PNG journalist death sparks anger over violence against women

Post-Courier journalist Rosalyn Evara ... furore over the circumstances of her death. Image: Loop PNG

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Papua New Guinea’s National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop sought a court order to stop the burial of a journalist until a proper post-mortem has been conducted on her, reports The National.

Her burial was halted this morning after the last relative objecting to a post-mortem – her mother – agreed, reports Loop PNG.

Her body was taken back to the funeral parlour last night under instructions by investigating police homicide unit detectives and latest reports said the result of the post-mortem would be known tomorrow.

READ MORE: Funeral of Post-Courier journalist overshadowed by abuse allegations

Her paternal family had also sought a post-mortem, reports said.

Rosalyn Albaniel Evara, 41, was business editor of the PNG Post-Courier newspaper until she died on Sunday, October 15.

Her death has unleashed a wave of anger over violence against women in Papua New Guinea.

The front pages of Papua New Guinea’s two daily newspapers contrasted today with The National splashing Evara’s death on the front page while the late journalist’s own newspaper, the Post-Courier, featured a curtainraiser on the Kumuls for their Rugby League World Cup opener in Port Moresby next Saturday.

A tale of two newspapers … contrasting front pages of The National and the Post-Courier today. Image: Alex Rheeney

This sparked an ex-PNG Media Council president Alex Rheeney, who is also a former chief editor of the Post-Courier, to condemn his old newspaper on social media.

Writing in The Pacific Newsroom, Rheeney said in a bitter commentary directed at the Post-Courier:

“Halo, she was your employee and one of the best – if not the best – until the end. All employers have a duty of care to their employees and the Post-Courier continues to fail by not seeking justice for their business editor Rosalyn Albaniel Evara and giving editorial prominence to the issue from the date of her death.

“The newspaper failed to get to the bottom of the death of the esteemed journalist, and my former colleague, when she passed on … October 15, leaving that responsibility [to] close friends and family.

“In today’s edition you choose to belittle the memory of one of Papua New Guinea’s top journalist by running stories and pictures on her funeral service yesterday on Page 16, unlike The National which did well by giving the issue front page coverage.

“As a former chief editor of the newspaper, I am shocked and disgusted at the management’s failure to give editorial prominence to the issue and be proactive in relation to the death of Rosalyn and push for a full investigation into her shocking death, as a responsible employer.

“Where is the empathy to and for Papua New Guinean professionals who contribute to your annual profits?”

Current Post-Courier editor Todagia Kelola defended his newspaper’s decision to carry the report of the funeral well inside the newspaper, saying it was an issue of “the angle” for the news.

The newspaper had taken an editorial decision to focus on the funeral rather than the allegations around her death, he told Loop PNG.

In a separate statement, he claimed the funeral had been “hijacked” over the allegations.

The Minister for Youth, Religion and Community Development, Soroi Eoe, condemned Evara’s death and joined Parkop’s call on authorities to investigate the allegations.

“I condemn such death in the strongest terms based on the allegations of late Mrs Evara being a victim of gender based violence. Again the matter is serious and must be dealt with accordingly.”

Injury marks on body
At her funeral service at the Rev Sione Kami Memorial Church in Port Moresby yesterday, The National reports, her aunt, Mary Albaniel, showed to the crowd images of her body with injury marks on it.

“The images were shown on a screen inside the church,” the newspaper said.

“No to violence against women”. Image: Loop PNG

“Mary Albaniel wore an orange t-shirt with the words: ‘No to violence against women’ on the back. She told the congregation that her niece had been a victim of violence.”

The National reported that the images showed that Evara had injuries to several parts of her body.

A death certificate from the Port Moresby General Hospital showed that Evara, 41, was rushed the hospital after she had collapsed that afternoon. She was reported to have been suffering from headaches the previous day.

Governor Parkop last night was working with police homicide unit at Boroko and the coroner to get a court order to stop her planned burial today at the 9-Mile Cemetery outside Port Moresby until a proper post-mortem was conducted to confirm the cause of her death.

‘Mere allegations’
Parkop, a strong advocate of ending violence against women, said he had called up the newspaper but was told that claims of violence instituted on her by someone close to her were “mere allegations”.

“I will follow up to find out the truth,” Parkop said.

“I am determined that there must be [a] prosecution if the allegation is true.”

Overseas media were yesterday also chasing up the story of her death.

A police homicide officer at the Boroko police station confirmed with The National last night that they were working on the case with Parkop.

Evara’s mother Ella Albaniel, a former principal of Lae School of Nursing, told The National that she was against the idea of a post-mortem although her daughter could have died from injuries, The National reported.

Evara completed Grade 12 at the Aiyura National High School in Eastern Highlands in 1993.

She spent two years at Divine World University where she graduated in 1995 with a Diploma in Communication Arts.

She worked with Word Publishing until about 2002 when she joined the Post-Courier.

Evara was based in Lae, Madang and Port Moresby.

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