Journalist covering events around Freeport is beaten and injured

JUBI,  13 October 2011Dozens of journalists demonstrated in Manokwari to protest against the beating of a colleague, Duma Tato Sanda, a journalist working for Cahaya Papua, who was beaten up by workers of Freeport during a clash in Timika.and suffered from bruises and swelling  in his cheeks, lips and his waist and was punched in the chest.

Sally Pelu, co-ordinator of the Papuan Peoples Solidarity Action for Press Freedom, said ‘Journalists are continually being subjected to acts of violence and there is no guarantee that we can do our work of gathering information freely.’

The journalists condemned the violence used against their colleague and called on the DPR, the central legislative council, to support the right of journalists  to conduct their work freely.

The journalists met a member of the DPRP West Papua, Jaxat who apologised for the fact that many members of the DPRP were absent, because they were involved in other activities.

According to reports, Duma also lost his camera, handphone and motor-bike which were all seized by Freeport workers. ‘They beat me , grabbed my camera and took my motor-bike,’ said Duma.

When he was attacked he was gathering information about the burning of three trucks belonging to Freeport which had been set on fire by Freeport workers. The trouble occurred after people heard that three of their colleagues had been shot dead during a demonstration. ‘I said that I was a journalist but nevertheless they beat me and threw stones at me. Luckily, someone came by on a motor-bike otherwise I could have been killed from being beaten by so many people.’

He went on to say that he was later chased by about ten people, ‘my sandals fell off while some people pelted me with stones.’

Johannes Samuel Nussy, the chairman of the Timika Community of Journalists, also condemned the acts of violence against Duma and said that another journalist working from Radar Timika, Syahrul was also attacked by Freeport  workers in Gorong-Gorong, Timika and was bruised in his face. He said: ‘They beat me because they didn’t want journalists to be there,’

According to  Johannes, some journalists in Timika have formed a relationship with Freeport. ‘They see the work of journalists as something threatening.. They say we are defending Freeport, which is not true. We hope that the workers trade union can urge their colleagues  not to see journalists as a threat.’

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