Images show domestic flight in Malaysia, not ‘Chinese citizens traveling to Indonesia’

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Two videos have been viewed thousands of times on Facebook, Instagram and Telegram, alongside a claim that Chinese citizens wearing outfits associated with an indigenous Indonesian group on a flight to Indonesia’s East Kalimantan province. The posts refer to a 1967 massacre of the Chinese ethnic minority in Kalimantan and suggest that Chinese passengers could suffer a similar fate. The claim is false; the videos actually circulated in social media posts and news stories about a group of natives from Sarawak – a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo – traveling to the Malaysian state of Sabah. A representative of the group told AFP that the two videos show native Malaysians on a domestic flight in the country.

The 44-second clip was posted to Facebook on May 4, 2022, where it has been viewed over 300 times.

It shows an airplane cabin in which some passengers can be seen wearing traditional clothing associated with indigenous groups in Indonesia’s Kalimantan provinces.

Screenshot of misleading post, taken May 19, 2022

The Indonesian-language caption of the post translates to English as: “Foreigners from China, potential residents of IKN, have started arriving wearing the traditional costumes of Dayak Kalimantan.

“Let’s hope that the tragedy MANGKOK MERAH volume 2 will take place.”

IKN stands for Ibu Kota Nusantara, the name of the future new Indonesian capital located in the province of East Kalimantan.

“Dayak” is a generic term referring to the indigenous people of Kalimantan.

The Mangkok Merah tragedy – also known as the Red Bowl incident – was a massacre of ethnic Chinese in North and West Kalimantan in 1967 by local aboriginals.

The same video has been viewed over 2,000 times after being shared with a similar claim here on Telegram, and on Facebook here and here.

Another video was also shared on Facebook alongside a similar claim on May 5, 2022.

The two-minute, 57-second clip shows people wearing similar traditional outfits entering an airplane cabin.

Screenshot of another misleading post, taken May 20, 2022

The same clip also circulated with a similar claim on Facebook here and here, as well as on Instagram here and here.

However, the videos were shared in a false context.

First video

A combined Google reverse image and keyword search found the identical video, posted to TikTok on May 1, 2022.

The post’s caption, written in English and the Iban language, reads: “Spirit! So proud to be a part of this historic event. Fight while we still breathe! Oooo ha!”

The TikTok user, who works as an AirAsia flight attendant, also posted other clips from the same event here, here and here.

Malaysian outlet The Star published a report on May 2, 2022, with images that match the TikTok video.

It was captioned: “‘Orang Asal’ group from Sarawak board flight in traditional costume”.

“Orang Asal” refers to the indigenous peoples of Sabah and Sarawak, the two Malaysian states of Borneo.

According to the report, a group of Sarawak natives boarded an AirAsia flight to Sabah’s capital Kota Kinabalu on April 30, 2022.

Below is a screenshot comparison between the video of the first misleading post (left) and the genuine video on TikTok (right):

Comparison of screenshots between the video of the first misleading message (left) and the authentic video on TikTok (right)

Second video

The second video was originally posted on the official Facebook page of The Borneo Post, an English-language East Malaysian newspaper, on April 30, 2022.

The caption reads: “It was a momentous day at Miri Airport today as 60 people dressed in traditional native Sarawakian costumes gathered to board an AirAsia flight to Kota Kinabalu.

“The group is participating in a cultural event in Sabah.”

Below is a screenshot comparison between the second misleading post video (L) and The Borneo Post video (R):

Screenshot comparison between the video from the second misleading post (L) and the video from The Borneo Post (R)

Aboriginal group

Activist Peter John Jaban, of a coalition of Sabah and Sarawak indigenous people, known as Gabungan Orang Asal Sabah/Sarawak (GOASS), told AFP he led the group featured in the two videos.

He said: “I reject the claim that [the video shows] the Chinese flying in Kalimantan.”

He said the group of 72 Sarawak natives took AirAsia flight AK6076 from Miri, a city in Sarawak, to Kota Kinabalu on April 30, 2022.

Flight tracking websites such as Flight Radar and Flight Aware confirm that flight AK6076 is a scheduled AirAsia flight from Miri to Kota Kinabalu.

Below are screenshots of the AK6076 flight data from Flight Aware and Flight Radar:

Flight Aware AK6076 flight data screenshot, taken May 19, 2022

Screenshot of Flight Radar’s AK6076 flight data, taken May 19, 2022

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