Pacific Media Watch

24 October 2017

PNG: Funeral of Post-Courier journalist overshadowed by abuse allegations

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Sudden death of prominent journalist Rosalyn Albaniel Evara sparks controversy ... domestic violence allegations emerge. Image: Loop PNG

PORT MORESBY (Pacific Media Watch): The farewell of prominent PNG Post-Courier journalist Rosalyn Albaniel Evara has been overshadowed by domestic abuse allegations.

During Evara’s funeral at Sione Kami Memorial Church yesterday, her aunt, Mary Albaniel, accused Evara’s husband of domestic violence, prompting calls by journalists, politicians and the public for an investigation into her sudden death.

Evara, the business editor of the Post-Courier, was rushed to hospital last week on October 15 after collapsing in her home.

She died in Port Moresby General Hospital later that day.

Loop PNG reports Albaniel showed images of Evara’s bruised body -- taken a short time after her passing -- during her eulogy, while the bright orange t-shirt she wore said “NO to violence against women”.

Well-known PNG journalist Malum Nalu, who attended the funeral, said it was “clear as daylight” Evara had died as a result of an assault.

In a Facebook post shared to The Pacific Newsroom page, Nalu questioned why the PNG Post-Courier, had not reported the alleged assault.

Criticism of Post-Courier
“Why didn’t the Post-Courier report this last week? This is supposedly a newspaper that prides itself on campaigning against violence against women.”

The PNG Post-Courier has hit-back at such accusations in an editorial, stating two of its former employees -- one a former general manager and the other a reporter -- had “sarcastically berated and belittled the Post-Courier as a leading advocate against gender-based violence”.

The Post-Courier reaffirmed its “leading” commitment to fighting gender-based violence and said it was also not aware of any form of domestic abuse due to the fact Evara was a private person.

“In proper perspective, the colleague was a completely private person, never one to talk about her personal experiences, life, marriage or what goes beyond the limits of the workplace.”

The editorial also said the allegations of abuse driven by Albaniel, Evara’s aunt, had “hijacked” the funeral service.

“In highjacking what was a befitting and the official tribute to a well known and respected professional colleague at the funeral service, relatives chose to show slides of her body we had not seen and have never seen.

“Any decision to prove cause of death in any given situation like such is made by the family if they are united and respect the person in the same manner.

Calls for investigation
“Such calls are also made when information is clear and precise.”

The newspaper has also defended its controversial coverage of Evara’s funeral, after its story appeared on page 16 compared to The National’s front page article.

EMTV’s Lae Bureau chief Scott Waide, is also calling for an investigation.

In a blog post, Waide said Evara’s aunty had made the right decision to expose an issue he said would have otherwise remained hidden.

“I am appealing to her family to conduct an autopsy if one has not already been done.

“The circumstances surrounding her death are suspicious and, in my personal view, warrant a proper police investigation.

“Rosalyn Albaniel was a mum, wife, sister, friend and a public figure in her own right. Her death, like the deaths of many other women, deserves a clear explanation,” Waide said.

Death ‘must be investigated’
“If she died of recent or prior injuries or if she died as a result of beatings, it must be investigated and the matter brought to a close.

“We cannot allow the cause of her death to be swept under the carpet without an autopsy.”

The National reports Capital District governor Powes Parkop was arranging to obtain a court order to postpone Evara’s burial until a post mortem has been conducted.

However, opposition to a post mortem did initially come from Evara’s mother, who told The National she was against the idea, but Loop PNG reports the burial was halted and an autopsy carried out at 4:30pm today.

Loop PNG’s Imelda Wavik also reports a case was filed against Evara’s husband by her father’s side of the family, but was dropped following a request by another relative to do so.

News of Evara’s death last week shocked PNG’s media industry, Loop PNG reports.

Todagia Kelola, editor-in-chief of PNG Post-Courier, said: “It is a shock to the Post-Courier and to us all; such a healthy and strong person who, despite going through so much, would always give everything to her work.

“It is a sudden and great loss for the Post-Courier and the media industry in PNG.”

Pacific Media Watch

PMC's media monitoring service

Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators. (cc) Creative Commons