Yuliana Lantipo, Jayapura, Jubi – The Alliance of Independence Journalist in Jayapura City (AJI Jayapura) said that journalists covering conflicts in Papua must have a perspective on human rights and report from the perspective of victims. Human interest stories, including stories of civilians directly affected by armed conflict, are considered rare and often missed by the media.
"It's important to first understand the urgency of writing with a human rights perspective. When a journalist understands what human rights are and puts it in their writing, it [would be] much better. No less important is writing from the perspective of the victim. In human rights violation cases, there must be perpetrators and victims," said AJI Jayapura chairman Lucky Ireeuw in a discussion titled "Violence in Papua from a Media Perspective" on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021.
Ireeuw admitted that writing from a victim's perspective was difficult. "Because they become victims and sometimes they don't want to open up. However, the media, especially journalists in Papua, must start from the perspective of the victim, to help these victims fulfill their rights," said the chief editor of the Cenderawasih Pos.
The news about the Papua conflict continues to increase, especially in online media. However, Ireeuw said, most of them only highlighted events between the two conflicting parties, namely the Indonesian Military (TNI) and police and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB). Meanwhile, the voices and cries of the civilians, who are always the victim of the conflict, are rarely covered by the media.
"Almost all of us media write about violent incidents, who shot who and how many victims. However, [journalists] forgot to see who the victims are and what are their stories, what were they doing at the time, how they took shelter, how they could sleep at night, how is the access to schools or hospitals, and most importantly, how do they get a sense of security and justice," Ireeuw further told Jubi on Tuesday.
Frits Ramandey, head of the Papua Representative Office of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), also emphasized that journalists and the media have a very important role in conveying facts to the public. He said it was important for all media professionals, from the media owners to the reporters, to have a victim and human rights perspective.
According to Ramandey, journalists were also considered humanitarian workers. "Considering the responsibility of having the perspective of human rights, journalists are qualified as human rights workers. The people voice their rights through journalists, the media is a medium to promote human rights," said Ramandey.
AJI Jayapura and Komnas HAM Papua Representative will organize training for journalists to follow up the discussion.
"Conflict and violence in Papua continue to escalate, as shown by verbal and non-verbal violence, reports of shootings, reports of evacuations, and closing of the community health centers and hospitals. So, in the near future, we will conduct training to increase journalists' capacity in reporting conflict with the perspective of victims and human rights," said Ramandey.