Monday, July 4, 2011

Why Udin Sedunia is more Famous than Transito?

Ade Armando –one of the expert on media and diversity in Indonesia–– illustrated the power of media with this simple metaphor, “Why Udin Sedunia is more famous than Transito?”

The power of media could decide which one is “the truth” and media also has power to change the “right thing” to be the “wrong thing” and vice versa.

Indonesia now has a new television actor, he is Udin Sedunia. Udin is being famous when he released his own video song on youtube site, and this video watched by over 1 million people. Salaudin the singer of Udin Sedunia comes from Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara. There is nothing wrong with him.

However, do Indonesian people know Transito? Maybe they don’t. Udin Sedunia is more famous than Transito although Udin and Transito are from Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara.  In Transito, there are 167 Ahamdiyah followers become refugees in their own country. Unluckily, media doesn't have any concerns on advocating this issue. Otherwise, media tends to be a funnel of conservatism in voicing that Ahmadiyah is heretic. In this case, media has judged Ahmadiyah followers.

The media, Ade suggested, should have a clear position on this situation. “Media has to advocate the victims. But in the reality, media only exploits these issues in terms of market purposes,” said Ade in the Public Discussion with theme “Conservatism in Media” held by SEJUK (Journalist Association for Diversity) in IAIN Mataram, Lombok, July 1, 2011.

Ade said that human rights problems are special cases because human rights have a close relationship through humanity. Human rights news is more important than any other issues. So, it needs affirmative action from the journalists to place it in the headline. As a journalist, Ade argued, "You have to realize that your position is quiet strategic, you could be a savior and peace maker. The main task of journalism is to voice the unvoiced."

Yongki the local human rights activist said that the press in Lombok is dominated by the local government. The government has around 30 percents share in some local media. As the result, the press has been lost their task to control the government. Otherwise, in the issue of Ahmadiyah, local media became the actor of violence while reporting Ahmadiyah is heretic. Media also did not criticize when the government neglected the Ahamdiyah followers became the target of violence. Government violated human rights because it didn't protect the basic rights of Ahamadiyah followers.

On facing this situation, Mohamad Natsir, lecturer from IAIN who was the other speaker, argued that as the journalist, he offered three ideas; (1) desecration, (2) contextualization, and (3) reinterpretation. Journalist has to criticize every single statement that comes from everyone, including from the religion leader.
Attended by more than 100 participants, this public discussion has proven that Mataram people are really concern on diversity issues, especially on Ahamdiyah case.

SEJUK continued the public discussion with a workshop to the press campus with a topic “A Guidance on Reporting Diversity Issues.” Attended by 25 participants (from 4 campuses in Mataram), this workshop has created all participants aware, and has changed their perspective, especially in seeing Ahmadiyah. Before they joined SEJUK, some of them saw Ahmadiyah was heretic.

As mentioned by Iko, one of the participants that he read a book about Ahmadiyah and he found by himself that the book was completely wrong after Iko directly met and interviewed the Ahmadiyah refugees in Transito. He said that he totally changed his point of view on Ahamdiyah now.

Neni felt this workshop could increase her sensitivity, especially on women and children as the most fragile victims in religious conflict. And she was really happy to join this workshop because now, she has a new perspective.

Irma, one of Ahamdiyah followers who joined this workshop, felt optimistic after having some friends in media who have committed to promote pluralism and have promised to give a special space (such as special reporting or special rubric) on their media. (awi)
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