THE OPPOSITION CLIP 09: COMMUNITY RESISTANCE
It was through a set of fortuitous circumstances that the abuses of the Paga Hill community were able to be recorded by the makers of The Opposition. Many similar struggles occurring daily around the world remain hidden from public view except in very rare cases. The exposure of these abuses is dependent on the forging of alliances and recruiting support from domestic and international sympathisers.
Support from the political class is always important. The role initially played by Dame Carol Kidu brought the issue into the PNG Parliament and empowered the community to continue its struggle. Her intervention possibly dampened the aggression of the PNG police, at least when she was visible. Her resignation from the Parliament and her company’s subsequent contract with the developers was a major disappointment to Joe and other members of the Paga Hill community.
The alliance formed with the International State Crime Initiative and Dr Kristian Lasslett points to the importance of forging links with research institutions and drawing support from their expertise.
The type of publicity generated by the release of The Demolition of Paga Hill would not have been possible without such an alliance.
When Joe Moses was seeking to ﬁnd refuge to avoid threats made against him, an international alliance including the United Nations and human rights defenders’ protection organisations began to form an alliance to help Joe and ﬁnd him temporary harbour in the UK in an academic institution.
The legal fraternity is also a valuable ally. Many domestic and international law ﬁrms have pro bono programs designed to support campaigners for social justice. Establishing links with these institutions can have major impacts. The Law School at the University of NSW provided advice to the ﬁlmmakers throughout a three-year period, strategising the release and impact. Key practicing lawyers have lent their expertise not only for the court injunction case against the ﬁlmmakers, but to strategy, impact and advice for the characters within the ﬁlm.
The Opposition was screened at Transparency International’s International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) in Panama involving heads of state, UN representatives, civil society anti-corruption campaigners and the private sector. The similarity between what took place at Paga Hill and many other struggles over land was striking. It turned out to be an empowering experience to other campaigners to meet up with Joe Moses and to
compare notes. This network of people struggling over similar issues serves as a means to exchange experiences and strategies and strengthens the movement for human rights. The Opposition has been the vehicle for the exposure of abuse of human rights, for bringing together civil society in common cause, for facilitating harbour for a human rights defender at risk and for demonstrating the need for solidarity in the search for