Rarotonga, Oct 24: More Pacific leaders should follow the example of New Zealand’s government in condemning the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, says PFF, the Pacific Freedom Forum.
“Ongoing pressure from the Pacific and global leaders will send a strong message that you can’t disappear people and get away with it,” says PFF Chair, Monica Miller of American Samoa.
In a statement released this week, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Minister Trade and Export Growth David Parker said the New Zealand government condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the killing of Khashoggi by Saudi operatives.
The New Zealand statement came shortly after the death of the prominent journalist in the Turkish Consulate General in Istanbul was officially confirmed by the Saudi Arabian government, following earlier claims he had left the consulate building on October 2.
The Washington Post columnist had predicted he would be targeted for his work, calling out corruption and pushing for transparency from the Saudi government led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The 33-year old ruler has led a crackdown on dissent since he came to power last year.
Miller recalls the parallels of the Khashoggi killing with the assassination of Sri Lankan news editor Lasantha Wickrematunge on January 8 2009, just days after he had published a column predicting he would be killed for his criticisms of the military government.
“Sadly, we are once more being brutally reminded that journalists following their calling can be cut down at any moment, just for doing their jobs.”
From the North Pacific, PFF Co-chair Bernadette Carreon says: “Pacific nations have come of age with the invaluable contribution of human rights defenders and many are well aware of the balance a government in touch with its people brings to development.”
We commend New Zealand as a Pacific Forum member for standing against this horrific crime, and putting the Saudi Crown Prince on notice that the world is watching.”
Melanesia co-chair Robert Iroga says the withdrawal of New Zealand and Australia officials from the ‘Davos in the Desert’ investment conference this week in Riyadh also signals that trading relationships are on hold until the search for answers – and the body of Jamal Khashoggi- is resolved.
“The voices of our Pacific and other world leaders will lend momentum to the current investigation, but sadly, it’s only likely to confirm a journalist was killed for being a journalist. It’s important those involved in this atrocity are brought to justice.” (PR)