26 Feb 2009

BBC Papua report labelled dangerously wrong

2:14 pm on 26 February 2009

Survival International, a British-based campaign group for the rights of tribal peoples, has criticised a top broadcaster over comments he made in apparent reference to Papuans.

In comments on his BBC radio programme, 'Moral Maze', the presenter Michael Buerk said the only really primitive societies to survive into the modern age were the tribes in the remote parts of New Guinea.

Mr Buerk added that whenever they come across a stranger they kill them.

In a statement, the director of Survival International, Stephen Corry, described Mr Buerk as dangerously wrong.

Mr Corry said that little-contacted peoples had very good reason to fear outsiders, who he said had brought death and destruction in their wake.

Mr Corry said the tribal people's hostility and fear which he said characterised new contacts, had nothing to do with their being primitive.

There's been no response from Mr Buerk.

Two years ago, Boris Johnson, who's now Mayor of London, was criticised for saying his fellow politicians had been involved in what he called Papua New Guinea-style orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing.

Mr Johnson later apologised to the PNG government for his remarks.

He added he was sure that Papua New Guineans, as he put it, led lives of blameless bourgeois domesticity.