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Journalist Mark Worth's Sudden Death Shocks

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SUSPICIOUS DEATH OF MARK WORTH, JOURNALIST, FILM MAKER AND CAMPAIGNER FOR JUSTICE IN WEST PAPUA

* See also: http://www.pmw.c2o.org/2004/papua4273.html

SENTANI (RW/Pacific Media Watch): The death of Australian print, radio and film journalist Mark Worth has shocked Papuans and all those involved in the campaign to free West Papua from brutal repression by the Indonesian military.

Mark died from unknown causes in a hotel room in Sentani, West Papua, yesterday, January 15. Mark is survived by his Papuan wife Helen and baby daughter Insoraki.

Mark was born in PNG and spent most of his life in PNG and West Papua. He spent most of the last 15 years producing radio programs, writing articles and producing documentary films about the West Papuan people and their struggle for self-determination. Mark's influential documentary films include the 'Act of No Choice'.

His death must be treated as suspicious when recent events in West Papua are considered, and because it came just two days after the announcement by ABC television that his latest documentary Land of the Morning Star would premier on Australian television on Monday 2 February [ http://www.pmw.c2o.org/2004/papua4273.html]. Mark described this film as his 'life-time project', and he spent the best part of the last ten years researching, collecting footage and interviewing Papuans to make what will be a lasting memorial to this committed journalist.

Recent weeks have seen a major escalation in intimidation and provocation by Indonesia. In the last few days five Papuans have been sentenced to between 20 years and life for their alleged involvement in a raid on a military post in Wamena. By contrast, the nine soldiers also involved received sentences of just 6 to 14 months. Papuans students are also being held in prison in Jakarta after a demonstration and face 20 years in jail, and seven highland leaders are being held in jail in Jayapura.

And this week infamous former police chief of East Timor, Timbul Silaen, who was charged with gross human rights violations during the 1999 East Timor atrocities, took up his post as Papuan police chief. And on Monday, in an act that shows there is no limit to Indonesia's provocation, a small island off East Timor was bombed by the Indonesian navy.

Mark was widely believed to have been linked to the recent footage, which featured on SBS Dateline last November, of OPM leaders making appeals to the international community for help to bring about peaceful dialogue to solve the problems West Papua. Two days after the footage was screened, ten Papuans, including one of the leaders who featured in the film, were shot as they slept in a raid by 200 Indonesian soldiers. Their bodies were later displayed like hunting trophies.

When Mark's high profile and reputation as an honest and influential journalist is considered, along with the recent events, is it any wonder that many view his death as suspicious? It is vital that Mark's death be fully and independently investigated.

When West Papua finally gains independence, Mark's contribution to that freedom will long be remembered by Papuans.

Papua merdeka!!

+++niuswire

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