Pacific Scoop

PMC condemns ‘cowardly’ Paris raid, slams impunity in Asia-Pacific region

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Part of the “We Are Charlie” rally in Auckland today organised by French citizens living in New Zealand. Image: TV3

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Pacific Media Watch

The director of AUT University’s Pacific Media Centre today condemned the “outrageous and cowardly” attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, describing it as a despicable assault on global media freedom.

Professor David Robie at AUT University said he was heartened by the weekly magazine’s courageous staff decision to continue its struggle for freedom and go ahead with the next edition in spite of the killing of 12 people by masked gunmen in a raid on its editorial offices on Wednesday.

“This a terrible blow against freedom of expression and press freedoms everywhere and we should not allow such brutality to intimidate us.”

The PMC in AUT’s School of Communication Studies publishes Pacific Scoop, PMC Online and runs the Pacific Media Watch freedom project in collaboration with the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders.

“In spite of the savagery of this attack against unarmed cartoonists and peaceful media co-workers by religious zealots, the pen will still remain mightier than the sword,” said Dr Robie.

“The global ‘Je suis Charlie – I am Charlie’ campaign is already evidence of the worldwide defence of freedom of expression against tyranny.”

Auckland rally
More than 1500 people attended a “We are Charlie” rally in Auckland today in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo and the democratic right of freedom of expression.

Dr Robie joined RWB/RSF in saying the attack on Charlie Hebdo was a tragic reminder of the dangers to which journalists covering sensitive religious issues are permanently exposed.

“Journalists are increasingly facing religious taboos and censorship that influential groups are trying to impose. Columnists, editorial writers and cartoonists are among the journalists who are most exposed to threats, prosecution and even physical attacks.”

Charlie Hebdo is regarded as highly critical of Islamist extremism having published many cartoons, including of the Prophet Muhammad.

“But it is equally critical in lampooning Christianity, Judaism and many other faiths,” Dr Robie said.

Ironically, one of the police officers gunned down was a brave Muslim defending the right to ridicule his faith.

“Humour and satire are important safety valves in our democratic societies. We must defend this right to free expression without fear or favour.”

Philippines massacre
However, Dr Robie said the killing of journalists and media workers with impunity in developing and authoritarian nations in the Asia-Pacific region far from the glare of the world’s press should not be overlooked.

The International Federation of Journalists reported a record 118 journalists and media workers being killed in 2014 with the highest death toll in Pakistan – 14 killings.

Dr Robie said the worst single attack on journalists was the 2009 Maguindanao, or Ampatuan, massacre on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao when 34 media staff were murdered among a total of 58 civilians in an ambush on an election motorcade.

“Nobody has yet been successfully prosecuted and jailed for this atrocity after five years, although more than 100 suspects are reportedly being ‘detained’.”

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Freedom of speech supporters draped in the French national flag today. Image: TV3

At the rally today, organised by  Elise Fournier and Géraldine Clermont, French photographers, artists and writers spoke of defending free expression and the crowd sang the national anthem La Marseillaise.’The right to be rude, the right to be crude… are at the core of Charlie Hebdo’s fight for freedom of speech,” said video production editor Géraldine Clermont.

“Its cartoonists and writers strongly believe that one should be able to laugh at everything – from genocide to fundamentalism. If we destroy this fundamental right, we are destroying our own core human rights that we fought for so long: our freedom.”

Higher risks
Alexander Ingham, whose journalist parents live in Paris, one working for Agence France-Presse news agency and the other a correspondent for The New Zealand Herald, warned of the higher risks now facing journalists.

“This terror attack was highly unexpected and leaves us dumbstruck … Freedom of speech is one of the fundamental rights in France.”

Countless messages have been posted on social media in New Zealand in support of Charlie Hebdo, but there have been critics too.

One critical poster on The Daily Blog asked: “Did [Charlie Hebdo] ever publish any cartoons on the Rainbow Warrior?”, in reference to the bombing of the Greenpeace environmental flagship by French secret agents in Auckland harbour on 10 July 1985 to prevent it going to Moruroa Atoll to protest against nuclear tests.

l-affaire-du-rainbow-warrior-juge-cartoon-humour-rainbow-warrior-Stop press:
A reader has since kindly offered a link to a Plantu cartoon in Le Monde, which roughly translated a quote by then President Francois Mitterrand giving a subsequent history lesson: “At that time, only presidents had the right to carry out terrorism!”

Source: Pacific Media Watch 9096
PMW condemns ‘barbaric attack’
Other stories at Pacific Media Centre Online
More pictures from the Auckland vigil


  1. wod, 10. January 2015, 10:52

    I can’t find a cartoon from Charlie Hebdo but in “Le monde” (french newpapers), Plantu did a draw (off course with humour 🙂 ). It can be seen here : “”

  2. Stuart Fox, 10. January 2015, 11:03

    Déjà vu Rainbow Warrior.

    The atrocious murders at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper offices in Paris and then the supermarket, are ironically reminiscent of the equally sad or even more incredible bombing of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour in 1985 by New Zealand’s supposed ally France which initially vehemently denied responsibility.

    Six secret service agents of the French GSDE, some using false Swiss passports, infiltrated NZ as tourists, even visiting and spying on the ship posing as supporters – and planted 2 bombs on the peace boat which was, like the attackers in France, protesting – in that case French nuclear bombs. Whilst most of the 11 Rainbow Warrior’s crew on board at the time survived, one was murdered in an action labelled by the NZ government as an act of terrorism by France.

    Some of the French terrorists escaped on their yacht Ouvea to a waiting French submarine Rubis which then scuttled the Ouvia. Two French government murderers were captured in NZ and tried – pleading guilty. Former French Prime Minister Fabius admitted the plot and cover-up as “the terrible truth” apologising + paying NZ$13 million and later over $8 million to Greenpeace. Following ‘Le Monde’ newspaper alleging President Mitterrand had approved the mission, the French Minister of Defence Hernu was forced to resign – the only government ‘Fall Guy.’ French Admiral Pierre Lacoste also admitted involvement.

    Following French threats of an economic blackmail embargo against little NZ’s agricultural exports – in a sense their ‘oil ’ – to the European Economic Community if the pair were not released – potentially crippling the NZ economy – the French terrorists were transferred to a French military base on Hao Atoll to serve their sentences yet despite intergovernmental agreement they were released after serving only a fraction of their incarceration term – it was a disgraceful affair perpetrated on a peaceful cause and nation by an arrogant powerful government.

    Whilst that was an arrogant, isolated though arrogant and ill conceived malicious confrontation, France and all other effected threatened countries are now being ‘treated’ by their ‘imports’ to what some other nations – which never succumbed to blackmail – have endured for years.

    Solution – governments should immediately call public referendums enabling citizens to decide solutions to the problems virtually self created. Then politicians, who will never perform where a potentially politically controversial decision is clearly required, will be finally forced to act in their peoples best interests to solve the worlds siege now….. before it is too late – because the problem definitely won’t go away by itself – in fact it’s obviously deteriorating.

    Otherwise . . . . get used to it.