Dozens of local people involved in the IPPMI (Union of Iwaro Youth and Students) held a protest action outside the offices of PT Permata Putera Mandiri (PPM) on Jalan Ahmad Yani in Sorong City on Friday lunchtime. The participants were demanding justice and a resolution of the situation whereby local people had lost out due to work carried out by PT PPM. This oil palm plantation company is owned by the Austindo Nusantara Jaya Group.
IPPMI together with others from Imeko have held several demonstrations and dialogues since the beginning of the year, in Sorong City, in Teminabuan [capital of South Sorong regency] and at the work site in Puragi village. At the end of March 2015, local people demanded that PT PPM compensate the people in the Metamani area’s losses to a value of 6 trillion Rupiah, that the company should withdraw the organic army and police mobile brigade troops stationed there, and the government should review the permits which they believe have been misused to fell valuable ironwood trees and explore for oil. However, the company has yet to show any signs that it will accede to the people’s demands.
At the protest action on Friday 15th May, the participants were angry because they found that PT PPM’s offices had been closed suddenly, with the fence locked and the office door shut. Tensions rose because there were no staff from the company present. Dozens of joint security forces from the city police station were guarding the site, but also could not get anyone from the company to come and talk, so anger rose.
Participants on the action forced open the fence and concreted1 PT PPM’s office door. At this point the police who were present reacted directly, arresting dozens of local people who they then took to the Sorong city police station, including several leaders of IPPMI including Simon Soren, Fiky Utoy, Leo Iji and Fery Onim.
By Friday night, most of the arrested were released. On Saturday morning (16/5), Pusaka’s local contact, Wenan, reported from Sorong that two of the participants on the demonstration were still being held, Obeth Korie and Lodik Aitago. It appears that they are being threatened with being charged under article 170 of the Indonesian Penal Code concerning violence towards people or property, which carries a maximum prison sentence of five years and six months.
IPPMI’s protest actions against PT PPM.
IPPMI held a demonstration outside the offices of PT ANJ Agri in Sorong.
IPPMI reported the company’s wrongdoings and their demands to the leadership of the West Papua Province Papuan People’s Assembly (MRP). On 31st March a meeting was held with the company and the South Sorong administration, which was attended by the local Bupati (district head) and police and military leaders, and took place in a meeting room at the South Sorong police station. IPPMI conveyed seven demands which had been agreed by the people of Imeko.
IPPMI threatened to blockade PT PPM’s office and occupy the office of the South Sorong Bupati.
IPPMI urged the South Sorong administration to find a solution to the PT PPM issue, or if not it could cause chaos in the forthcoming election of a new district head. During a meeting to sit down together based on customary law, someone who was thought to be following company orders punched one of the students in full view of the police.
awasMIFEE note: not sure this is the right translation. Bahasa Indonesia original: mengecor ↩
MEDIA freedom in West Papua? The end of the international media blackout in the most repressed corner of the Melanesian Pacific, far from the gaze of neighbouring nations with the exception of Vanuatu?
This is what Indonesian President Joko Widodo effectively declared in Jayapura last Saturday just days before a critical meeting between the Indonesian observers and a Melanesian Spearhead Group while the West Papuans are lobbying to join the club.
But hold on … Promising sign though this is,Café Pacific says we ought to be viewing this pledge more critically and to take a longer term view to see if there are any real changes on the ground.
Some media groups, such as the Pacific Freedom Forum and Pacific Islands Media Association, have responded with premature enthusiasm.
“Freeing political prisoners and foreign press access to West Papua will be the biggest regional story this year – and the next,” declared the PFF.
“Years of pressure are finally starting to pay off.”
The International Federation of Journalists and other media groups have also welcomed the move.
Put promise to test
But first the promise needs to be put to the test. Foreign journalists, including from Pacific countries, need to take up Jokowi’s challenge – and apply to go there as soon as possible.
Already, veterans of the human rights struggle have been warning about taking the promise at face value.
The independent Australian-based West Papua Media, which has had eight years of on-the-ground experience in the region, has warned in an editorial that the foreign media should be doing “due diligence” over this development because West Papua is “still highly dangerous”.
And Natalius Pigai, an indigenous Papuan who is currently a serving commissioner on the National Commission for Human Rights, has accused the president of trying to win “brownie points” with the international community.
This was the president’s move to deal with the political fallout from the recent execution of foreign drug convicts, reported the Jakarta Globe.
Natalius said the token release of a handful of political prisoners was not enough to bring peace to West Papua and there was no serious plan to address the underlying causes for the unrest.
“Pardons are something a president regularly hands out. What we need is a grand design, not just a ceremonial pardoning of political prisoners,” he said.
He said Joko must start engaging in dialogue with the people in Papua to understand their points of view and what they wanted, as part of the “grand design” to bring peace and prosperity to the region.
“People in Papua want to feel the government’s presence; they want the government to pay attention to their lives, not just exploit Papua as a campaign tool before the international public,” Natalius said.
The Jakarta Globe reported that nothing had fundamentally changed and human rights advocates pointed to the 60 mostly West Papuan and Maluku prisoners in jail for political offences that would seem minor in other countries.
The newspaper reported Semuel Waileruny of the Maluku Civil Community Advocacy Centre as saying none of them deserved imprisonment because their demands had been peaceful.
“People in Papua and Maluku often stage peaceful rallies and protests against injustice, sometimes by waving the Morning Star flag [Papua’s independence symbol] or the South Maluku republic flag,” Semuel said.
“But these actions should be seen as part of the freedom of expression, which should be protected by law. These people, though, have been arrested and accused of conspiring against the state. And they’ve often been tortured and imprisoned for up to 20 years.”
Media ban contradictions
On the lifting of the media ban, already there has been some contradictions between what Jokowi has said and the view of the country’s chief security minister, who indicated “nothing had changed” in Jakarta’s stance over allowing the foreign press to report from the region.
“We’ll allow it, on condition that they report on what they see, not go around looking for facts that aren’t true from armed groups,” said Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno, the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, effectively ruling out any attempt by foreign journalists to contact OPM members and other pro-independence sympathisers.
He added that journalists would also need permission from the authorities to report from the country’s mountainous hinterland — the heart of the insurgency.
WPM reminds all foreign media workers that West Papua is and still remains an incredibly dangerous place for journalists to report, and presents 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.
Port Moresby arrests
In Port Moresby, Pacific Media Watch reported seven protesters for West Papuan rights were arrested and detained for six hours before being released with no charge after President Widowo arrived on Monday for his two-day visit, sparking accusations that Indonesian “authoritarian rule” was spilling over into Papua New Guinea.
Radio NZ International reported that Oro Governor Gary Juffa had explained that the the demonstration organisers, PNG Union for a Free West Papua, had obtained a court order allowing them to protest, but they had been detained arbitrarily.
He claimed the PNG government had been quick to try and please Jakarta by clamping down on peaceful protest.
“We can’t allow Indonesia to extend their authoritarian rule into Papua New Guinea which is what seems to be happening,” said Governor Juffa.
“In instances when Indonesians visit or when Indonesian officials are here then there’s a gag on the media, there’s all the military persons, the people are controlled, it’s as if we are a province of Indonesia.”
Human rights prize
Meanwhile, in the good news department, a young Muslim human rights lawyer in mostly Christian West Papua has been awarded the coveted 2015 Gwangju Prize for Human Rightsby the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples organisation (UNPO) for “exemplifying the ideals of human rights and peace”.
Latifah Anum Siregar is chairperson of the Alliance for Democracy in Papua, a member of the Papua regional council, and a member of the human rights commission. According to UNPO, she has made “huge contributions to maintaining peace in a region of conflict and violence”.
She reformed the system for women’s rights activists with the human rights institute Imparsial, protected Papua human rights activists, reported human rights violations to the United Nations, supported the Papua peace process, and is involved in many activities.
“Moreover, the fact that she was able to lead the Papua Peace Movement despite multiple threats and kidnappings, suspected to be from the government, has been highly regarded,” the UNPO committee said.
“She has also been recognised for showing the universality of human value by dedicating herself for the predominantly Christian region of Papua, in spite of being Muslim herself.”
Pioneering West Papuan journalist and Media “Rights & Responsibilities” advocate Victor Mambor, who is WPM Partner Tabloid Jubi‘s Editor and founder of the Papua branch of the Alliance of Independent Journalists, was given unprecedented access to Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo during his visit to West Papua on Saturday May 2. He conducted a wide ranging, frank and in-depth interview with Jokowi on issues of media freedom, human rights, civil resistance, possibilities for peace, justice and dialogue with Jakarta. West Papua Media will be republishing articles written by Mambor from these interviews, to draw attention to the actual reality of media freedom in Papua from the perspectives of those that live there, instead of the international Jakarta-based correspondents generally uncritical and official-source biased reporting of the issue.
Jayapura, Jubi – President Joko Widodo evaded questions about a lack of progress in the investigation into the December 8 shootings that killed four students in Enarotali, Paniai.
“I’ll answer it later after this (granting pardons to five political prisoners),” he said when a Jubi reporter asked him about the Paniai case’s settlement in the question-and-answer session during a ceremony granting pardon to five Papuan political prisoners at Abepura prison in Jayapura on Saturday (9/5/2015).
After the ceremony, Jubi asked him the same question in a private interview but Jokowi said repeatedly: ” I’ll give the answer later. I couldn’t answer it now. Because if I answer it now it could eclipse the granting of pardon issue.”
After the plenary session held on 7 – 8 April 2015, the Indonesian National Human Right Commission announced receiving the investigation report from the Paniai Investigation Team.
“We received the report from the Paniai Team and endorsed it towards the Law No.26/2000, that the team must complete the report and its requirement (case matrix and legal studies),” Dr. Meneger Nasution, the Chairman of Paniai Case Team said before dozens of Papuan students and supporters after the plenary.
Further Nasution who accompanied by other Human Rights Commissionaire Natalius Pigay, said the case matrix and legal studies would be presented in the plenary session in May 2015. “One month is required because the report must be compiled with legal studies and case matrix which should be met with the international legal instrument,” Nasution added. But up to now, there is no further decision about the case by the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission. (Victor Mambor/rom)
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.
Ibu Iriana, President Jokowi with reporters from AlJazeera Step Vaessen and Bobby Gunawan (far right). Journalist from Jubi, Victor Mambor after doing an exclusive interview in LP Abepura (Photo: Jubi)
Jayapura, Jubi – President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo said began Sunday (05/09/2015), the access of foreign journalists to Papua is to be opened.
‘Starting tomorrow, (Sunday 10/5) for foreign journalists (to) have us open, No problem,” President Jokowi said answering questions from Jubi, on access of foreign journalists to Papua who have been restricted.
President Jokowi added that foreign journalists who come to Papua no longer need a special permit, the same as if the journalist was coming to cover other areas in Indonesia.
“For foreign journalists no longer a problem. What else? (in) Jakarta need a permit? No, no, no! “Jokowi said firmly.
When mentioned about the (Indonesian Ministry of Information) Clearing House that had been limiting the foreign journalists access to Papua, President Jokowi said there will no longer be a Clearing House. When asked again whether as president he believes in his statement, President Jokowi said he was very confident.
“I have conveyed to the ranks here. In Papua, the minister, in the TNI Commander, in Chief of Police, has it all. What is lacking?” asked President Jokowi again.
Previously, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) specifically noted, until 2015, the freedom of the press in Papua is still restrained. The Institution (of the) clearing house has been used to restrict access to any foreign journalists who wish to cover in Papua. In fact, every foreign journalist who managed to gain access to cover Papua, often are followed or escorted, doing work that (ensures) journalists are not free in performing their public duties. Local journalists were often intimidated and there even are some cases of murder of journalists.
“AJI expressed that restriction of access of journalists in Papua will negatively affect the people of Papua, Indonesia further. Restrictions would encourage the emergence of more sites that are far from the principles of work of journalism that puts the verification and confirmation,” the Chairman of AJI Indonesia, Suwarjono, told a public discussion on Freedom of the Press in Papua, on April 29 at the Parliament press office.
According to Suwarjono, information that is circulating through the Internet – which can not be prevented from spreading – could not be verified as journalists also face difficulties in performing duties because of the restrictions. (Giving full) Disclosure access to journalists in Papua will give the public information that is more credible and trustworthy, and also can also be the reliable eyes and ears for Indonesian rule.
Translated by WestPapuaMedia, edits in parantheses for linguistic clarity.
When foreign journalists are banned from an Occupied Land, who better to tell the story than the people who live it. Your donations support and help deliver training for a free and independent media in Papua, safe from harm from those who want to prevent the story getting out. We are entirely non-profit and rely on your support to continue our work. Please donate generously.
Papuans Behind Bars is a new project to document the cases of West Papuan Political prisoners. That site has profiles of current and former political prisoners and releases monthly news updates on arrests, trials, etc. West Papua Media is proud to be working with Papuan Behind Bars
Background information on West Papua and its history for journalists and bloggers