Pacific Media Watch

2 August 2015

PNG: Campaigners dedicate Madang court victory to dead researcher

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Anthropologist Nancy Sullivan made her home in Papua New Guinea and was much loved by the people she worked with. Image: Nancy Sullivan and Associates.

MADANG (Radio NZ International/RA Pacific Beat/Pacific Media Watch): Activists working to resolve issues around a controversial industrial zone in Papua New Guinea have dedicated their recent win in a court case to the eminent anthropologist Nancy Sullivan.

Sullivan died last month in a car crash in the United States.

She was among 11 defendants to a court challenge by the PNG government which wanted their public campaign to raise concern about the planned Madang-based Pacific Marine Industrial Zone restrained.

The court ordered the 11 defendants to be compensated and the case has been dropped.

Sullivan, was one of those leading the PMIZ campaign and contributed a recent article to Pacific Media Watch about the campaign and attempts to gag her colleagues.

Fellow activist Dorothy Tekwie said her death was a blow but that it had also spurred them on.

"Nancy was the champion in pushing this forward. She wanted to see this thing resolved and we dedicated the win so far to her in trying to not stop the PMIZ project, but to ensure that the landowners get benefit from the process, that they are respected and the environment is protected."

Dorothy Tekwie said the court action caused a lot of stress for the defendants and they also faced police harrassment.

Tributes have poured in for the anthropologist since the tragic accident.

Having lived in PNG for 23 years, Nancy Sullivan ran an anthropology consulting company in Madang and employed various students from the PNG studies department of Divine Word University.

Sullivan forged a reputation as an ardent campaigner for protection of PNG culture and local citizens' rights.

PNG journalist Scott Waide said Sullivan provided a formidable voice against the exploitation of Papua New Guineans by large scale industries and foreign governments.

According to the editor of the PNG Attitude website, Keith Jackson, she showed great bravery and dignity in continuing to expose exploitation in the face of repeated threats and intimidation.

The 57-year-old North American native wrote about her campaigns in her blog Nineteen years and counting in Papua New Guinea.

Her three Papua New Guinean grandchidren, aged five, eight and 10, were also injured in the accident, two of them critically.

In an RA Pacific Beat interview with Sajithra Nithi, prominent PNG lawyer Tiffany Twivey-Nongorr, who was a close friend of Sullivan, said she was "passionately devoted to protecting the Melanesian way of life in the face of rampant, uncontrolled, unregulated development".

'Critics gagged' article on PMW by Nancy Sullivan


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Pacific Media Watch

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