Category Archives: syndication

HRW: Indonesia: End Access Restrictions to Papua

Press release

For Immediate Release
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Indonesia: End Access Restrictions to Papua
Official Obstacles for Foreign Media and Monitors Defy Presidential Order

(Jakarta, November 11, 2015) – Indonesian authorities continue to restrict access by foreign journalists and rights monitors to Indonesia’s easternmost provinces of Papua, raising serious concerns about the government’s commitment to media freedom, Human Rights Watch said today in a new report. The restrictions defy a May 10, 2015 announcement by Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo – popularly known as Jokowi – that accredited foreign media would have unimpeded access to Papua.

“Government access restrictions have for far too long made Papua Indonesia’s ‘forbidden island’ for foreign media and rights monitors,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Blocking media access on overbroad ‘security’ grounds deters foreign news reporting about Papua, raising troubling questions about what the Indonesian government might be trying to hide there.”

The 75-page report, “Something to Hide?: Indonesia’s Restrictions on Media Freedom and Rights Monitoring in Papua,” documents the government’s role in obstructing access to the provinces of Papua and West Papua (collectively referred to as “Papua”), including government backlash since Jokowi’s announcement.

The decades-old access restrictions on Papua are rooted in government suspicion of the motives of foreign nationals in a region still troubled by widespread corruption, environmental degradation, public dissatisfaction with Jakarta, and a small pro-independence insurgency.

Human Rights Watch interviewed 107 journalists, editors, publishers, and representatives of domestic and international nongovernmental organizations for the report. Foreign correspondents describe an opaque and unpredictable permit application process in which they often never received a final response. Many have waited fruitlessly for months – and in some cases years – for approval.

Jokowi’s May 10 announcement has faced strong resistance by some senior government and security forces officials, Human Rights Watch said. The government has also not followed that announcement with a specific written directive, which opened space for non-compliance by state agencies and security forces opposed to loosening restrictions on foreign observer access to Papua. Various senior officials have since publicly contradicted the president’s statement. Even the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has announced that it has “liquidated” the 18-agency “Clearing House” that previously was used to vet journalists, has confirmed that prior police permission is still required for foreign media access to Papua. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in some cases also continuing to ask some journalists seeking to travel to Papua to provide, in advance, details of their likely sources and dates of travel.

Foreign correspondents have reported mixed results from their efforts to take advantage of the announced loosening of Papua access restrictions. For instance, after Jokowi’s announcement, the Indonesian embassy in Bangkok processed and granted in just 15 days a Papua reporting visa for Cyril Payen, a Bangkok-based correspondent for France 24 television. The embassy also assured him that he was not obligated to have any check-ins with police or immigration officials while in Papua. “Whether I was lucky or not, I don’t know,” Payen said. “They really opened up.”

However, a Jakarta-based foreign correspondent showed Human Rights Watch a copy of correspondence with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from July 2015 in which a ministry official listed both a surat jalan, or travel permit, from the National Police’s Security Intelligence Agency, as well as a “letter of notification” specifying the journalist’s “purpose, time and places of coverage in Papua,” as prerequisites for access to Papua.

Foreign journalists who ultimately are granted Papua access permits often face surveillance and harassment after arrival in Papua. Several said that they were required to have an official “minder” from the State Intelligence Agency (Badan Intelijen Negara, BIN) for the full duration of their visits, significantly limiting their ability to report on issues deemed sensitive.

“President Jokowi needs to bridge the gap between rhetoric and reality by putting the guarantee of unimpeded foreign media access to Papua in writing,” Kine said. “He should make it clear to government officials and security forces alike that obstructing journalists is unacceptable in Papua and anywhere else in Indonesia.”

Indonesian journalists – particularly ethnic Papuans – are also vulnerable to restrictions on media freedom in Papua, Human Rights Watch said. Reporting on corruption and land grabs can be dangerous anywhere in Indonesia, but national and local journalists told Human Rights Watch that those dangers are magnified in Papua. In addition, journalists there face harassment, intimidation, and at times even violence from officials, members of the public, and pro-independence forces when they report on sensitive political topics and human rights abuses.

Journalists in Papua say they routinely self-censor to avoid reprisals for their reporting. That environment of fear and distrust is increased by the security forces’ longstanding and documented practice of paying some journalists to be informers and even deploying agents to work undercover in newsrooms as journalists. These practices are carried out both to minimize negative coverage and to encourage positive reporting about the political situation, and they generate distrust among journalists.

Representatives of international nongovernmental organizations, United Nations experts, and foreign academics have also faced official obstacles to visiting Papua. Since 2009, the International Committee for the Red Cross, the Dutch development organization Cordaid, and the Peace Brigades International have all limited or closed their Papua-based operations due to pressures from the Indonesian government.

In 2013, the Indonesian government blocked a proposed visit by Frank La Rue, then the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Diplomatic sources in Geneva told La Rue that the Indonesian government froze his requested visit due to his inclusion of Papua in his proposed itinerary. “[The Indonesian mission in Geneva] asked what areas I want to go to [and] I said Jakarta and bigger places like Bali, but for me, I said, it was very important to visit Aceh and Papua,” La Rue told Human Rights Watch. “They said ‘Great, we’ll get back to you.’ What it meant was that they postponed the dates and put the trip off indefinitely.”

“It’s clear from our research that removing access restrictions is not a silver bullet to resolve Papua’s deep-seated problems or dispel the suspicions of Indonesian officials toward foreign media and other observers,” Kine said. “But greater transparency and access are essential elements of a rights-respecting future for Papua to throw sunshine on abuses of power that for too long have remained hidden from view.”

For accounts from the report, please see below.

“Something to Hide?: Indonesia’s Restrictions on Media Freedom and Rights Monitoring in Papua” is available at:

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Indonesia, please visit:

For more information, please contact:
In Jakarta, Andreas Harsono (English, Indonesian): +62-815-950-9000 (mobile); or
In Jakarta, Phelim Kine (English, Mandarin): +62-812 10877314 (mobile) or +1-212-810-0469 (US mobile); or Twitter: @PhelimKine
In San Francisco, Brad Adams (English): +1 347-463-3531 (mobile); or
In Sydney, Elaine Pearson (English): +61-400-505-186 (mobile); or Twitter: @pearsonelaine
In Washington, DC, John Sifton (English): +1-646-479-2499 (mobile); or Twitter: @johnsifton

Accounts from “Something to Hide?”

Rohan Redheya, a Dutch freelance photojournalist who applied in The Hague for a journalist visa to Papua in July 2014, said that although the Indonesian embassy informed him that the approval process was “around two weeks,” the embassy never responded to his application. “I know many journalists who got ignored [by Indonesian visa issuance offices], and they simply never heard something again [after submitting a Papua access application].”

“The Clearing House system of consensus voting means any one person has veto power, which generally means that the opinion of the most paranoid person in the meeting carries the day. These restrictions fuel all manner of speculation about Papua: the notion that the Indonesian government has ‘something to hide’ finds purchase. But the Indonesian government finds itself in the illogical position where they hear of inflammatory reporting and this actually makes them impose restrictions, and then those restrictions prevent good journalists from writing of the complexities of the place.”
– Bobby Anderson, a social development specialist and researcher who worked in Papua from 2010 to 2015, describing the government’s “Clearing House” screening of foreign journalists seeking to report from Papua.

Marie Dhumieres, a French journalist, received a police permit to go to Papua in September 2015. A week later the police arrested and questioned three Papuan activists whom she interviewed. She published this tweet to President Jokowi, and the activists were soon released: “So Mr @jokowi, foreign journalists are free to work anywhere in Papua but the people we interview get arrested after we leave?”

“If you read all the news reports in all newspapers in Manokwari [in Papua], you will see that their sources are almost all, almost 100 percent, government officials. Their sources are always government officials, police officers, or military officers.”
– Agusta Bunay, a Papua Barat TV presenter, on self-censorship among journalists fearful of possible reprisals for independent reporting.

Warinussy: More makar cases in Papua

Comment by Yan Christian Warinussy, senior lawyer in West Papua, recipient of the John Humphreys Freedom Award, 2005
December 13, 2013

The latest treason verdict against seven West Papuans is yet another example of the serious human rights situation in West Papuan, in particular with regard to the right to freedom of expression. The seven men were headed by Isak Kalaiban.

Based on the facts revealed during the course of the trial, it is clear that there was a plan between the accused to freely give expression to their views in a way that is based on the rule of law.
This occurred on 1 May 2013 after Isak and his colleagues brought the families of the accused together on the previous day at their home  in Aimas-Sorong. While they were meeting together,  a police patrol in Sorong began to opened fire at the group of people, as a result of which four people were killed or wounded.
At the trial, the men were charged with treason (makar)  by the court in Sorong before a panel of judges headed by Maria Magdalena Sitanggung.
None of the witnesses questioned at the trial said anything about what had taken place on the day before, 30 April.
For the legal team defending the accused, the question is who indeed is it that perpetrated treason in view of the fact that none of the witnesses who appeared in the trial knew anything about the men who were being charged.
This is yet another case in which the accused were charged under Articles 106, 108  and 110 to prevent people in Sorong from giving free expression to their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly  as provided for by Law 39/1999 on Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Translated by Carmel Budiardjo

Scepticism as Papuan governor Enembe invites foreign journalists to Papua

Tabloid Jubi

by Alexander Leon

October 9, 2013

JAYAPURA, 9/10 – Papuan Provincial Governor, Lukas Enembe, shows progress by inviting foreign journalists to visit the most Eastern part of Indonesia.

“Yes, why not? Of course they can come here, there is no problem, because foreign journalists must see straight away the progress which is happening here in Papua,” said Governor Lukas Enembe to journalists in Jayapura, Wednesday (9/10).

What has happened or occurred in Papua cannot be hidden, because the outside world must also know what is actually happening in Papua. If this matter is hidden, the outside world will ask questions.

“Foreign journalists must see the progress which is happening in Papua. We can’t hide what is definitely happening here, but if we are open they can see the massive changes which are occurring,” he said.

Before, Independent Journalist Alliance (AJI) a press organisation, has not yet seen a positive reaction from the Indonesian government about the international community’s demands which are to allow open access for international journalists in Papua. In 2012, Marty Natalegawa the Indonesian Foreign Minister, said to a group of foreign journalists in Indonesia that there were 35 foreign journalists who were given access to the Papuan Province from 2011 – 2012. Although these journalists experienced Papua, not all journalists can gain coverage of the news in Papua.

“Seven foreign journalists have been deported from Papua because of their journalistic work. Marty then promised to review this case, although he confessed he was worried about their safety,” said Jayapura’s AJI Worker’s Union & Avocation’s co-ordinator, Jack Wally.

According to AJI Jayapura, who reject Marty’s statement saying some journalists from New Zealand, Netherlands, England and Australia all experienced difficulties when submitting and applying for entry visas into Papua. AJI Jayapura sees the Indonesian government as not having an attitude which is clear between limiting and opening a space for foreign journalists, because there’s not yet any formal regulations which limit foreign journalists from entering Papua, but in practice international journalists believe they’re limited because of the difficulties in obtaining an entry visa. AJI Jayapura see this situation as proving the grey space which allows the hampering of independent and free press processes in Indonesia, which in turn has the potential to downgrade Indonesia in the World Press Freedom Index.

(Editor: Cunding Levi, translated by West Papua Media translators)

PMW: Activists ‘forced’ to leave consulate, call for greater press freedom

by Daniel Drageset, Pacific Media Watch

October 7, 2013

West Papuan student activists Rofinus Yanggam (left), Yuvensius Goo and Markus Jerewon (right) left the Australian consulate in Bali Sunday. Image: Marni Cordell
West Papuan student activists Rofinus Yanggam (left), Yuvensius Goo and Markus Jerewon (right) left the Australian consulate in Bali Sunday. Image: Marni Cordell

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): Three West Papuan student activists entered the Australian consulate in Bali this weekend with calls on Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to open up for greater press freedom and push Indonesia to release at least 55 political prisoners jailed in the Indonesian-ruled region.

“We want the Indonesian government to lift the 50 year restriction it has imposed on West Papua.

“We want foreigners, including journalists, diplomats, observers and tourists to be able to visit West Papua freely without asking for special permits,” the West Papuans wrote in an open letter addressed to the Australian people.

The student activists said in the letter they wanted to deliver a message to the leaders attending the 25th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bali this weekend.

Several organisations have asked Australia to give sanctuary to the three West Papuans, but according to Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb the West Papuans did not seek asylum.

“They left [the consulate] voluntarily so the matter’s been resolved,” Robb said, according to Radio Australia.

The Guardian, however, reported that the consul-general had warned the three West Papuans that the Indonesian army would be called if they did not leave the consulate.

One of the students, Rofinus Yanggam, told the newspaper the group left in fear of their lives.

Calls for sanctuary
Australian independent senator Nick Xenophon called on Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to give sanctuary to the three West Papuans.

“These three young men were not asking for West Papuan independence from Indonesia. All they were asking for is entirely consistent with the Lombok Treaty of 2006, signed by both Australia and Indonesia,” he said, according to AAP.

“Instead of getting sanctuary and help, the Australian government effectively threatened them and now there is serious concern over the activists’ safety,” Xenophon said.

Professor Clinton Fernandes at the University of New South Wales backed Xenophon’s call.

He said when the media circus had moved on after APEC, the trio “may be tried, most certainly they will be beaten, and at some point might be disappeared”.

Rinto Kogoya, co-ordinator of the Alliance of Papuan Students, said it was time the world understood what was happening inside the province, which was officially acquired by Indonesia in 1969.

“The international community doesn’t know the reality in Papua. The military oppresses the civil society – we’re not free to do anything – and I think this is the moment to open democracy to Papua,” he said in The Guardian.

‘Great concern’
Joe Collins, of the Australia West Papua Association (AWPA), was alarmed by the events at the Australian consulate in Bali.

“It’s of great concern that they [the West Papuan students] may have been coerced to leave as the students would have great reason to fear the Indonesian security forces.

“There are ongoing human rights abuses in West Papua and the security forces have been banning and cracking down on recent rallies to try and stop international attention being focused on the territory,” he said in a statement.

AWPA wrote a letter to the consul-general Brett Farmer in Bali yesterday asking for “clarification” regarding the students.

“We understand that they have now left the consulate and we would like clarification from you if they left voluntarily or as some media reports have indicated that they were told that they would be handed over to the Indonesian military if they did not leave,” AWPA wrote in the letter.

Australian Green senator Dr Richard Di Natale has also joined those who have called for Australia to give sanctuary to the three West Papuans.

“By speaking out in this way, these brave West Papuans have put their lives in serious danger.

“If Australia fails to offer them protection, I have grave fears for their safety,” he said in a statement.

‘Stand up to Indonesia’
Yet another senator to voice his support for West Papua this weekend was John Madigan.

“It is about time our government had the courage to stand up to Indonesia, instead of ignoring the issue of West Papuan oppression and the human rights abuses that occur there on a daily basis,” he said in a statement.

He also said he demanded that the Australian government provided sanctuary for the three West Papuans.

The issue of the West Papuan students came just days after pleas from several organisations that Australia should not deport seven West Papuans who arrived in the Torres Strait Islands in northern Queensland recently.

The group of seven, who took part in the recent West Papua Freedom Flotilla sought asylum in Australia, but were deported to Papua New Guinea under a memorandum of understanding between Australia and Papua New Guinea, Radio New Zealand International reported.

Refugee advocates in Australia said the deportation failed to abide by the Refugee Convention that Australia was a party to.

Spokesperson for the West Papua Freedom Flotilla Izzy Brown said she wanted to draw the United Nations’ attention to Australia’s commitment to the Refugee Convention.

“It’s really unfortunate that Australia thinks it can send asylum seekers offshore without due process or just blatantly illegally deported like in this case here, and we really want to try and draw the world’s attention and especially the UN’s attention to Australia’s behaviour in this matter,” she said.

Read the West Papuan students letter to “the people of Australia”

Creative Commons Licence

About the author

PMW contributing editor

Daniel Drageset is a Norwegian radio journalist enrolled in the Master in Communication Studies degree at AUT University.

Edison Kendi re-arrested in Yapen by Kopassus as police crackdwon on Flotilla rally

September 27, 2013

Compiled by West Papua Media stringers and reports from  West Papua National Authority:

At 8pm on the 25th of September 2013 in Serui, Yapen Island, members of police, mobile brigade, military and Detachment 88 complete with weapons made a forceful arrest of former Papuan political prisoner and organsiser, Edison Kendi. Edison’s family watched on, unable to do anything but witness the brutality carried out by the security personnel against Kendi.  He was taken to the Serui Police station and interrogated.  At 11pm police continued to destroy property around Kendi’s house while looking for documents thought to be related to the Freedom Flotilla,  however nothing was found.

The next day, 26th September 2013 several thousand people did a pick-up at the Serui airport, and walked to Mantembu, as a thanksgiving worship to welcome the arrival of ashes and water that were taken to Yapen Island by Frans Kapisa. Two people who intended to come and participate in the thanksgiving were Demmiamus Brumi and Nataneal Karubaba, however they were prevented from exercising their freedom of expression and obstructed by security personnel, forcefully arrested and taken to the Serui Police Station, according to credible but anonymous sources.

As the thanksgiving was taking place, the security forces forcefully dispersed the crowd, threw away all the food that was provided by the community in Serui, according to witnesses.  The situation escalated into panic according to organisers, several of the participants and organisers protected Frans Kapisa and brought him to a place which they judged to be safe.

According to sources for West Papua Media, “Not only the participants were victims of the police brutality but also the whole community of Yapen Island. At that point in time the people where not able to carry out any activities whatsoever. The District Police Chief (Kapolres) also instructed his forces to fire should there be any resistance from the people.  After 8pm, 3 of the people arrested where released, namely Edison Kendi, Demianus Burumi and Natanael Karubaba.

The following people are still on the run from the police, and grave fears are held for their long term safety;

1. Drs . Frans Fredrik Kapisa
2. Markus Yenu
3. Martinus Wondamani
4. Marselus Daimboa
5. Yani Manyamboi
6. Piter Tiowai
7. Agus Ayamseba
8. Herman Warmetan
9. Ruben Bonay
10. Asalon Wanggori

Eduard Paririe, a Papuan activist in Yapen told West Papua Media, “that whatever the security forces (do) against the people does not diminish their will to struggle and demand justice in the land of Papua.


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The following is information direct from West Papua National Authority:

The situation has begun un 25 September 2013 as West Papuan National Authority activists heard on Radio Republik Indonesia that the chief of police in Yapen had prohibited all Papuans in Yapen from taking part in a demonstration planned for 26 September.

The police under the command of the head of Criminal Investigation [Kabag Reskrim Polres] arrested Edison Kendi (40 years old), a political leader of Papua Merdeka at his home at 8 pm. This action involved twenty policemen who were not dressed in their uniforms, together with two members of Kopassus. Some of the police were armed with M16s and pistols and were travelling in Avansa 2 vehicles, one of which was black and the other two were white, together with a patrol vehicle.

The police said that these people had been arrested because they had not been granted permission to undertake this action and moreover, the group in question is not registered  with the National and Political Unit as is required by the Law on Mass Organisations (Ormas) . They were intending to hand over the holy waters to the Aboriginal People from Torres  Straits and were accompanied by Drs Frans Kapisa.

Edison Kendi was arrested in accordance with a warrant issued by the police in Yapen and signed by the head of the unit.

Edison Kendi was  taken to police headquarters to be interrogated. This interrogation is still continuing.

Following the arrested of Edison Kendi, more police arrived in two trucks to search Edison’s home, hoping to find evidence against him such as documents of Papua Merdeka. This happened late at night, at 10.22.


On 26 September at 7.12 in the morning, the Yapen police force carried out sweepings and arrested  Demianus Buruni while he was on his way to the Serui Airport where he was intending to take part in welcoming Drs Frans Kapisa while was bringing the holy waters and dust from the Aboriginal people. The other reason for Demianus’ arrest was that he was carrying a Morning Star flag. At the time of writing this report, Demianus was still being interrogated.

At 11.34, a joint force of the army and the police in Yapen led by the chief of the military unit and the chief of the police force went to the place where  the proceedings to hand over the holy waters and dust from Aboriginal people  in Mantembu were due to take place. The army and police also ordered the people there to disperse and to vacate the area where these activities were taking place. They also ordered the arrest of Dra Frans Kapisa  and Markus Yenu. Subsequently however, the local people were able to free these two men.

At the time of writing, the security forces were  on guard in the area where the command post of Papua Merdeka  in Kampung Mantebu is located.

[Translated by TAPOL]