Thursday, May 11, 2006

Earthquake and Tsunami warning marks WPFD in Samoa

[UNESCO News] The Journalism Association of Samoa (JAWS) celebrated World Press Freedom Day despite the delay caused by a tsunami warning. A strong earthquake in the early hours of Wednesday 3rd May resulted in a tsunami warning for several Pacific Island Countries including Samoa. The Government declared a state of emergency asking everyone to stay home.
World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) celebrations scheduled for 9am on Wednesday were deferred to 5:00pm on the same day to keep the momentum of the day going. Guests of honour for the celebrations including the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister were unable to attend as they served on the National Disaster Committee. JAWS welcomed the participation of the third guest of honour, Hon. Mulitalo Sealiimalietoa Siafausa Vui, Minister for Information and Communication Technology, who diligently attended the postponed morning session and dropped in for the evening session.

Celebrations began in the fa’a Samoa (Samoan Way) tradition with an opening prayer by the Rev Moli Moli, a former Journalism student whom in his prayer thanked God for the Freedom of the Press as it allows for freedom of the people. The President of JAWS, Uale Papalii Taimalelagi, made a welcoming address acknowledging the importance of WPFD in Samoa and its role in ensuring a fair and just Government. That was followed by a keynote address by Abel Caine, Adviser for Communication & Information at UNESCO.

Three speakers from different schools spoke on the theme of the day, media, development and poverty eradication. Martin Mariota, a Theological student compared the role of the press to that of Jesus, a voice for the people and an advocate. According to Mariota, the role should be righteous, fair and objective, something the media should strive for constantly. Bryolle Taimalelagi, a young Samoan man spoke on the importance of cultural and Christian principles in the media. He said both aspects of Samoa, if used wisely by the media will make a better society. The Notable Speech of the evening, by youngest participant, Ms. Sulesa Simanu, emphazised the 2006 WPFD theme of the role media in development and eradicating poverty. “If the press or the media is free, informative and fair, Samoans will know how to plant fruits and vegetables, they will know who to plant the nonu and market it overseas, Samoans will know how to take care of cows and sheep.” She added: “And if Samoa is aware of all these things and reap from the knowledge of these livelihoods and development; we will have plenty of food, every child will have a good education, we will all live in good houses.” Ultimately according to Sulesa, health will improve and that means, “Our people will live happy and healthy.” A copy of the speech and other WPFD articles are available on the JAWS website. The celebrations ended with a small get together of local Journalists and partners in the media to celebrate the one day devoted to our right to write, World Press Freedom Day translated Aso Faapitoa mo le Saolotoga o Ala Faasalalau ma le au Tusitala I le Lalolagi.

This article courtesy of UNESCO News: