Serious protests came to us stating that Radio NZ (RNZ) reported careless, uncivil news, again. Without clear sources and data, they mentioned that some people died in West Papua. We traced where the news came from, and we found that the Tabloid Jubi was likely the source. Unfortunately, the source turned out to be baseless. The struggle to advance and develop West Papua is indeed happening especially against the existing inequality. But instead of contributing to improving the situation, the media seems to stonewall support to West Papua development.
Tabloidjubi.com, in its release on October 6, 2018, reported that there was a fire exchange between the law enforcement task force of Indonesian Military and Police and those claimed as armed civilian groups in the remote areas of Tingginambut district, Puncak Jaya, on October 1, 2018. The incident reportedly killed five civilians and two members of the armed group. It was also stated that in the five civilians there were pregnant women and children.
They claim that they obtain the number of dead victims from a human rights worker from the Kigmi church group.
“Five people who were killed in the firing contact were civilians. There were two children and a pregnant woman. The other two were members of the armed group,” said the human rights worker via telephone on Saturday (6/10/2018). – as reported by Tabloid Jubi.
Still from Tabloid Jubi, the human rights worker also revealed that the report he collected directly from Tingginambut and confirmed that the seven victims were found around residents’ homes. There are still other possible victims to be found in the deep forest because some residents ran into the woods during that fire exchange.
As soon as the Tabloid Jubi tabloid reported, Radio NZ quoted it. Unfortunately, RNZ did not mention that the news came from Tabloid Jubi. Furthermore, the Kiwi media seems to deliberately report without mentioning any clear resource person nor trying to find the valid information source before publishing it.
As one of the official media of the New Zealand government, RNZ should have had a sensible angle and position when reporting and covering crucial issues on West Papua. In the realm of media, especially those that have been well-established, reporting news with credible sources and correct exposure is civil and necessary. Also, the media should reflect the civility of the people they represent.
Seeing the pattern of RNZ’s and also Tabloid Jubi’s reporting, primarily the news discussed here, of course this bothers the civility and conscience of the public.
For Tabloid Jubi, this is such a thinking inability because the media claiming to be number one media in West Papua does not include the credible source and the person in charge of the news.
Especially for the RNZ, it is regrettable that the progressiveness of the Kiwi society does not match and link with the quality of the media. There seems like an imbalance between the quality of the news reported and information provided by the media such as RNZ with the reputation of the progressiveness and civility of New Zealand society.
RNZ bases its news on reports from fictitious sources referred to as a human rights worker without an accountable identity. In fact, it was also told that the human rights worker received reports from various other people without mentioning who the reporters were. What kind of information sourcing is that?
The detailed report also explained that civilians ran into the forest. This is a statement that is very unreasonable and fictitious. How could the people run into the woods while shooting happened in the woods, away from any settlement?
We all agree that the struggle of the West Papuan people to fight economic inequality must be fully supported in anyways. However, spreading fictitious news and information is definitely not a prudent choice to support the struggle.
In journalistic ethics, of course, the public who are civil and understand that any information collected and reported must be accountable both morally and legally. Do not present false news to the civilized public, especially if the resource person calls it from a religious institution. Hoaxes, slander, and fabricated info are the big enemies of any civilized society.
An independent investigation, in fact, has been carried out by the Indonesian Red Cross (Palang Merah Indonesia – PMI) which was assisted by law enforcement for security reasons. Information from PMI stated that the investigation was carried out on 6 October 2016 at the firing contact location on 1-2 October in Tingginambut District, Puncak Jaya Regency. PMI brought 18 people from various expertise led by Mr Gembala Yapinus Kogoya (Chairperson of the local PMI).
Previously, from the firing contact that occurred on October 1, a body associated with the armed criminal group led by Goliat Tabuni, was founded but could not be identified. From the fire exchange on October 2, two members of the armed group were killed and the bodies were found along with their weapons. One of them was identified as Dekilas Tabuni, the son of the leader group.
Then, from the investigation, two more bodies were found, about 50 meters from the Honai or the house that was used as headquarter by the armed group and also the location of the firing contact on October 1 last.
Mr. Gembala Yopinus Kogoya and his PMI member Yonibi Wanimbo stated that one of the bodies was Kopingga Tabuni and the other was a woman named Wepi Wonda who was identified as one of the wives of Goliat Tabuni.
After the identification of corpses was carried out, the body burning procession was carried out by PMI members.
So the total victims found due to gunfire were 5 people instead of 7 as reported by RNZ, and all of them were adults over the 20s and 40s. There were no children especially pregnant women. The results of the investigation also indicate that the location of the discovery of the corpse was not in the village or settlement but in the forest where the area of the fire exchange took place.
The investigation also concluded that there might be other victims who have not yet been found. However, due to the severity of the terrain, the long distance from any settlement and the bad weather, the investigation was stopped.
This investigation confirms that it is unfortunate that a well-established media such as the RNZ can provide fictitious information to the civilized public. In the midst of the many efforts made to develop West Papua, RNZ, which should be a supporter, has become a serious barrier.
While many people are busy giving up leisure time and opportunities to help improve the economy, education and health of West Papuans, Media like RNZ are busy spreading the fictional news. (*)
In picture: PMI members during the investigation