Last Saturday, June 22, Nadjoua and Linda Bansil were abducted in Sulu, southwestern Philippines, while taking footage for their latest documentary film.
Their abduction is one more incident in a long line of threats, dangers and harassments we as journalists, photographers and documentary filmmakers experience while trying to serve our communities. Some of these threats are a response to our work, our dedication to telling a story that some don’t want to be told. Others are a consequence of our exposure. Our quest for information, for the truth, and for a chance to see what is happening from many different angles, takes us to places that most people would avoid, and leads us to approach situations and individuals that pose danger to our wellbeing and to our lives.
Linda and Nadjoua have been dedicated to Conflict Sensitive Journalism since they joined PECOJON in 2006. Their films are taking a look at some of the most troubled places in the Philippines and force us to face some critical issues: the human rights situation as well as the operations of extracting industries in the country.
But they also chose to tell about the Moro culture and thereby give a face to a community that is still widely unacknowledged and misunderstood in Philippine society. Filmmakers such as Nadjoua and Linda open doors between communities, allow us to connect, to understand each other’s quests and needs. But they also challenge us to leave our comfort zones, to ask critical questions, and to take a close look at ourselves, our actions and our societies.
Regardless if we are wealthy members of an elite in a major city or among the poorest in a remote area, feeling forgotten by the world; filmmakers and journalists like Linda and Nadjoua work for us, challenge us, guide us, by providing us with a better understanding of our surroundings and by giving us a voice in a world that otherwise might disregard us and leave us behind.
As PECOJON journalists we do understand that every human being has a reason for his or her action and sees these actions as justified. And surely so do those who abducted the sisters. But we call on their abductors to respect Nadjoua’s and Linda’s efforts to strengthen human rights and the Moro communities, to ensure the sisters’ safety and well-being, and release them immediately.