Authors: Duncan Gabi and Vernon Gawi / Project Sepik
PROJECT SEPIK CALLS ON THE NATIONAL NEWSPAPER TO REFRAIN FROM PUBLISHING FAKE UNSUBSTANTIATED NEWS AND TO APOLOGIZE TO THE PEOPLE OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA FOR MISINFORMING THEM REGARDING THE APPROVAL OF FRIEDA MINE.
Project Sepik, an NGO at the forefront of the battle to stop the proposed Frieda River Gold and Copper mine in the Sepik Region, has called on The National Newspaper to refrain from spreading false information regarding the approval of the mine.
“The action taken by the newspaper is a scandalous behavior.”
This comes after The National published an article titled “Project proceeds with measures” on their online website which stated that the Honorable MP, Minister for Environment, Conservation and Climate Change, Mr. Wera Mori has given the green light to the Frieda river mining project to move forward with measures to protect the environment.
Minister Mori has since responded to the article stating that he was in his home district, Chauve, Simbu Province, during the Christmas period. He has categorically denied making any public statements nor given any clearance and or signing any documents such as a permit as stated by The National in the article.
Minister Mori said he has not commenced any processes yet and the news was absolutely false.
The online article published on the 23rd of December, 2020, a few days before Christmas was alarming, as all government offices were closed for business.
Such an important decision must come from detailed analysis because of the levels of discussions on the issue throughout the year. It is highly unlikely that the permit would have been approved or given the green light to go ahead in its operations at an inappropriate time like this.
The National has degraded its image and brought into question its integrity and professionalism with regards to the ethics of journalism.
The National and proponents of the mine must refrain from misleading the nation by publishing fake news on such a sensitive issue when the fight against the Frieda Mine has now reached the international stage, with support from the United Nations.
The proposed Frieda Mine is an ongoing issue and a matter of life and death for the people of Sepik. For a media company to put up fake news is uncalled for. The stunt by the National newspaper has everyone who is concerned about the issue, on their feet.
This action by the media company is unethical, as it spreads lies with dubious claims, and the actions of the media company must not be taken lightly.
At the moment, the proposed Frieda mine, its proponents, the Government, and the people are awaiting the decision of the state through CEPA regarding the Environmental Permit for the mine.
The People of Sepik, PNG, and international communities of environmentalists have openly opposed the mine. East Sepik Provincial Government has unanimously voted against the Mine in its current form with the Governor, Allan Bird issuing a warning to CEPA to take legal action against them if they approved the environmental permit. Project Sepik will also take the CEPA to Court if such a decision is to ensue.
The people, including the government of the day, are well aware of the stance of both East & West Sepik Provinces who share the Sepik river. CEPA is yet to comment on this longstanding issue.
Speaking on behalf of the people of Sepik who stand in solidarity against the Frieda Mine, Project Sepik calls on the National Newspaper to publicly retract its fake news and apologize to the people of Papua New Guinea.