Suicide Photo On Cover Of Samoan Newspaper Brings Condemnation

Outrage at Samoa Observer over 'Shameful'  and 'disgusting' photograph, article

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, June 21, 2016) – “Shameful”, “Disgusting” are part of the stern condemnation of theSunday Samoan newspaper’s front page image of a dead person hanging from the rafters of a church hall and has prompted a complaint with the Ombudsman’s Office to investigate.

“We write to express our disgust and disappointment with the shocking treatment a deceased citizen received from the Samoa Observer. Their front page photo and article on Sunday 19th June 2016 removed all respect and decency deserved for the victim, Janine Tuivaiki,” says a letter signed by Gus and Bridget Crichton copied toTalamua.

“Janine allegedly committed suicide; the report on her suicide was damaging to suicide prevention efforts. It was irresponsible to not offer any advice or the helpline numbers to anyone in a similar situation from making inferences from it. Their report and accompanying picture, in my view served no purpose other than to marginalize Janine’s individuality and expression.

“Janine was also referred to in the article as a “he”, a “man” is contrasted by the photo of her wearing a dress in the photo they used. The seemingly deliberate or ignorant use of the wrong pronouns for Janine also perpetuate the hate and mistrust for individuals identifying as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Queer in our society.

“We wish to live and contribute in a society which offers freedoms and protection for all our citizens, the horrendous abuse of the freedom of the press provision by the Samoa Observer, a freedom enjoyed by all free societies, and to use it against Janine, her family and friends is something we do not stand for. We ask for the powers available with your office to sanction and condemn this injustice done today by the Samoa Observer.”

Strong comments of condemnation on social media target not only the image but the story that marginalized the dead person as a man dressed in woman’s clothing.

Jacinta Fa’alili-Fidow, Favona, New Zealand  says “Don’t spread the pictures nor the appalling article the Samoan Observer pass off as journalism. Instead spread love for our sister who was tortured to the point of no hope, and spread advocacy for the need to change our attitudes and behaviors towards others, especially our LGBT community, starting in our own homes, families and communities.”

The Samoa Observer Editor in Chief, Gatoaitele Savea Sano Malifa ina response today drew parallels in the ‘division’ over the Christian churches depicted in the front page that featured photos of Pope Francis meeting Prime Minister Tuilaepa, and Reverend Ma’auga Motu of the Fellowship of Christian Churches in Samoa. He says division causes violence that keeps growing in schools and villages today and “painful disunity is commonplace that everyone suffers.”

The Editor says that’s how it felt when the photograph showed up. “It’s a sad sight. But behind the sadness and the pain was the image of Jesus Christ hanging between earth and sky.”

He says “it was as if Jeanine Tuivaki was telling Prime Minister Tuilaepa and Pope Francis and Rev. Ma’auga to make friends with everyone and let there be peace.”

He said that was the inspiration that guided us to put that photo on the papers front page.

“It was never to demean, vilify or denigrate,” he says. “If you are offended by it still, all we can do is apologize.

But the response has not been accepted by many. ‪#‎shameful says “This “apology” is not good enough.”

Copyright © 2016 Talamua. All Rights Reserved

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