Tag Archives: violence against media

West Papua is still dangerous for journalism: Urgent reminder to all foreign journalists applying to report in West Papua

WestPapuaMedia Editorial / Urgent Safety Briefing

May 11, 2015

WestPapuaMedia is greatly concerned that the statements made on May 9 by Indonesian President Joko (Jokowi) Widodo in Jayapura regarding the ending of the foreign media ban for journalists to visit West Papua, is not being given due diligence by foreign media, and reminds all foreign media workers that West Papua is and still remains an incredibly dangerous place for journalists to report, and present an even greater threat to the safety of all journalism sources.

A full analysis of the actuality of the so-called “lifting” of the foreign media ban in West Papua will be released by West Papua Media’s team in the coming days, including analysis from our clandestine journalists who operate daily in the reality of the Papuan media environment, under threat constantly from Indonesian security forces.

This statement was made in the context of travelling the following day to Papua New Guinea, in bid to quash Melanesian support for West Papuan aspirations for self-determination, specifically the West Papuan bid to be granted observer status at the upcoming Melanesian Spearhead Group meetings

Despite Jokowi’s graceful and well executed “Juru Bicara” (Straight Talking) image, the reality on the ground in West Papua is that he has little control over the actions of security forces.  In west Papua.  Journalists, media workers, fixers and sources are routinely denied access, harassed, surveilled physically and electronically,, threatened, arrested, monstered, beaten, disappeared and even murdered by all the various organs of Indonesian colonial control in West Papua, with a list of perpetrators including (but not limited to) Police, Australian Trained Detachment 88 anti-terror commandos, military, National Intelligence Body (BIN), military intelligence, police intelligence, Kopassus special forces, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, forestry officials, customs, immigration, mining officials, Indonesian bureaucrats, pro-Jakarta transmigrant militias, and the ever-present Ojek (motorbike taxi) riders / intelligence officers.

The media freedom status in West Papua reached its lowest point in 2011, due to a series of murders, stabbings and disappearances of journalists across West Papua  This situation that prompted Reporters Without Borders to rank Indonesia at 146 out of 180 in the World Press Freedom Index, only climbing to 139th place for 2014, due to international monitoring led by West Papua Media and our network partners in West Papua.

This lifting of the foreign media ban is completely without power or credibility until both a formal Presidential Instruction is made, together with a national law is passed and enforced that penalizes anyone who prevents free, full and unfettered access for ALL media workers in Papua.

Jokowi’s real attitude is telling however.  Just a few hours later in Merauke, he was quoted in Antara with his real attitude to “media freedom” in West Papua. “Don’t ask that question, that’s enough,” Antara quoted Jokowi saying when he was asked about a fact that usually foreign journalists prefer to cover activities of illegal armed groups.

Operating in West Papua for journalists will remain an extremely dangerous activity.  Even though it is unlikely a foreign journalist will be physically harmed it is not unknown.  Foreign journalists have been beaten, poisoned, interrogated, and some have died in highly suspicious circumstances in the past.

However, it is journalists’ sources that are most at risk, especially if communications and data are left unsecured.  All journalists have an unbreakable ethical duty to ensure the safety of sources, and without specific technologies used.  West Papua Media has a suite of digital and practical technologies developed from our Safe Witness Journalism training units, and we also can provide secure handsets for journalists travelling to West Papua.

West Papua Media also can provide an unparalleled secure fixing service that ensures foreign journalists are fully briefed to the security situation in all parts of Papua, and to be able to report without putting any sources at risk.

Last August, one person died, many went into hiding, and 5 were arrested due to unsecured data, notes, emails and phone calls allegedly held by the two French journalists arrested in Wamena in August, against the express guarantees on source security given to West Papua Media.

Only journalists can prevent their sources being put in danger.  Make no mistake, Indonesian occupation forces will harm journalists’ sources and journalists seeking to report on human rights abuses and violations of freedom of expression.  We suggest all journalists seeking to report on Papua read our Source Protection Policy for more information, and contact us to arrange training for full data and communications security for mobile journalism.  WPM also offers the ONLY civil resistance coverage media safety training available, which we can arrange for a  reasonable cost.

However, WPM remains sceptical on the latest claims of lifting the foreign media ban.  There have been too many previous claims that this will end, including several by Jokowi himself. Let’s wait and see how and if the security forces even listen to their president.

There are some minimum tests that will prove if the media ban is lifted in Papua:

  • Will the most outspoken foreign journalists be allowed to report from West Papua with full media freedom and access?
  • A large number of Independent and Mainstream Journalists who have previously reported inside West Papua have been threatened and banned from WP by security forces – will our bans be lifted?
  • Journalists who seek to report on topics opposed by government or security forces must be allowed full and free access without let, danger or hindrance from security forces.
  • One of the WPM editors still have outstanding arrest warrants on Makar (Treason and Subversion), Destabilisation and Espionage charges for Legitimate journalism activities – charges that need to be rescinded immediately;
  • the assassination threats on all sources and journalists, including WPM staff, need to be ended, and those making them arrested;
  • all DPO (Daftar Pencarian Orang – or Wanted Persons list) listings on all media workers in Papua must be cancelled;
  • all journalists must be allowed free and unfettered access across Papua and West Papua without intelligence agencies, police or military harassment, surveillance (physical or electronic) or intimidation of journalists, witnesses, sources, fixers and assistants or their families;
  • and of course, free and unfettered access to ALL areas of Papua, including mining, forestry and resource extraction areas, prisons, and military operations areas .

To reiterate, until these minimum conditions are guaranteed by an actual InPres (Presidential Instruction) in law, with penalties enforced for any official that prevents or ignores it, then this is just an utterance.

Nevertheless, Jokowi did say it, he was interviewed about it, and this was the statement that was made. Whether or not it is really enacted doesn’t take away from the fact that here is a clear undertaking.

Of course, letting in foreign journalists who don’t believe the hype, who are currently on charge or banned from West Papua by Indonesia will be the real test.

And making sure that the police and military answer critical questions when they kill civilians is part of that (including not hanging up on phone calls from WPM).  It is highly unlikely that the State Violence Forces are going to suddenly stop tailing and harming journalists, human rights defenders and media workers, unless they are arrested for it.

WPM will still operate with great scepticism the alleged lifting of the Foreign media Ban in West Papua, and about anything Jakarta (or any government) ever says: that is the job of journalism. WPM will still need to operate clandestinely, and we will still need support to train and supply people for safe witness journalism. Now more than ever, West Papua Media needs you support to train and supply independent clandestine journalists with the tools to safely report from the ground in West Papua.  It costs $3000 to support one journalist with secure and robust equipment for mobile newsgathering, $3000 to provide intensive Safe Witness Journalism training.  You can help by visiting this page to make a donation or longer term support.

This alleged end of the media ban is stage-managed and not at all genuine.  As far as we are concerned, the Papua Media Blackout remains firmly in place.

WestPapuaMedia Editorial

Chairman of AJI Jayapura: Importance of Open Access to Foreign Journalists into Papua

by Arnold Belau at our partner Tabloid Jubi

April 29, 2015

Pioneering West Papua journalist Victor Mambor, Chairman of Journalists Alliance (AJI) Papua, Editor of Tabloid Jubi, media freedom advocate and Journalism trainer (photo: Jubi
Pioneering West Papua journalist Victor Mambor, Chairman of Journalists Alliance (AJI) Papua, Editor of Tabloid Jubi, media freedom advocate and Journalism trainer (photo: Jubi)

Jayapura, Jubi – Chairman of Journalists Alliance (AJI) in Jayapura city, Victor Mambor, said it is very important to open access to foreign journalists into Papua in order to avoid misinterpretations of Papua.

 The issue was delivered by Victor in an interview with AJI Indonesia in Jakarta at the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) 2015, Tuesday (29/04/2015).

Victor explained that the media in Papua continues to grow, but the challenges are also growing ranging from human resources, financial, ethical and positioning journalists.

In Papua, as the media grows, so too is the presence of journalists.

“However it is true that a journalist in skill and ethics cannot always grow in parallel. If there are challenges, there is still not much of a significant change. Journalists still face threats of violence with the same quality as in previous years,” said Victor.

Papua which is broad and extensive, has become the greatest difficulty faced by foreign journalists. The conditions make the confirmation process, covering both sides, and verification difficult. Often, news from Papua becomes incomplete and with bias ruling.

“Every year there are 4 or 5 foreign journalists who question to myself regarding the situation in Papua. Most of them could not enter Papua. From their information, I can conclude they are not well served when submitting an application for reporting in Papua. In fact, there is no decision ever made, permitted or not,” said Victor.

Victor said that the more closed the access is, the more questions the international community will ask about what is happening in Papua.

“The conflict in Papua could be clarified in a comprehensive manner to the public through information which is submitted by journalists,” said Victor, who is also the Chief Editor of Jubi News and Jubi Online.

He said, to open access for foreign journalists into Papua, the issue that is very important and must be carried is the clarification of regulations for foreign journalists in Papua.

“Besides the campaign for open access for foreign journalists in Papua, lobby stakeholders who are related to the issue that need to be carry out the goal of clarifying regulations for foreign journalists. This is the main problem, unclear regulations,” he asserted.

WPFD proclaimed to the UN General Assembly that in 1993, the recommendations of this matter, was adopted it in the 26th Session of the UNESCO Conference in 1991. Recommendations and the trial were also in response to the calls of African journalists in 1991 for principles of media pluralism and independence, which resulted in the Declaration of Windhoek.  [Editor : Dewi Wulandari]

 translated by WestPapuaMedia

Violence and intimidation of journalists in Papua in 2012

27 December 2012
The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) has recorded twelve cases of violence and intimidation against journalists Papua  during 2012,which is a significant increase as compared with 2011, when there were seven cases.
Journalists in Jayapura hold Demo to Reject Violence Against Journalists. (Jubi / Arjuna)
Journalists in Jayapura hold Demo to Reject Violence Against Journalists. (Jubi / Arjuna)

The first case was violence and intimidation against journalists in Papua and West Papua wanting to cover the trial of Forkorus Yaboisembut and his colleagues at the district court in Jayapura on 8 February when they were  physically intimidated, pulled and pushed as they were entering the courtroom. Those responsible were members of the police force in Jayapura. The victims were: Katerina Litha of Radio KBR 68 H  Jakarta. Robert Vanwi of  Suara Pemnaharuan, Jakarta, Josrul Sattuan of TV One, Irfan of Bintang Papua, and Cunding Levi of Tempo.

The second case was against Radang Sorong, a journalist with Cahaja Papua  and Paskalis  of Media Papua, from February until May in West Papua by the police chief of Manokwari, who were preventing journalists from reporting expressions of support for dialogue and a referendum in Papua. Three local journalists said that they had been  under pressure while writing critical reports about political matters, law and human rights violations and political prisoners. One of the journalists from Manokwari was instructed to restrict his reporting about political, legal matters and human rights violations.

The third case was in Abepura on 20 March when Josrul from TV One, Marcel from Media Indonesia, Irfan from Bintang Papua and Andi Irfan of Radio KBR 68 H Jakarta were attacked by members of KNPB, the National Committee of West Papua who were involved in an action outside the Post Office in Abepura. On a separate occasion, outside Polimak, Jayapura, Timbar Gultom of  Papua Pos was ordered to identify himself. When he replied that he  was from Papua Pos,  the people did not believe him and started chasing him. He was able to hide in a house nearby.

The fifth case  was when three journalists in the district of Jayapura, Yance of Radio Kenambai Ombar, Putu of KBR 68 H Jakarta and Suparti of Cenderawasih Pos were verbally intimidated and chased  by some members of the KNPB.on 20 March.

The sixth case was when a journalist from TV One, Josrul Sattuan was beaten by an unidentified person when he was trying to report on the situation in Jayapura following a series of  violent incidents and shooting incidents that occurred in various in places in Jayapura. The physical attack occurred at Abepura Circle on Thursday evening on 7th June.

The seventh case was when a journalist from Metro TV, Abdul Muin who was in Manokwari was attacked by someone from the Fishing Service in who intimidated him with an air gun.The victim told JUBI that the incident started when a member of the Fishing Service sent him a brief message on 8th June asking him and other journalists to cover an incident  of bombing a hoard of fish by a group of  people who were being held in the Manokwari Prison.

The eighth case occurred in Timika on 20 September.The victim was Mohammad Yamin, a contributor to  RCTI, Simson Sambuari of Metro TV, Husyen Opa of Salam Papua and the photographer for Antara News Agency, and David Lalang of Salam Papua.They were prevented from recording some events in the Pamako Harbour.

The ninth case involved Oktavianus  Pogau of suarapua.com and stringer for Jakarta Globe.  This occurred in Manokwari on 22 October. Okto were beaten up by several members of the police force, some in uniforms and others  not wearing their uniforms, who were battling with members of the KNPB in Manokwari.  The victims was thought to be part of a crowd of people involved in a demonstration, even though they had clearly identified themselves.

The tenth case was  when Sayied Syech Boften of Papua Barat Pos was attacked on 1 November by a person who identified himself as a member of the local legislative assembly, Hendrik G. Wairara. The victim was threatened and intimidated among others things by phone. The victim was warned to stop reporting about corruption in a project  involving the extension of the electrification system  and the maintenance of BBM machinery in Raja Ampat District. On the same day, the assistant of the chairman of the the local DPRD flew into a rage while he was at the editorial office of Papua Barat Pos.

The eleventh case occurred on 8 November when Esau Miram of Cenderawasih Pos  was intimidated as he was reporting on a gathering at the office of the Commander of the   XVII Nilitary Command and all the heads of departments in Papua.They were accused of being terrorists even though Esau had shown his  identity card as a journalist.

The twelfth case occurred on 1 December  when Benny Mawel of JUBI was interrogated by members of the police force  near Abepura Circle  for reporting about a large crowd of people who were carrying banners while marching from Abepura to Waena. Benny showed his journalist identity card, but a group of around ten people accused him of not being a journalist. As he was travelling on his motorbike  towards a repair centre, he was followed by some people there who starting asking whether he knew where Benny was.

Victor Mambor added the following: AJI reported two cases, the shooting of a Twin Otter  plane belonging to Trigana Air by an unidantified person in Mulia Airfield, Puncak Jaya on 8th April which killed Leiron Kogoya  who was first said to be a journalist of Papua Pos, Nabire and then the arrest and deportation of a Czech man, Petra Zamencnik who identified himself as a journalist with finecentrum.com. On 9 February, there was inconsistently about the status of the victim, whether he was a journalist or not, or whether he was involved in journalistic activities.

Suroso also confirmed that when the identity of Leiron  was checked, it turns out that  he was not at the time engaged in journalistic activities.but had gone to Mulia for personal reasons. Leiron had not registered himself as a journalist of  Papua Pos Nabire.  As regards Petr Zamencnik. he was unable to prove that he was a journalist. AJI Jayapura  sought confirmation with finecentrum.com about his status  and he was described as being the editor for financial affairs in the Czech Republic.

[Translated by TAPOL]

Update on Manokwari police beating of journalist Oktovianus Pogau

Statement/ Media safety briefing from Oktovianus Pogau, SuaraPapua.com

October 27, 2012

I (Oktovianus Pogau, a journalist at suarapapua.com and a freelancer for The Jakarta Globe) will report on a beating that I experienced, perpetrated by police in Manokwari, West Papua.

Journalist Oktovianus Pogau (Photo: Andreas Harsono)

On the 24th October, 2012, at around 16.00 Eastern Indonesian Time, I was accompanied by three journalists, two from Cahaya Papua (Duma Sanda and Patrick Tandilerung) and one journalist from Tabloid Noken (Jo Kelwulan) to Manokwari police station to meet with the Chief of Police for Manokwari, AKBP Agustinus Supriyanto S.Ik, as had been arranged on the evening of Tuesday (23/10) with the officer.

The Chief of Police had initially stated that he was not aware if members of the force had beat up journalists, then, when many journalists from Jakarta began to call the station inquiring about the incident, Supriyanto became adamant that there were no beatings of journalists by police.
Then, continued Supriyanto, 5-10 minutes later at around 20.00 Eastern Indonesian Time, there was a brief message from me to his phone (whereas I sent him an SMS at 13.29 WIT, 30 minutes after the beating) which stated that there had been a beating and that my neck had been strangled while I was covering an action by Komite Nasional Papua Barat (KNPB) (National West Papuan Committee) on Tuesday 23/10 in front of Kampus Universitas Negeri Papua (Unipa) (Papuan State University) which was supporting an international lawyers meeting in London.

Then, the Chief of Police conveyed himself as the supervisor and manager of all the police in Manokwari, Papua Barat, and didn’t question that the media publish (when shown the news headlines in Cahaya Papua which detailed the violence perpetrated by members of the police force against me) news about the aforementioned incident.

Supriyanto said that the relationships between all journalists in West Papua, particularly in Manokwari, is really good, and because of this, he personally regrets the incident of the beating, and in fact, was surprised that a member of the force would do something like this to a journalist.

Supriyanto said that he wished to offer a personal apology for the incident. He also said that there was also a possibility that the incident occurred because the police didn’t realise I was a journalist, and that they were also carried away with the emotion of the moment.

Because of this, the Chief of Police firmly requested that I identify the men responsible for the incident so they could be subject to due legal processes, as in line with my request.

However, Supriyanto also suggested that the case didn’t have to be resolved amicably, that is, to be resolved by making peace with the offenders. According to the chief of police, it could be a rather difficult process to find the offenders, as there were many members in the force, and certainly no-one would be honest, but he said again that it depended on me.

After the chief of police opened this conversation, he gave us all the chance to talk. Duma Sanda explained that there was an issue of freedom of the press, in which the work of journalists is universal, meaning, it doesn’t mean that just because I didn’t live and become a journalist in Manokwari, I didn’t have the right to cover the demonstration by KNPB.

Duma also firmly requested that the Chief of Police teach the men to respect the profession of journalism, and also to respect journalists like myself. And, to make himself clearer, Duma also requested that the Chief listen to a chronological account of the beating I experienced.

I introduced myself (officially) to the Chief of Police.  I told him about my work writing news for the paper Papua Pos Nabire and Tabloid JUBI during high school, about writing several columns in Tabloid Suara Perempuan Papua, the newspaper Bintang Papua, along with Papua Pos Nabire.  And I conveyed to him that I’d also covered stories for The Jakarta Globe and that this is still continuing, and then that I established suarapapua.com as an online media outlet.

I explained to the Chief of Police in chronological order the incident of the beating (you can read my previous email). After this, I conveyed a number of important issues to the Chief of Police that have to be understood about the incident of the beating.

I said that firstly, his men had violated the article KUHP on disorder; secondly, the men had violated article UU Kebebasan Pers 1999 (UU on Freedom of the Press 1999) by preventing the work of a journalist; thirdly the UU anti-discrimination; and fourthly, Intelligence didn’t have the authority to capture let alone beat someone and certainly they violated their work code.

Because of this, I requested that the problem not be resolved amicably/peacefully, but should be followed up through a more direct process of law. I said that it was important that the police officers be aware, and law enforcement officers should be an example, that if there are officers who are at fault, then they have to be punished as criminals so that the public can know.

Oktovianus Pogau

End the violence against Papuan journalists: Oktovianus Pogau

A statement issued by Pantau Foundation and Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)


Jakarta (23 October 2012):- Police today attacked a journalist covering a rally organised by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) in Manokwari in West Papua. Oktovianus Pogau, a reporter with Suara Papua and a contributor to the Yayasan Pantau, was beaten by five policemen while trying to take pictures of police use of excessive violence against the KNPB demonstrators in front of the State University of Papua, Manokwari. Pogau had displayed his press card, but some police did not stop the beating. He sustained injuries to his face.


The security forces had attempted to stop the rally but the KNPB activists went on with the demonstrations.


In Jayapura, police dispersed thousands of demonstrators using the water cannon and tear gas. In Manokwari, five people were reportedly shot but it is still not clear their conditions.


In 2011, two journalists were killed in Papua, eight were kidnapped and 18 attacked. Foreign journalists are required to apply for special permits to enter and cover stories in Papua since Indonesia took over the administration of West Papua in 1963. Only three news organizations, including BBC, obtained the permits last year.


Pantau Foundation and the Southeast Asian Press Alliance condemn the attacks against the media, especially in Papua where activists, human rights defenders and journalists are frequently targeted for their work. Since October, two veteran human rights defenders, respectively from Wamena and Jayapura, have moved out of Papua due to serious threats against them. 


We call on the police to:


1. Respect the rights of citizens to freedom of expression;


2. Ensure the safety of Oktovianus Pugao;


3. Stop all forms of violence against journalists;


4. Arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of violence.




We also call on the Indonesian government to:


1.    Open up Papua to international journalists and human rights monitors; and

2.    Guarantee the rights of all journalists working in West Papua  to ensure they can work free of violence, hindrance or intimidation from any members of the security forces