The Opposition: Paga Hill’s villagers fight for justice in PNG

The Opposition documentary delves deep into the David-and-Goliath battle over a slice of Papua New Guinean paradise. Image: PMC screengrab

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

In Papua New Guinea, community leader Joe Moses struggles to save the 3000 inhabitants of Port Moresby’s Paga Hill settlement before they are forcibly evicted from their homes in this documentary screened on Al Jazeera’s Witness programme.

Despite betrayals, police brutality and risks to his own life, Moses battles through the courts for three years, fighting the company which wants to develop the area into a luxury resort and cultural centre.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE: Al Jazeera’s Witness screening of the Paga Hill documentary

As the struggle unfolds, Moses recruits a coalition of allies, including politician Dame Carol Kidu, investigator Dr Kristian Lasslett and a motivated team of pro-bono lawyers to help him save his community.

“Some stories pick you. On my second day in Papua New Guinea, I found myself in the middle of a human rights abuse – standing between police holding machetes and machine guns, and the Paga Hill community, who were watching their homes being destroyed and fearing for their lives. The community were peaceful, but refused to be defeated,” recalls filmmaker Hollie Fifer.

“When I found out that a property developer was after the Paga Hill land in order to build a five-star hotel, marina wharf, and national cultural centre, I knew I had an obligation to capture the community’s resistance.

“The irony of violently evicting a Papua New Guinean community to replace their homes with a national cultural centre was startling.

“The fallacy of ‘development’ was clear. Over the last four years, I have been constantly watching the story of Paga Hill unfold and trying to capture it as it does.”

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