Pulitzer Prize-winner sued by Papuans for US$10 million

May 15, 2009

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A Pulitzer Prize-winning author and eminent scientist is being sued by tribesmen from Papua New Guinea for US$10 million.

The lawsuit was filed in New York by Papuan men Daniel Wemp and Henep Isum Mandingo against Jared Diamond, author of an article about the tribesmen published in The New Yorker magazine in April 2008.

The article, titled ‘Vengeance is ours: What can tribal societies tell us about our need to get even?’, claims that Wemp’s uncle was killed in a battle with another tribe and that Wemp held Mandingo responsible, leading to Mandingo being shot with an arrow in revenge, paralysed, and forced into a wheelchair.

According to the two Papuans, Diamond’s article falsely accused them of ‘serious criminal activity and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, including murder.’ They are suing the scientist for defamation in a court in Manhattan.

Diamond is author of the critically acclaimed book ‘Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies’. The lawsuit against him comes not long after former BBC newsreader Michael Buerk said that New Guinea tribes are ‘primitive’ and kill strangers ‘whenever they come across (them).’