News pixman punched at MH17 funeral
New Straits Times photographer Aizuddin Saad was punched while covering the funeral of MH17 passengers in Kuala Lumpur earlier today, apparently after ignoring family wishes for privacy. A video posted by Malaysiakini shows a family member approaching the photographer and throwing a punch at him.
It was not known what had transpired between the photographer and family members before the incident occurred. A large crowd of reporters and photographers had gathered at the Nirvana memorial centre in Sungei Besi to cover the funerals, and were at a side entrance, at the receiving area for hearses, when the incident took place.
A family member was quoted by the Star this evening as saying: “I do not understand why the media thinks that we have to share our private moments with them. Do we owe you (the media) that? If this happens to your loved ones, probably you can feel the same pain and anger as we are going through now.”
He also questioned why MAS and the funeral parlour had released details to the press.
One journalist who was covering the event said family members had twice requested press photographers not to continue taking photographs. “I backed off the first time the families shouted ‘no press, no taking photos,'” he said in a message on Facebook, and pointed out that the government had asked the press on Monday to respect the families’ privacy.
Later in the evening, a journalists’ action group, Geramm, issued a statement calling for public cooperation with media staff. “It must be admitted that the coverage of MH17 (much like other tragedies) is a real test of the media’s professionalism in managing the sensitivities of family members involved,” the statement said. “Geramm, however, urges all quarters to understand and cooperate with the media who are only performing their duties without intention to add on to the burden faced by family members.”
Other journalists discussing the issue asked whether the press had been invited to cover the event, and if not, on how the press should behave at what was essentially a private affair. According to Aizuddin’s police report lodged at the Sungai Besi station, the family member had kicked his camera as he was photographing an attempted assault of another photographer (who managed to escape), while all of them were crowding around the hearse that arrived from KLIA at around 10.50am.
A broadcast journalist who covered the MH370 disaster said the crew had talked over how they should shoot the video and how not to get too close, in order to give the families space to grieve.
Alyaa Alhadjri, writing at the Ant Daily, said Aizuddin suffered a bloody nose and damage to his camera.
She quoted a newspaper reporter as saying that after the family had shouted “No Press, No Photographs”, they had backed off but Aizuddin had remained in the area, posing for photographs with his broken equipment. “The same man who broke the camera attacked unprovoked but I also question if the photographer couldn’t find a better spot to do it (check his broken camera) rather than just a few metres away from the hearses,” the reporter was quoted as saying.
Federal police later issued a statement asking both family members and the press to respect each others’ situations.