Journalists protest over reporter beaten up in Freeport mine clash

Tabloidjubi, with PMC

Leo WandagauLeo Wandagau … wounded in a separate Freeport mine clash when security forces opened fire. He died later in Timika District Hospital. Photo: Jubi

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By a special correspondent in Timika

Dozens of journalists have demonstrated in Manokwari to protest in solidarity with a colleague who was allegedly beaten up by workers of  Freeport-McMoran during a clash in Timika, Papua, as tension worsens at the giant Grasberg copper mine.

Duma Tato Sanda, a journalist working for Cahaya  Papua, suffered from bruises and swelling  in his cheeks, lips and his waist and was punched in the chest.

Sally Pelu, coordinator of the Papuan People’s 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 motorbike,” said Duma.

Trucks burned
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 motorbike otherwise I could have been killed from being beaten by so many people.”

He wadded 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.

“They beat me because they didn’t want journalists to be there.” he said.

Freeport ‘relationship’
According to  Nussy, some journalists in Timika have formed a relationship with Freeport.

“They [the protesting workers] 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.”

The independent Papuan tabloid Jubi reported that Leo Wandagau, victim of a separate clash between security forces and Freeport workers in Gorong-gorong Terminal on October 10 died on Saturday in Timika. He was shot by security member during the riot.

Wandagau was shot in his back (see picture) and treated in Timika District Hospital. Beside Wandagau there are several others who were also wounded in that clash. They are Melkias Rumbiak (36), Ahmad Mustofa,  42; Yunus Nguvuluduan; Charry Suripto, 35; Philiton Kogoya, 34; Alios Komba, 26; and Rudolf Rumbino.

The Workers Union (PUK-SP-KEP-SPSI-PTFI) told Jubinews by email that the family of Wandagau had not given any approval for autopsy.

They said Wandagau looked alright and not in critical condition in the video shot when he was admitted to hospital.

There might be other causes on his death, the family stated which was quoted by the union in their email.

The Freeport mine management did not release any explanation over the shootings.

Spokesman Ramdani Sirait  said nothing about the incident until Jubi reported the news.  (Reported by Victor Mambor, translated for the PMC by Sony Ambudi)

Media freedom report
Meanwhile, Pacific Scoop editor David Robie, who is director of the Pacific Media Centre, today spoke to Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat about the threats to media in West Papua.

A new Pacific media freedom report by the centre’s Pacific Journalism Reviewsays repression in the province has now also reached the news media.

It adds that violence against journalists in West Papua has replaced censorship in Fiji as the most urgent media freedom issue in the region.

“We made a particular feature of West Papua, although, of course, there are major sections in the report that deal elsewhere with Fiji and Vanuatu, in particular, that are ongoing freedom concerns,” Dr Robie said.

The report was co-authored by Pacific Media Watch editor Alex Perrottet and Dr Robie with assistance by West Papua Media’s editor Nick Chesterfield and other journalists, including Giff Johnson, Bob Howarth and Nic Maclellan.

Source: The alternative Papuan tabloid and news portal Jubi.

Pacific media freedom report on West Papua

West Papua new Pacific media black spot

Journalists assaulted in Freeport mine strike

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