Category Archives: Media Freedom

Jubi Journalists Told to Coordinate Reporting Agenda with Police — West Papua No.1 News Portal

by Victor Mambor at WPM Partner Tabloid Jubi’s West Papua Daily.

Reprinted here in full via Jubi Journalists Told to Coordinate Reporting Agenda with Police — West Papua No.1 News Portal

originally published June 16, 2016 – apologies for delay

 

Jubi Illustration

 

Jayapura, Jubi – Jayapura Police Deputy Chief Police Commissionaire Arnold Tata warned two Jubi journalists Benny Mawel and Zely Ariane to make early coordination with the Police while covering a rally by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) Sentani Region on Wednesday (15/6/2016).
 
Both took photographs and video for reportage and followed the protesters who were arrested and taken to Jayapura Police Office.

Riding a motorcycle, both journalists intended to cover the arrests at the Police station, but an officer stopped them in front of the station.

An officer from the Sabara Unit warned the two that their journalistic activity was considered intrusive.

Mawel explained that as a journalist, based on the Press Law, they have the right to do their job without restrictions.

But the Police did not want to listen any further.

Deputy Police Chief Tata said KNPB rally was illegal, so reporting is not required.

To calm down the tension, he asked both to enter the Police station to talk with Jayapura Police spokesperson, Inspector Imam Rubianto who then asked permission to photocopy their ID and press cards.

He said during the time the Police considered Jubi is less coordinated with the Police in Sentani area, less participated in such activities carried out by Jayapura Police.

“In many activities held by Jayapura Police, other media came to participate, while Jubi has never been there,” he said while pointing the photographs of their activities hanging on the wall of his office’s lobby.

He also asked Jubi to be more cooperative with the Police related to the reporting agenda. He didn’t question about the reporting done by both journalists today, but he only wanted Jubi to coordinate with Jayapura Police Public Relation.

Jubi Editor-in-chief Dominggus Mampioper said there is no obligation for reporters to do early coordination with the Police in doing coverage.

“Journalist is assigned to cover the fact of ongoing event, and KNPB rally was real happening, doesn’t matter if it was legal or not we should keep reporting it,” said Mampioper. (Victor Mambor/rom)

 

HRW: Indonesia: End Access Restrictions to Papua

Press release

For Immediate Release
***To download video:
http://media.hrw.org/index.asp?ID=FJGNG〈=ENG&showEmbargoed=true

Indonesia: End Access Restrictions to Papua
Official Obstacles for Foreign Media and Monitors Defy Presidential Order

(Jakarta, November 11, 2015) – Indonesian authorities continue to restrict access by foreign journalists and rights monitors to Indonesia’s easternmost provinces of Papua, raising serious concerns about the government’s commitment to media freedom, Human Rights Watch said today in a new report. The restrictions defy a May 10, 2015 announcement by Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo – popularly known as Jokowi – that accredited foreign media would have unimpeded access to Papua.

“Government access restrictions have for far too long made Papua Indonesia’s ‘forbidden island’ for foreign media and rights monitors,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Blocking media access on overbroad ‘security’ grounds deters foreign news reporting about Papua, raising troubling questions about what the Indonesian government might be trying to hide there.”

The 75-page report, “Something to Hide?: Indonesia’s Restrictions on Media Freedom and Rights Monitoring in Papua,” documents the government’s role in obstructing access to the provinces of Papua and West Papua (collectively referred to as “Papua”), including government backlash since Jokowi’s announcement.

The decades-old access restrictions on Papua are rooted in government suspicion of the motives of foreign nationals in a region still troubled by widespread corruption, environmental degradation, public dissatisfaction with Jakarta, and a small pro-independence insurgency.

Human Rights Watch interviewed 107 journalists, editors, publishers, and representatives of domestic and international nongovernmental organizations for the report. Foreign correspondents describe an opaque and unpredictable permit application process in which they often never received a final response. Many have waited fruitlessly for months – and in some cases years – for approval.

Jokowi’s May 10 announcement has faced strong resistance by some senior government and security forces officials, Human Rights Watch said. The government has also not followed that announcement with a specific written directive, which opened space for non-compliance by state agencies and security forces opposed to loosening restrictions on foreign observer access to Papua. Various senior officials have since publicly contradicted the president’s statement. Even the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has announced that it has “liquidated” the 18-agency “Clearing House” that previously was used to vet journalists, has confirmed that prior police permission is still required for foreign media access to Papua. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in some cases also continuing to ask some journalists seeking to travel to Papua to provide, in advance, details of their likely sources and dates of travel.

Foreign correspondents have reported mixed results from their efforts to take advantage of the announced loosening of Papua access restrictions. For instance, after Jokowi’s announcement, the Indonesian embassy in Bangkok processed and granted in just 15 days a Papua reporting visa for Cyril Payen, a Bangkok-based correspondent for France 24 television. The embassy also assured him that he was not obligated to have any check-ins with police or immigration officials while in Papua. “Whether I was lucky or not, I don’t know,” Payen said. “They really opened up.”

However, a Jakarta-based foreign correspondent showed Human Rights Watch a copy of correspondence with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from July 2015 in which a ministry official listed both a surat jalan, or travel permit, from the National Police’s Security Intelligence Agency, as well as a “letter of notification” specifying the journalist’s “purpose, time and places of coverage in Papua,” as prerequisites for access to Papua.

Foreign journalists who ultimately are granted Papua access permits often face surveillance and harassment after arrival in Papua. Several said that they were required to have an official “minder” from the State Intelligence Agency (Badan Intelijen Negara, BIN) for the full duration of their visits, significantly limiting their ability to report on issues deemed sensitive.

“President Jokowi needs to bridge the gap between rhetoric and reality by putting the guarantee of unimpeded foreign media access to Papua in writing,” Kine said. “He should make it clear to government officials and security forces alike that obstructing journalists is unacceptable in Papua and anywhere else in Indonesia.”

Indonesian journalists – particularly ethnic Papuans – are also vulnerable to restrictions on media freedom in Papua, Human Rights Watch said. Reporting on corruption and land grabs can be dangerous anywhere in Indonesia, but national and local journalists told Human Rights Watch that those dangers are magnified in Papua. In addition, journalists there face harassment, intimidation, and at times even violence from officials, members of the public, and pro-independence forces when they report on sensitive political topics and human rights abuses.

Journalists in Papua say they routinely self-censor to avoid reprisals for their reporting. That environment of fear and distrust is increased by the security forces’ longstanding and documented practice of paying some journalists to be informers and even deploying agents to work undercover in newsrooms as journalists. These practices are carried out both to minimize negative coverage and to encourage positive reporting about the political situation, and they generate distrust among journalists.

Representatives of international nongovernmental organizations, United Nations experts, and foreign academics have also faced official obstacles to visiting Papua. Since 2009, the International Committee for the Red Cross, the Dutch development organization Cordaid, and the Peace Brigades International have all limited or closed their Papua-based operations due to pressures from the Indonesian government.

In 2013, the Indonesian government blocked a proposed visit by Frank La Rue, then the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Diplomatic sources in Geneva told La Rue that the Indonesian government froze his requested visit due to his inclusion of Papua in his proposed itinerary. “[The Indonesian mission in Geneva] asked what areas I want to go to [and] I said Jakarta and bigger places like Bali, but for me, I said, it was very important to visit Aceh and Papua,” La Rue told Human Rights Watch. “They said ‘Great, we’ll get back to you.’ What it meant was that they postponed the dates and put the trip off indefinitely.”

“It’s clear from our research that removing access restrictions is not a silver bullet to resolve Papua’s deep-seated problems or dispel the suspicions of Indonesian officials toward foreign media and other observers,” Kine said. “But greater transparency and access are essential elements of a rights-respecting future for Papua to throw sunshine on abuses of power that for too long have remained hidden from view.”

For accounts from the report, please see below.

“Something to Hide?: Indonesia’s Restrictions on Media Freedom and Rights Monitoring in Papua” is available at:
https://www.hrw.org/node/283014

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Indonesia, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/asia/indonesia

For more information, please contact:
In Jakarta, Andreas Harsono (English, Indonesian): +62-815-950-9000 (mobile); or harsona@hrw.org
In Jakarta, Phelim Kine (English, Mandarin): +62-812 10877314 (mobile) or +1-212-810-0469 (US mobile); or kinep@hrw.org. Twitter: @PhelimKine
In San Francisco, Brad Adams (English): +1 347-463-3531 (mobile); or adamsb@hrw.org
In Sydney, Elaine Pearson (English): +61-400-505-186 (mobile); or pearsoe@hrw.org. Twitter: @pearsonelaine
In Washington, DC, John Sifton (English): +1-646-479-2499 (mobile); or siftonj@hrw.org. Twitter: @johnsifton

Accounts from “Something to Hide?”

Rohan Redheya, a Dutch freelance photojournalist who applied in The Hague for a journalist visa to Papua in July 2014, said that although the Indonesian embassy informed him that the approval process was “around two weeks,” the embassy never responded to his application. “I know many journalists who got ignored [by Indonesian visa issuance offices], and they simply never heard something again [after submitting a Papua access application].”

“The Clearing House system of consensus voting means any one person has veto power, which generally means that the opinion of the most paranoid person in the meeting carries the day. These restrictions fuel all manner of speculation about Papua: the notion that the Indonesian government has ‘something to hide’ finds purchase. But the Indonesian government finds itself in the illogical position where they hear of inflammatory reporting and this actually makes them impose restrictions, and then those restrictions prevent good journalists from writing of the complexities of the place.”
– Bobby Anderson, a social development specialist and researcher who worked in Papua from 2010 to 2015, describing the government’s “Clearing House” screening of foreign journalists seeking to report from Papua.

Marie Dhumieres, a French journalist, received a police permit to go to Papua in September 2015. A week later the police arrested and questioned three Papuan activists whom she interviewed. She published this tweet to President Jokowi, and the activists were soon released: “So Mr @jokowi, foreign journalists are free to work anywhere in Papua but the people we interview get arrested after we leave?”

“If you read all the news reports in all newspapers in Manokwari [in Papua], you will see that their sources are almost all, almost 100 percent, government officials. Their sources are always government officials, police officers, or military officers.”
– Agusta Bunay, a Papua Barat TV presenter, on self-censorship among journalists fearful of possible reprisals for independent reporting.

RSF: Indonesian president fails to keep media freedom pledges in first year

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Reporters Without Borders is very disappointed by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s performance as regards freedom of information and media freedom during his first year in office.

Despite the democratic hopes raised by his election, Joko Widodo’s presidency is far from meeting expectations with regard to access to information,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk.

The authorities continue to suppress information and Jokowi’s campaign pledge to open up the West Papua region to foreign journalists was just an illusion. If journalists can go there – under certain conditions – they are closely watched, exposing their sources to reprisals by the authorities.

The former governor of Jakarta, Jokowi began his term well. His inauguration on 20 October 2014 was followed a few days later by the release of French journalists Valentine Bourrat and Thomas Dandois.

Bourrat and Dandois had fallen victim to Indonesia’s restrictive practices in West Papua (the western half of the island of New Guinea) and were sentenced to two and a half months in prison for violating Indonesia’s draconian immigration laws by doing a report there after entering the country on tourist visas.

Their fixer, Areki Wanimbo, was only released after being held for eight months.

Ever since annexing the West Papua region in 1963, the Indonesia authorities have restricted access for foreign journalists because of acts of violence against civilians and the government’s crackdown on the separatist movements operating there. The few journalists managing to visit the region, which is an information “black hole,” have been closely watched.

On 10 May, Jokowi announced the lifting of the ban on foreign journalists going to the West Papua region. The opening of Indonesia’s most secret region to journalists was one of the campaign promises made by Jokowi, who even told journalists that “there’s nothing to hide”.

The decision allowed New Zealand’s Maori TV to do a report on the ethnic Papuan community for its “Native Affairs” programme. This was the first report of this kind in more than 50 years.

But there is no guarantee of lasting access to information in the region. Certain army factions that have profited from Indonesia’s occupation are expected to continue to oppose media coverage. It is also highly unlikely that the authorities will let journalists investigate all the human rights violations that have taken place since annexation.

Jokowi’s announcement – made while Indonesia was in the international spotlight following the death sentences pass on seven foreigners for drug trafficking – has all the hallmarks of a smokescreen designed to fob off international public opinion and add some temporary gloss to Indonesia’s image.

While foreign reporters are no longer openly targeted in the West Papua region, the authorities still have their fixers and sources in their sights. Two fixers working for a French journalist were arrested and questioned by the police at the start of this month.

The authorities also restrict the freedom of local journalists. Abeth You, a reporter for the TabloidJubi.com website, was attacked by police on 8 October while covering a demonstration in Jayapura, the West Papua region’s biggest city. It was organized by Solidarity for Victims of Human Rights Violations in Papua.

After the police bundled You into a truck, an officer seized his camera and deleted all his photos – all the while threatening him with his gun. Even when they have press cards, local journalists covering demonstrations continue to be treated by the police as demonstrators.

Coverage of certain sensitive subjects also continues to be closely controlled in the rest of Indonesia. British journalists Rebecca Prosser and Neil Bonner are still awaiting a verdict in their trial after being arrested for reportedly filming a reenaction of pirates attacking an oil tanker in the Malacca Strait, near Singapore.

Rear Admiral Taufiqurrahman said shortly after their arrest that “what they were reenacting (…) could tarnish the image of the Malacca Strait as a crime-prone area.” The two journalists have been held since May under Indonesia’s immigration laws.

In a couple of months, we will know whether Jokowi’s presidency has caused Indonesia to fall in the 2016 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

Benjamin Ismaïl

Head of Asia Desk
Reporters Without Borders

Radio France International: Press Freedom in Papua

From Interviews with and fixing by West Papua Media
5 July 2015

 

Home

By Clea Broadhurst

In Indonesia, the eastern province of Papua has been off-limits to journalists since 1968. It has been the scene of violence between local authorities and separatist movements and both the local and national governments have been trying to hide it from the media, therefore, the international community.

tags : IndonesiaPapuaJournalistsMedia

Real media freedom or MSG ‘brownie points’ over West Papua?

By David Robie at Cafe Pacific

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May 12, 2015

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Freed West Papuan political prisoner Numbungga Telenggen (left) is hugged by a supporter
in Jayapura at the weekend. Image: HRW/AFP

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.

‘Token release’
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.”

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President Widodo with reporters from Al Jazeera (Step Vaessen,
on his left) and Bobby Gunawan (far right), and from Tabloid Jubi
(Victor Mambor) after doing an exclusive interview
in Abepura. Image: Tabloid Jubi

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.

West Papua Media said in its statement:

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.”

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Latifah Anum Siregar ... human rights award.

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.”

Related articles:
Jokowi strengthens ties with PNG
Journos demand charges of assault against chief
West Papua region ‘still dangerous’ for journalists, warns WPM