Sunday, April 17, 2016

Pacific human rights advocacy as a ‘mindful’ journalist

Pacific Media Centre's Professor David Robie and Tongan publisher, broadcaster and communications adviser
Kalafi Moala at the human rights forum in Nadi, Fiji. Image: Jilda Shem/RRRT

(Note: This commentary is extracted from David Robie's notes as part of a multimedia keynote presentation at the Enhancing a Human Rights-based Approach to News Reporting Forum in Nadi, Fiji, 13-15 April 2016 . The notes were written originally to go with a series of slides and embedded video clips).

SOME of you perhaps may be mystified or puzzled about why I have included the term ‘mindful’ journalism in the title of this presentation. I’ll explain later on as we get into this keynote talk. But for the moment, let’s call it part of a global attempt to reintroduce “ethics” and “compassion” into journalism, and why this is important in a human rights context.

Human rights has taken a battering in recent times across the world, and perhaps in the West nowhere as seriously as in France on two occasions last year and Brussels last month. After the earlier massacre of some 12 people in the attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January, there was a massive wave of rallies in defiance and in defence of freedom of speech symbolised by the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie – I am Charlie.

Investigators in both Belgium and France worked on the links between the two series of attacks and have made a breakthrough in arresting two key figures alleged to be at the heart of the conspiracy, Salah Abdeslam and Mohamed Abrini, a 31-year-old Belgian-Morrocan suspected to be the “man in the hat” responsible for the bomb that didn’t go off at Brussels airport.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Polar bear mojo for Greenpeace captain’s environmental thriller

A pensive Peter Willcox at a detention hearing at the Kalininskiy Court in Saint Petersburg in 2013 before being set free. Originally charged with "piracy" with a penalty of up to 15 years, Willcox faced the prospect of languishing in a Russian jail for the rest of his life. Image: Igor Podgorny/Greenpeace

Review by David Robie

WHEN Anote Tong, the former president of Kiribati, a collection of 33 tiny atolls sprawling across the Pacific equator in the frontline of climate change, believed he wasn’t being listened to, he thought of a simple strategy – polar bears.

By comparing himself and his country’s meagre population of 102,000 to the endangered creature, he suddenly got more headlines.

The endangered polar bear … anecdote for former President Tong,
FB mojo for Peter Willcox. Image: Still from Greenpeace video
And he got the idea after having just seen a polar bear in the wild.

“I drew a comparison that what happens to polar bears will also be happening to us in our part of the world,” he explained.

Tong feared that the bears in their Arctic habitat, like the people of Kiribati in the Pacific, were in danger of losing their homes in the near future.

Today the polar bear is the mojo adopted by Greenpeace skipper Peter Willcox on his Facebook page.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Kurdish hacker targets Fiji police, military websites - offline all day

11:05am This page replaced the homepage of the RFMF, Fiji Police, and Fiji Immigration websites this morning. Image: Newswire Fiji
SIX hours after this hacking was reported by Newswire Fiji, Café Pacific checked and found these Fiji websites still "defaced, offline or under repair ..."
By Allison Penjueli of Newswire Fiji

Websites belonging to the Republic of Fiji Military Force (RFMF), Fiji Police Force and the Immigration Department were today “defaced” apparently by a Kurdish hacker known for his anti-ISIS views.

In the attack, MuhmadEmad uploaded a picture of the Kurdish flag along with the words, “KurDish HaCkerS WaS Here” and “HaCKeD by MuhmadEmad, Long Live to peshmarga.” This was a reference to the Kurdish army of Peshmerga, which has been fighting to defend its homeland from the so-called Islamic State force based in Iraq.

Fiji police spokesperson Inspector Josaia Weicavu said the force was aware of the hack and was working to rectify it.

An RFMF spokesperson was unaware of the incident when contacted, but said he would look into the issue.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Mystery of the 1983 Vanuatu “nuclear free” girl finally solved

June Keitadi (left), now Warigini, with Del Abcede grating coconut at a chance meeting on Aneityum Island
on Christmas Day 2015. Photo by David Robie


So the mystery is finally over. In 1983, I took this photo of a young ni-Vanuatu girl at a nuclear-free Pacific rally in Independence Park, Port Vila. She was aged about five at the time.

June Keitadi with her family's "No nukes" placard
at Independence Park, Port Vila, Vanuatu,1983. 
On the left (yellow tee) is her mother Annie Weitas. 
Photo: David Robie
She was just a delightful happy painted face in the crowd that day. But her message was haunting: “Please don’t spoil my beautiful face” had quite an impact on me. When monochrome and colour versions of this photo were published in various Pacific media and magazines, a question kept tugging at my heart.

“Who is she? Where is she from and what is she doing now?”

Her placard slogan became the inspiration for my 2014 book, Don’t Spoil My Beautiful Face: Media, Mayhem and Human Rights in the Pacific, published by Little Island Press in New Zealand.

I would have loved to have named her in the book with the cover image of her. So this spurred me onto to more determined efforts to discover her identity.

First of all I posted the photo – and a Hawai’ian solidarity video that also showed the little girl, discovered by Alistar Kata – on my blog Café Pacific last October 10. Almost 1100 people viewed the blog item, but no tip-offs.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Jane Kelsey: All pain, no gain – why not a TPP-free zone?

Café Pacific
video of the TPP protest in Auckland this week by Del Abcede/PMC

OPINION: By Professor Jane Kelsey
In New Zealand, we dared to declare ourselves nuclear-free in the 1980s – dire warnings that ditching the Anzus alliance would make us a pariah, isolated and ridiculed never came to pass. Instead, we were celebrated as a small, independent nation with the guts to decide our own future. Why can’t we do the same with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)?

The National government ignored widespread opposition from ordinary New Zealanders when it signed the secretly negotiated deal. Doubtless we’ll continue to be fed the old Anzus line that New Zealand can’t afford to not to be at the table.

National’s glitzy new “TPP fact” page is bad wine repackaged in new bottles. Here’s a few facts they don’t tell you: The projected economic gains of 0.9 per cent of GDP by 2030 are within their own margin of error, even before costs are factored in and disregarding unrealistic modelling.

More than 1600 US companies, the most litigious in the world, will gain new rights they can enforce through private offshore tribunals if/when regulation damages their value or profits.

The agreement guarantees foreign states and corporations a right of input into regulatory decisions, which Maori, trade unions, small businesses and local government would not have.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Asia Pacific Report - a new venture for independent journalism

Alistar Kata's video about the Pacific Media Centre.

By David Robie

Comments from the and video launch in Auckland tonight.

OUR new adventure really began back in 2007 when Selwyn Manning joined the Pacific Media Centre as the founding advisory board chair, but really took a big leap forward when he initiated the Pacific Scoop concept and we developed that together, launching it at the 2009 Māori Expo.

Over the next six years, Pacific Scoop played an inspiring role in independent journalism alongside the main Scoop Media website, providing a range of Asia and Pacific stories and analyses.

A significant core of this project was its role as the official output from AUT’s postgraduate Asia Pacific Journalism course. We have sent students all over the Pacific on key story and research assignments over the years. Some of these stories have won awards.

While at AUT, Selwyn did two innovative postgraduate honours degrees – producing ground-breaking documentaries for both, Morality of Argument and Behind the Shroud, which are featured on AsiaPacificReport.

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