Report by Pacific Media Centre

La’o Hamutuk advocates and researchers with the author, Dr David Robie, in Dili, Timor-Leste. Image: David Robie

David Robie, Pacific Media Centre

Friday, April 1, 2016

La’o Hamutuk (Walking Together in English) is an independent social justice and development com-munication non-government organization established in Timor-Leste in 2000 by Timorese and inter-national human rights activists and campaigners involved in the country’s struggle for independence. Over the past 15 years, the NGO has monitored, analyzed, and reported on development processes in Timor-Leste and has forged a reputation for the quality of its communication for social change. La’o Hamutuk facilitates communication between grassroots people in the country and its elected leaders and decision-makers, and also establishes solidarity links with communities in other countries to explore alternative and independent development models. This author worked on a voluntary basis with La’o Hamutuk in November-December 2013 on a collaborative journalism education project to test notions of critical development journalism, peace journalism, and human rights journalism (HRJ) explored in his book published in 2014, Don’t Spoil My Beautiful Face: Media, Mayhem and Human Rights in the Pacific. This paper explores a case study on communication for change strategies deployed by La’o Hamutuk on specific issues including the maritime Timor Gap dispute with neigh-boring Australia and the future of the country’s oil and gas reserves; the State budget and Tasi Mane project on the underdeveloped south coast; unresolved human rights cases; food sovereignty and land rights; and a controversial media law regarded as a threat to freedom of speech and information. The paper examines these issues in the context of notions of both HRJ and collaborative citizen journalism.

Keywords: citizen journalism, development communication, media censorship, media freedom, media mobilization, social change

Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.