The (not so) mysterious death of Rosalyn Albaniel Evara.

By PNG Echo

Postscript

As an Australian tax-payer, I object to my hard-earned tax dollars going to a foreign government that tacitly condones the wholesale abuse of half of their population – and then does it with my money.

It is time that international sanctions were applied to Papua New Guinea – time to hit them where it will hurt – in the money pocket.  The international community need to express their disgust at the ongoing human rights abuses in PNG – we (the international community) can stop this, even if they won’t.

Let’s make this stop at Rosalyn Albaniel.

Her story:

She died suddenly. People were shocked.

“But I only just saw her yesterday,” and “I was to meet with her Monday,” they wrote incredulously.

For all intents and purposes, for the Senior Business Journalist with one of Papua New Guinea’s leading newspapers, Post Courier, it was ‘business as usual…until she died, that is.

There were outpourings of grief on social media and no doubt many more in the physical world. If there’s one thing that Papua New Guineans do well it is expressing their grief.

“Nooooo – it cannot be true,”
“Why did you leave us so soon?”
they write on social media in the case of loss. And at funerals, even men are heard (expected, even) to wail and cry out “Why, Lord?”

But the shocking truth is, that they had no need to ask “why,” they knew the answer – but they weren’t telling.

Rosalyn Albaniel Evara had been suffering ongoing physical abuse. Her husband often beat her senseless.

The injuries that she sustained are the probable cause of a suspected brain haemorrhage that killed her.

THEY KNEW

The ongoing beatings would take place within the gated accommodation compound of the employees of Post Courier. I once went to this complex in Port Moresby to drop off a colleague (a Post Courier journalist), who lived there. Whilst I never went inside the building, my impressions of the complex were that it looked like a block of cheap motel units of flimsy construction.

Living cheek by jowl with your co-workers in this way would not offer much in the way of privacy – and it didn’t. All witnessed the beatings that Rosalyn endured – if not by sight, certainly they would have heard them.

Some of her co-workers would take her in after she had been beaten and patch her up – supplying tea and sympathy.  Rosalyn begged them not to report her husband’s assaults to the police, as she was afraid for her daughter.  And they didn’t.  But they all knew.

Her beatings were a likely cause of her death – and they all knew.

In the wake of her passing, not one word was reported by the Post Courier about the circumstances surrounding her death – yet they all knew.

They attended her funeral yesterday, they sat there and grieved for her, yet they did not utter a word of what they knew.  Amongst the grievers would have been her husband.  They sat beside him even though they knew what he’d done.

It took a brave lady, Rosalyn’s aunt, Mary Albaniel, to tell all.  She chose to tell it at the funeral. It was a tale of sustained abuse and beatings leading to her niece’s death.

Mary Albaniel also had post mortem pictures she had taken of her niece’s body – and she showed these too. Rosalyn’s body was covered with the evidence of her husband’s abuse.

Yet with her bruised and battered body, Rosalyn turned up for work each day and performed her journalistic duties on behalf of Post Courier, her employer her clothes hiding most of the evidence of her abuse

Everyone considered Rosalyn Albaniel a good journalist who never failed in her duties to Post Courier – however, as a media outlet wedded to the idea of ‘the fourth estate’ whereby the media are tasked with a duty to expose wrongdoing, Post Courier surely failed Rosalyn.

Why wasn’t the perpetrator stopped (even if he wasn’t formally charged)?

Tea and sympathy for the victim before she’s sent packing back to her tormentor for more of the same, just doesn’t cut it.

Yet, the fault for her death must surely lie with the person who caused it – and that wasn’t her colleagues at Post Courier. But it could have been her husband.

Post Courier employees and others who knew were merely upholding a sick tradition that has emerged in PNG society whereby violence against women has become normalised and where very few men are ever prosecuted for violence perpetrated on women – especially ones deemed to ‘belong’ to the men through an intimate relationship or those that are said to be witches (yes, you heard right – they still burn witches alive in PNG). However, truth be told, women are fair game for men in most circumstances and age is no barrier.

The sick tradition

When Rosalyn’s Aunty Mary exposed what Post Courier should have at her niece’s funeral, she was wearing an orange T Shirt that said “No to violence against women.”

It was the T Shirt that we wore when we demonstrated against gender-based violence in Port Moresby on 16 December 2016.  It was, we thought, a landmark day.

Together with the Governor of the National Capital District (wherein Port Moresby resides) Powes Parkop, who is arguably the sole champion of the cause in the PNG parliament, we managed to put enough pressure on the PNG government that the National Executive Council (PNGs caucus) passed a strategy for combating violence against women that had been languishing in a government department for over 15 months. The irony of that situation was that the negligent minister overseeing that department was one of only three women in the PNG parliament at the time (there are none in this current line up).

The catalyst for the demonstration was a breathtakingly violent incident in the Highlands of PNG.

There was a report of a young woman suspected of cheating on her husband for which her husband sought revenge.  He arrived in her village with up to six of his friends and family and they chopped off both her legs with bush knives (machetes) that men habitually like to carry – a bit like Americans like to carry their guns.

I don’t know whether she survived or whether anything was done to those who committed this act because neither matter a damn in Papua New Guinea.  She was a woman, and one suspected of being wanton – she got what she’d deserved.  As for the men, well, they had every right, didn’t they? That’s the PNG attitude.

It is what enabled Rosalyn’s colleagues to turn a blind eye to her habitual, and clearly savage beatings – even though they are media and are expressly meant to do the opposite.  The sick tradition of condoning or ignoring violence against women prevailed.

Since that fateful day last December, not much has changed. Apparently, implementing government strategies take time – and time is something that the PNG parliament seems to have plenty of. Unfortunately time ran out for Rosalyn.

Rest in peace, my esteemed colleague, this journalist is aware of her obligations.

In the final analysis

The female half of the population of PNG are placed in such low esteem that no one cares when she is brutalized.

It is a national emergency treated by the government as a second or third tier priority, if indeed a priority at all or one which deserves more than lip service.  People have given up expecting that anything can or will be any different; that anything will change.

But they are wrong.  It must be changed.  It’s an abomination that needs resources thrown at it.

Yet the PNG government are blazé because there are no votes in it for them and government in PNG is all about hanging onto power.  Besides, many in parliament would have a problem casting the first stone for the reason that one survey (disputed) found that 70% of PNGeans beat their wives. That would make 78 out of 111 MPs potentially wife beaters themselves.

It is time the PNG government was given an urgent imperative to tackle this problem as their priority. To shake them awake from their smug reverie that it’s not their problem because they are men.  Let’s do it.

 

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Freedom and the pursuit of happiness are basic human (not just men’s) rights

By PNG Echo

I was appalled and concerned to wake up this morning to Post Courier front-page headlines: ‘Aussie stole my wife’.

Mr John Kundil Goimba
Mr John Kundil Goimba

Firstly, the story is not news – Mr Goimba’s story has had a considerable airing over the years on various blogs that will mindlessly publish anything.

None, to my knowledge have ever questioned the paradigm that Mr Goimba is entitled to have his wife back – even if it would be, clearly, against her will.  Although, I would have expected better standards of analysis and social responsibility of Post Courier.

This is a long-running domestic saga where Mr. Goimba has been trying to manipulate a positive outcome, for himself, for, at least, six years – which is getting his wife sent back to him – as if she’s his possession that he has a right to.

It’s become an obsession – and it shouldn’t be encouraged by front-page, uncritical headlines.

Over two or three years, I have been given this story many times, quite possibly by Mr. Goimba himself – but who can remember, it happened so long ago.

I declined to publish every time because the issues that Mr Goimba wishes to pursue are so mindboggingly twisted – his sense of entitlement to another human being so very warped and, sadly, so symptomatic of PNGs problem with domestic violence.

Australian protection

Fact: Mr Goimba, no one “stole” your wife. Your wife has left you. That she has never attempted to get in touch with either yourself or her children since she initially fled suggests she had some compelling reasons to do so.

As it’s only a select few that are privy to her reasons, including the Australian Refugee Panel, one can only guess at them.

But let’s be logical here. “A loving wife” (Mr Goimba did not call himself a loving husband) does not leave a marriage and children for nothing and seek a protection visa overseas. It’s hardly likely that she was kidnapped by Australians, is it?

At the very worse, she is an unhappy but calculating woman who has manipulated the Australian authorities to grant her a protection visa for her own selfish reasons – maybe in order to find herself a better life.

But the chances of this scenario are negligible.

Any PNGean who has ever tried to obtain any sort of visa from Australian authorities will attest to the rigor of the process. Many complain that the process is unreasonably onerous. What’s more, with the refugee situation in Australia being a political hot potato, there is no way that this woman’s claim would not have been minutely scrutinized before the visa was granted.

So, chances are she has a genuine claim.

Australia is a signatory to the International Convention on Refugees that explicitly outlaws “refoulement” or repatriation to a country where the refugee’s life is in danger. This is likely the scenario that the Panel found.

Consequences of an unresaonable sense of entitlement

Either way, this woman patently does not want is to be married any more to you, Mr Goimba. And she is entitled to both her freedom and her pursuit of happiness – as a human being not as a chattel of you, her rejected husband.

To have pursued this matter so vigorously, without giving up in six years, I find frightening.

This puts Mr Goimba in the ‘stalker’ category, by any reasonable measure and his behaviour would, by now, be ringing many alarm bells with people who deal with domestic violence on a day-to-day basis.  He’s clearly obsessed.

The attitude: she’s mine, I want her, she has to stay put, or else is a very dangerous one for the women involved.

I mean, what does Mr Goimba intend to do with his reluctant spouse if she is made to return to him? Will he hold her captive? Will he assault and murder her if she tries to leave him, again?

Because this is what this sense of entitlement often leads to – the statistics of the occurrence of the murder of a female by her intimate partner or former partner are frightening in Australia, who knows what would be found in PNG if statistics were kept?

Mr Gomba, you need to accept that your wife was, at the very least, unhappy being your wife and was wishing for her freedom. That’s not a crime. What is criminal is that you are trying to demonize the Australian authorities that have given your wife protection – most likely from you.

All women and indeed human beings have the right to freedom and the pursuit of happiness – Mr Goimba, you need to respect that is what your former wife is pursuing – without you.

Post Courier – wake up to your ethical and journalistic responsibilities

Post Courier should be ashamed of themselves for their lack of analysis concerning this matter.

Presenting the story, on the front page, as if the complainant has a genuine gripe against the Australian authorities when, in this instance, they are merely fulfilling their international obligations under the refugee convention is unconscionable.

Post Courier by their tacit sympathy with Mr Goimba’s plight to have his wife returned just perpetuates the attitudes that keep many women subjugated, beaten and broken in a society where many believe there is not a lot wrong with that. She is not a human being, but a possession.

You are feeding Mr. Goimba’s obsession and that’s, at the very least, cruel.

Could it be that some PNG men see that their unhappy wives and partners have now identified a viable road to freedom and they want the pathway blocked lest it upset the very favourable-to-men status quo?

Why is Post Courier uncritically aiding and abetting this agenda?

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Spotlight on social media:

By PNG Echo

This week there has been two separate innovations mooted to regulate social media by the government and its agencies.

Chief Censor Steven Mala and his deputy, Jim Aban
Chief Censor Steven Mala and his deputy, Jim Aban

Firstly, the Office of the Censorship Board is talking of introducing an ‘internet filtering system’ to control illegal use of the internet that is said to be “rampant at the moment.” (Post Courier).

Robroy Chicki who is the principal adviser on mass media with the Censorship Office has said the system is aimed at creating “… a holistic partnership approach to uphold the morale [sic] standings in the society.”

As such, the main target of the Censorship Office will primarily be blocking pornographic material in all its forms, while it is also envisaged that the system will be a deterrent to organized crime, including making it more difficult to launder corrupt monies.

Minister for Communications Hon. Jimmy Miringtoro
Minister for Communications Jimmy Miringtoro

Not to be outdone, in the office of the Minister for Communications, Jimmy Miringtoro, a Media Appeals Tribunal is being proposed.

It will target, particularly, the abuse in social media, establishing a means of redress for those “helpless victims” who have suffered defamation and damage at what is seen as a medium that has been, up until now, both uncontrollable and uncensored.

While the Censorship Board has recognized that the filtering system will have limited success in stopping all illicit material online, Minister Miringtoro has voiced his own suspicions that his proposal may be seen as government interference.  However, he says that it must be balanced against individuals’ right to privacy and human dignity that is being eroded by the “gross abuse” of social media.

The Censorship Office’s measure is a pre-emptive strike on internet abuse – in order to stop it, while the Minister is proposing a means of redress for the abused after the fact.

And while the former has caused nary a flutter, not so the proposed Media Appeals Tribunal.

The backlash

Alexander-Rheeney_Potrait_Edited
Alexander Rheeney, head of the Media Council of Papua new Guinea and Editor of the ‘Post Courier’.

One of the loudest protesters has been the Media Council of Papua New Guinea who is arguing for self-regulation overseen by them – for the aggrieved to seek recourse “…under the auspices of the council’s structure.”

They fear that the government is setting a dangerous precedent whereby politicians could determine and influence news in PNG.

But when one of their arguments is that “…Papua New Guinea is… free from State-sponsored censorship of any form and kind…” it gets hard to take them seriously.  What do they suppose the Censorship Board does and to whom do they think the Board answers?

Besides, if they feel it is their role to oversee self-regulation what’s been stopping them thus far?

Why have they maintained their silence through social media abuses that include, death threats, cyber-bullying, character assassination (using the foulest of language), mockery, ridicule and blatant defamation and distribution of lies?

Why have they not condemned this?  Do they really believe that this is what the constitution meant by freedom of expression?

Do they think that the lives and reputations that have been ruined to guarantee that some bored person behind a keyboard can vent his spleen is not worth even remarking upon?

The Media Council talks about the peoples’ right to criticize government and the good that can arise from this but what good arises from media that has, as their focus: a Minister’s missing tooth here, a political commentator’s photograph defaced there, here some subjudice contempt, there some publishing of private correspondence without the owners permission (often by people who should know better) everywhere an oink oink (and other more unpleasant four-letter words.)

The gauntlet is thrown down in the social media
The gauntlet is thrown down in the social media

In fact, had the Media Council spoken out when the Prime Minister had two supposed anti-corruption fighters charged with defamation or when Facebook sites emerged that threw down the gauntlet to the government using the mask ‘anonymous’ and blatantly avowing that they would spread any rumour, publish any half-truth and have dared the government to stop them, then the proposed regulation may not have been necessary.

What did they expect?  What did these ethically-challenged keyboard warriors expect?  Did they think that their actions should have no consequences?

That’s unrealistic.  Life’s not like that.

And while the Media Council branded the proposed move by the Minister as ‘draconian’, I suggest that PNG may be getting off lightly as the Minister said, in the press, that “…the Government was initially thinking about stopping social media…” now that would have been draconian.

Luckily it was rejected for a more moderate measure. Yet had that happened, once again, it would have been the ethically-barren spoiling it for all who use and enjoy social media sensibly and responsibly.

In the balance between freedom of speech and peoples’ right to not be defamed and bullied, the pendulum has swung too far towards the defamers – it’s too late, now only regulation and legislation will have it swinging back to a more neutral position.

To the social media opportunists who think they’ve got away with murder – it’s all your fault.

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Mr Popular: Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika

By PNG Echo.

Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika
Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika

It’s official. Deputy Chief Justice, Sir Gibbs Salika, is the darling of PNGs social media (and the mainstream press seems equally impressed.)

Lately, to a wave of public approval, he’s handed down a guilty verdict on the cases of Governor Havilo Kavo – Gulf Province, Member of Parliament for Komo-Magarima, Francis Potape, Former Minister for National Planning and Pomio MP, Paul Tiensten, Commissioner of Police, Tom Kulunga and this week he hit the approval jackpot with his conviction of Jimmy Maladina over the NPF scandal 17 years ago.

Continue reading Mr Popular: Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika

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Debunking the romanticism of investigative journalism

By PNG Echo.

The Watergate Affair, uncovered by investigative journalists
The Watergate Affair, uncovered by investigative journalists

Investigative journalism is often romantically portrayed as journalism in its most altruistic form: media fulfilling its ‘fourth estate’ function of public ‘watchdog.’

It does this by drawing attention to failures within society’s system of regulation and to the ways in which those systems can be circumvented by the rich, the powerful and the corrupt. (2008, de Burgh P.3)

Beattie and Beal talk of the ‘fourth estate’ as the public interest guardians of truth. (2007, Beattie and Beal p.37) and in investigative mode the media has had a number of notable successes in forcing recognition of wrongs and providing the motivation to right the wrongs. Some examples:

  • In the USA in 1972, the story that exposed corruption in the US presidency and caused the impeachment of President Richard Nixon (Watergate).
  • In Britain the exposé of Thalidomide scandal – a pre-natal anti-nausea drug that was the cause of severe birth deformities. (2008, Economou & Tanner pp.15-16)
  • In Australia, the Chris Masters’ documentary for Four Corners ‘The Moonlight State’ (ABC television 11 May, 1987) revealed high levels of corruption in the Queensland police services – the subsequent inquiry brought down the Queensland government.
  • In Sydney Morning Herald, (October 10, 2008), Richard Ackland wrote in praise of Western Australian journalist Colleen Egan who crusaded to have the case of a convicted murderer reheard. A wrongly convicted man is today free by virtue of the tireless investigative work done by Egan. He called the piece: “When the law provides no justice, call a reporter.

Continue reading Debunking the romanticism of investigative journalism

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Rhetoric over substance: O’Neill not always to blame

“O’Neill-ocracy” screams this morning’s Post Courier (Thursday 5 June, 2014). What could possibly have foreshadowed such a politically unrestrained newspaper headline? Asks PNG Echo

Proposed parliamentary reforms that, according to the Prime Minister, have been put forward by the Registrar of Political Parties (and not by himself or members of his party) are causing unnecessary chagrin, not least of all amongst members of the mainstream press who display a pitifully tenuous understanding that has produced a knee-jerk reaction.

Photo:  Front page 'Post Courier' 5 June 2014
Photo: Front page ‘Post Courier’ 5 June 2014

In particular, newspaper editor, Alexander Rheeney, led this morning’s Post Courier with the hysterical headline “O’Neill-ocracy”.

Rheeney’s main concern is about the proposed restriction of candidates for Prime Minister, (in the case of a successful vote of ‘no confidence’) to members of the sitting ruling party.

Rheeney claims, that this will benefit the current ruling party – in this case the PNC.

Exactly – so far so good – so what’s wrong with that?

Continue reading Rhetoric over substance: O’Neill not always to blame

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…and so the storyteller becomes the story

Nice writing Carmella Gware of the Post Courier.  Bravo to the editor of the Post Courier, Alexander Rheeney for having the guts to publish.  Who says PNG media is a puppet of politicians?

https://www.dropbox.com/s/dqcfp69gpnftic5/Susan%20Merrell%20Article%20Post%20Courier.pdf

Post Courier Profile

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