Monday, March 05, 2007

Salute to Dewa...!

Last Friday, when I got home a bit late, I spotted a pretty familiar face on TV; it's on Om Farhan’s show, to be exact.

That day, Om Farhan did not invite celebrities or other prominent figures to his show. As opposed to that, he exposed those faces that are usually hidden behind their huge camera: ANTV reporters. I didn’t watch the show since the very beginning, but as I arrived, I saw Dewa’s face on screen.

I met Dewa ocassionally in several events. He is a big and tall guy with friendly smile who always stands out in the crowd. As a reporter in ANTV, Dewa sometimes come over to Maverick client’s public activities—mainly entertainment and urban activities. And sometimes sport. Thus, I was a bit surprised to see Dewa in Om Farhan that night, since Om Farhan was discussing about dedication in journalism, the risks and dangers awaited the journalists, and some ‘breath-taking’ moments that happened while they’re performing their job.

I gasped when I heard the story that actually Dewa was once being beaten by Brimob officials in Kotaraja, Papua, while reporting the succession of Kasat Brimobda Papua. This incident has also been reported in Seri Papua Aktual no. 5 published by Sekretariat Keadilan & Perdamaian Keuskupan Jayapura in June 2006 (p.16). I texted Dewa that night, and gave him a salute. Dewa replied humbly to that: ”Wow, I’m so ashamed. Hehehe. I don’t know that people will watch tonight’s show...”

I believe that there are lots of other ‘Dewa’ out there. Dedicated journalists who are just trying to perform their duty, and received unlikely treatment from opposing parties—a treatment that violate human rights; a treatment that could risk the journalists’ life. It reminds me of Kompas Cyber Media’s senior editor’s comment, Mas Cahyo Sasongko, on last year’s World Press Freedom Day. “Yang pasti, wartawan Indonesia itu many threats, less protection. Ada 3 unsur pelindung sekaligus ancaman: owner, state and society. Kita bermain di 3 unsur ini.”

However, we hope that threats experienced by Indonesian journalists won’t reduce their spirit to speak up and tell the truth to the whole wide world. Because we need transparency. Because we need to know the truth about what’s happening out there. And oftentimes, in this country, you’ve got to pay a very expensive price just for telling the truth.

What a shame.

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