula ... Fiji flyer Matanavou shows off his Toulouse rugby brand

Timoci Matanavou scores his fourth try in a Top 14 match against Lyon Olympique. Video: Stade Toulousain

By Shayal Devi in Toulouse, France

Many people often believe that when it comes to rugby, no one can hold a candle to the zealousness of Fijian fans.

And while this is evidently true in the way that Fijians follow the game, people in other parts of the world are equally captivated by the game.

Take the people of the south-western French city Toulouse, for example.

Fortunate enough to be part of a media group that travelled to France courtesy of Fiji Airways and the French Embassy in Fiji, I was able to see a different side of this beautiful European nation.

Slightly warmer than Paris, the fourth largest city of France felt just like home the moment we landed.

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