Cleric Compares Papua Media Coverage to Apartheid S. Africa
Cleric Compares Papua Media Coverage With Apartheid Era South Africa
By Victor Mambor of Jubi
JAYAPURA (West Papua Media / Jubi / Pacific Media Watch): News of Papua published by local and Indonesian national mass media has been likened to media operating under censorship in South Africa's apartheid era by Benny Giay, chairman of the Synod of Kingmi on West Papua.
Investors and the government were controlling the public mind in a discriminatory manner through journalists and mass media, he said.
"I think the news in the history of the community/state [means] totalitarian and repressive media owners are required to follow the will of the regime. They, the media managers or journalists who write the story from the perspective of a victimised by totalitarian and repressive regimes, are considered as trouble," Benny Giay told Tabloidjubi.com via mobile phone.
Septer Manufandu, executive secretary of Foker LSM Papua, said: "The news media and journalists are very discriminatory.
"This is a problem for us Papuans, because news like this fosters 'separatist stigma' and makes people think that the perpetrators of current terror and violence are the Papuans. Though police are not able to prove it," Septer told reporters.
According to Benny Giay, these circumstances indicate that media managers or journalists in this context were discriminating against Papuans.
However, he also understood that this situation could sometimes occur because the ruling regime had a financial stake in the media where journalists worked.
"Noam Chomsky has a view about this culture in which the investor or the authorities control the public mind with one-sided messages that discriminate against a sacrificial group. Journalists in West Papua are doing the same thing as journalists in South Africa during the apartheid era in the 1950s or in Indonesia in the 19th century. Nothing new in Papua," said Benny Giay.
Press freedom in South Africa has a fragmented history. Some sectors of the South African media could openly criticize the apartheid system and the National Party government, but they were hampered by government censorship for years.
Not many journalists in the apartheid era could draw clear boundaries between truth and the interests of the ruler. Of particular interest were the media companies they worked for.
At the time of apartheid, the control of journalists and mass media is very strong. The mass media were dominated by noise and propaganda from the apartheid regime.
One example was the death of Steve Biko, a South African student leader who founded the Black Consciousness Movement.
On 18 August 18, Biko was arrested by apartheid regime police on charges of violating South Africa Act, No. 38, 1967 on Terrorism.
He was interrogated by two police officers from Port Elizabeth, Harold Snyman and Gideon Nieuwoudt. The interrogation lasted 22 hours, including torture and beatings that resulted in Biko falling into a coma.
He suffered serious head injuries while in police custody and was chained to a window grille for a day. The mass media in South African did not write about his torture, instead reporting Biko was arrested for violating the Terrorism Act, until journalist (and now political leader) Helen Zille, along with editor and journalist Donald Woods, revealed the truth behind Biko's death.
Steve Biko died shortly after arriving at the Pretoria prison, on 12 September 1977. The police claimed his death was the result of Biko's hunger strike, but an autopsy revealed bruises and abrasions that caused a brain haemorrhage from a large wound in Biko's skull. The autopsy was powerful evidence that Biko was brutally beaten by his captors.
The attitudes of mass media in South Africa during the apartheid era over Biko's death is comparable to the attitude of local and Indonesian mass media in Indonesia around the death of Mako Tabuni, the vice-chairman of the National Committee of West Papua (KNPB).
Journalists and mass media only reported the view of the police, without any express testimony of actual witnesses.
Newspapers reported that Mako Tabuni was shot to death because he tried to resist police, while some witnesses expressed Mako Tabuni was shot without warning.
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