West Papua violence hits Indonesian RSF media rankings – NZ, Fiji fall

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Item: 7803

PARIS (Reporters sans frontières / Pacific Media Watch): An Indonesian military crackdown in the West Papua region, where at least two journalists were killed, five kidnapped and 18 assaulted in 2011, is the main reason for the country’s fall to 146th position in the annual Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

A corrupt judiciary that is too easily influenced by politicians and pressure groups and government attempts to control the media and Internet have prevented the development of a freer press, said the 2011 RSF report released today.

West Papua strongly featured in an earlier Pacific Journalism Review media freedom report which condemned Indonesia’s human rights record in October.

Fiji, which has a draconian media decree imposed by the military backed regime that seized power in a 2006 coup, dropped again to 117th. The survey was completed before the Pacific country lifted  its Public Emergency Regulations (PER) earlier this year.

Countries that have “traditionally been good performers in the Asia-Pacific region did not shine in 2011”, the RSF report said.

“With New Zealand’s fall to 13th position, no country in the region figured among the top 10 in the index.

“Hong Kong (54th) saw a sharp deterioration in press freedom in 2011 and its ranking fell sharply.

“Arrests, assaults and harassment worsened working conditions for journalists to an extent not seen previously, a sign of a worrying change in government policy.

“In Australia (30th), the media were subjected to investigations and criticism by the authorities, and were denied access to information, while in Japan (22nd) coverage of the tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear accident gave rise to excessive restrictions and exposed the limits of the pluralism of the country’s press.”

The best ranked Pacific Islands nation was Papua New Guinea (35th), three places above France (38th) which has territories in the region.

Samoa (54th) ranked equal with Hong Kong, just ahead of the United States territories and well clear of Tonga (63rd) and Timor-Leste (86th). Vanuatu, which has been a problem over the past year, was not listed. Nor was the Solomon Islands.

“In the Philippines (140th), which rose again in the index after falling in 2010 as a result of the massacre of 32 journalists in Ampatuan in November 2009, paramilitary groups and private militias continued to attack media workers,” the RSF report said.

“The judicial investigation into the Ampatuan massacre made it clear that the response of the authorities was seriously inadequate.

“In Afghanistan (150th) and Pakistan (151st), violence remained the main concern for journalists, who were under constant threat from the Taliban, religious extremists, separatist movements and political groups.

“With 10 deaths in 2011, Pakistan (151st) was the world’s deadliest country for journalists for the second year in a row.”

Full RSF world press freedom report index – Asia-Pacific

Pacific Journalism Review 2011 media freedom report

AHRC: Military officers arbitrarily arrest and torture civilians based on false claims of rebel activity

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-005-2012
26 January 2012
INDONESIA: Military officers arbitrarily arrest and torture civilians based on false claims of rebel activity
ISSUES: Freedom of assembly; indigenous people; torture; military violence; police negligence
Dear friends,
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learnt that on 2 November 2011, seven commanding officers of the Kurulu military sub-district command (danramil Kurulu), arrested and ill-treated three local activists and nine Umpagalo villagers in Kurulu, Papua. This incident occurred without any command letter of authorization, following allegations of rebel activities. The AHRC noted that in Papua, people are frequently victimised based on arbitrary allegations of rebellion, and subsequently tortured. (photo: Kurulu victim)
A Kurulu villager named Alex, who reportedly drank and gambled with members of the pro-Jakarta militia Barisan Merah Putih, provoked Indonesian national military (TNI) officers by claiming there was a meeting between the Free Papua Movement (OPM) and the villagers at Umpagalo on the night of 2 November 2011, at Umpagalo village, Kurulu sub-district, Jayawijaya, Papua without specific evidence. Responding to this vague information, seven armed officers of the Kurulu military sub-district command (danramil Kurulu) prepared to handle the situation without any command letter of authorization (surat izin komando).
After the armed officers came to Umpagalo at around 11pm, they beat three local activists, Melianus Wantik, Edo Doga and Markus Walilo, as well as nine villagers, Pilipus Wantik, Wilem Kosy, Elius Dabi, Lamber Dabi, Othi Logo, Nilik Hiluka, Hukum Logo, Martinus Mabel and Saulus Logo, then stabbed them with bayonets for two hours, forced them to crawl and doused them with water for one hour. The officers also humiliated, beat with big wood sticks, kicked and stepped on them with their boots, pointed their guns and threatened that they would cut their heads, and shot at them four times. After that, the officers brought all the victims to the 176/ Kurulu military headquarters of Wim Anesili Wamena battalion branch (Pos TNI Batalyon 756 kurulu cabang Batalion Wim Anesili Wamena) and allegedly examined them for two hours. The victims were then released without clear reason. Too scared to go to the hospital located around 50 meters from the military post for medical treatment, they made do with traditional remedies. (photo: wounds of beatings and stabbing)
The victims’ colleagues complained to the Kurulu sector police following the incident, but the police refused to process the complaint since there is no substantial evidence to prove the allegations and the military officers are beyond their jurisdiction based on law no. 31 of 1997 regarding military court.
Meanwhile, the head of the military district command (Korem) 172/PWY Ibnu Tri Widodo acknowledged the violence. He stated that the seven soldiers who mistreated the civilians were now held in custody of the Wamena Military Police. They would be brought to the military court. Following the mistreatment, all soldiers on duty in the Kurulu sub-district had been transferred. He further promised that the military would no longer act “arrogantly” towards civilians. However, in many cases of military trials, which are not open to the public, the sentences are merely a light punishment, such as a transfer, which is inadequate given the seriousness of the human rights violations committed. Therefore, the TNI jointly with the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) should send an independent investigation team to transparently resolve this case, as well as ensuring the adequate punishment of those responsible. The military court law should be reviewed to ensure that members of the military are brought exclusively before a competent, objective and impartial civilian court that is compliant with the internationally-accepted standards of fair trial, including public access to the process, in cases of human rights abuses by members of the military against civilians. (photo: Kurulu victim)
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:Torture is used in a widespread way by the police and military against indigenous Papuans, notably on persons suspected of supporting independence movements. Such suspicions are often leveled arbitrarily against members of the indigenous community and result in stigmatisation. This case is a clear example of this pattern.
Furthermore, according to the law on military courts, members of the military that commit crimes against civilians, such as extrajudicial killings or torture, can only be held accountable by military justice systems. Military courts are not open to the public, are notorious for only giving lenient punishments, and show a clear lack of impartiality.

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Rev Erari: Jakarta continues to violate the basic rights of the Papuan people

JUBI, 24 January, 2012

The Indonesian government’s inconsistencies in implementing a whole number of policies since West Papua was integrated as part of Indonesia have had a significant impact on the political movement of identity.  Jakarta has even continued to violated the basic rights of the indigenous Papuan people

These comments were made by the Rev. Phil Erari, deputy chairman of the Alliance of Churches in Indonesia  (GKI).

‘The special autonomy law , known as OTSUS,  is just one example of the inconsistency in its policy towards Papua,’ he said.

In Erari’s opinion, the Papuan people have virtually no confidence the authority of the Indonesian government. Papuans regard Jakarta as being incapable of introducing a number of reforms on security, health and education or mapping the infrastructure of Papua. Added to all this is the incompetence of the bureaucracy which ‘stinks of corruption’.

The politics of identity which emerged in the second half of the twentieth century was intended to enable the organisation of the masses  so as to ensure that  the mass of people can identify themselves as part of the group to which they belong. The group is generally speaking  based on the same identity of those within the group.

‘The political movement of identity in Papua  is an integral part of the people’s affirmative position which must be respected. For many years, Jakarta has failed to include this as part of the curriculum; this is an example of  the violation of the right of the Papuan people to get a decent education,’ said Erari.

Meanwhile, Kahar Nobara of Garda-P, the Papuan Democratic People’s Movement, told JUBI that Jakarta has hardly changed at all with regard to solving the Papuan problem.

‘Jakarta has taken no initiatives and its policy in most cases amounts to nothing more  that responding to incidents, nothing more than patchwork, without dealing with the root of the problem and without any radical action for change. This is not democratic, and it displays no sensitivity  whatsoever,’ said Nobara.

He went on to say, in connection with the political movement of identity, that the nationalism of the Papuan people is an integral part of their constant sufferings. Ths result of all this is that their desire for independence  and sovereignty will continue to  grow.

‘Jakarta’s inconsistencies provide the ammunition for the struggle of the Papuan people,’ he said.

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