Category Archives: Media Freedom

West Papua is still dangerous for journalism: Urgent reminder to all foreign journalists applying to report in West Papua

WestPapuaMedia Editorial / Urgent Safety Briefing

May 11, 2015

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.

WestPapuaMedia Editorial

Jokowi: Starting Sunday (10/5), access to Papua Opened for Foreign Journalists

by Victor Mambor, Editor of partner Tabloid Jubi

May 9, 2015

image
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)

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.

Chairman of AJI Jayapura: Importance of Open Access to Foreign Journalists into Papua

by Arnold Belau at our partner Tabloid Jubi

April 29, 2015

Pioneering West Papua journalist Victor Mambor, Chairman of Journalists Alliance (AJI) Papua, Editor of Tabloid Jubi, media freedom advocate and Journalism trainer (photo: Jubi
Pioneering West Papua journalist Victor Mambor, Chairman of Journalists Alliance (AJI) Papua, Editor of Tabloid Jubi, media freedom advocate and Journalism trainer (photo: Jubi)

Jayapura, Jubi – Chairman of Journalists Alliance (AJI) in Jayapura city, Victor Mambor, said it is very important to open access to foreign journalists into Papua in order to avoid misinterpretations of Papua.

 The issue was delivered by Victor in an interview with AJI Indonesia in Jakarta at the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) 2015, Tuesday (29/04/2015).

Victor explained that the media in Papua continues to grow, but the challenges are also growing ranging from human resources, financial, ethical and positioning journalists.

In Papua, as the media grows, so too is the presence of journalists.

“However it is true that a journalist in skill and ethics cannot always grow in parallel. If there are challenges, there is still not much of a significant change. Journalists still face threats of violence with the same quality as in previous years,” said Victor.

Papua which is broad and extensive, has become the greatest difficulty faced by foreign journalists. The conditions make the confirmation process, covering both sides, and verification difficult. Often, news from Papua becomes incomplete and with bias ruling.

“Every year there are 4 or 5 foreign journalists who question to myself regarding the situation in Papua. Most of them could not enter Papua. From their information, I can conclude they are not well served when submitting an application for reporting in Papua. In fact, there is no decision ever made, permitted or not,” said Victor.

Victor said that the more closed the access is, the more questions the international community will ask about what is happening in Papua.

“The conflict in Papua could be clarified in a comprehensive manner to the public through information which is submitted by journalists,” said Victor, who is also the Chief Editor of Jubi News and Jubi Online.

He said, to open access for foreign journalists into Papua, the issue that is very important and must be carried is the clarification of regulations for foreign journalists in Papua.

“Besides the campaign for open access for foreign journalists in Papua, lobby stakeholders who are related to the issue that need to be carry out the goal of clarifying regulations for foreign journalists. This is the main problem, unclear regulations,” he asserted.

WPFD proclaimed to the UN General Assembly that in 1993, the recommendations of this matter, was adopted it in the 26th Session of the UNESCO Conference in 1991. Recommendations and the trial were also in response to the calls of African journalists in 1991 for principles of media pluralism and independence, which resulted in the Declaration of Windhoek.  [Editor : Dewi Wulandari]

 translated by WestPapuaMedia