Tag Archives: Alliance of Independent Journalists

West Papua Report January 2013

This is the 105th in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at http://www.etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at edmcw@msn.com. If you wish to receive the report directly via e-mail, send a note to etan@etan.org. For additional news on West Papua see the reg.westpapua listserv archive or on Twitter.

WPAT Note: With the October 2012 edition, West Papua Report changed format: The Report now leads with “Perspective,” an opinion piece; followed by “Update,” a summary of some developments during the covered period; and then “Chronicle” which lists of statements, new resources, appeals and action alerts related to West Papua. Anyone interested in contributing a “Perspective” or responding to one should write to edmcw@msn.com. The opinions expressed in Perspectives are the author’s and not necessarily those of WPAT or ETAN.

See also West Papua Advocacy Team Urges Unrestricted Visit by UN Special Rapporteur

CONTENTS

This edition’s PERSPECTIVE discusses Indonesian presidential aspirant Lt. General (ret) Prabowo dark role in West Papua’s past. In the UPDATE section, we review the Indonesian security forces’ expanding campaign of violence targeting self-determination advocates associated with the West Papua National Committee (KNPB). We also summarize the implications for human rights of the proposed new “anti-terrorism” law and describe the continuing destruction of pristine forests throughout the Indonesian archipelago. In CHRONICLE: a new Asian Human Rights Commission “alert” about police violence in West Papua, a report by the Alliance of Independent Journalists regarding the rise of threats and violence against journalists, and the Australia West Papua Association Sydney’s review of human rights developments in West Papua. This edition also highlights a critique of the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate project (MIFEE) by Indigenous Peoples Organization of Bian Enim.

“PERSPECTIVE”>PERSPECTIVE

Prabowo and Papua
by Edmund McWilliams
WPAT’s Edmund McWilliams is a retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer who served as the Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta. 1996-1999. He worked closely with sources cited in the following account.

The list of likely candidates in the Indonesia’s 2014 Presidential election includes Lt. General (ret) Prabowo Subianto, leader of the “Great Indonesian Movement Party” (Gerinda). His candidacy has generated concern over the future of democracy in Indonesia, because of the retired General’s well-documented record of human rights violations and his admitted role in a coup attempt.

Prabowo SubiantoPrabowo, was forced out of the Indonesian army in August 1998 following revelations of his role in the kidnapping, torture and murder of peaceful democratic activists in 1997-98 and due to his apparent central role in sparking May 14, 1998 anti-Chinese riots in Jakarta and several other major urban areas. Prabowo has confessed his role in the kidnappings, but told foreign journalists that his “conscience is clear.” In 2000, Prabowo became the first person to be denied entry into the United States under the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Robert Gelbard, former United States Ambassador to Indonesia, described Prabowo as “somebody who is perhaps the greatest violator of human rights in contemporary times among the Indonesian military. His deeds in the late 90s before democracy took hold, were shocking, even by TNI standards.”

Prabowo’s rapid rise to power was based on nepotism. He married the dictator Suharto’s youngest daughter, Titiek Suharto. Prabowo’s father, Sumitro Djojohadikusumo, was a cabinet minister under both President Sukarno and Suharto. Although, he financed an armed rebellion against President Sukarno in 1957-58. His son’s career also benefited from close ties to the United States military, which trained him in the U.S. and provided the forces he commanded special training and access to U.S. military technology.

Prabowo’s military record, early on, demonstrated a disregard for human rights. In 1976, Prabowo was a commander of Group 1 Komando Pasukan Sandhi Yudha and took part in the Indonesian army’s Nanggala Operation in East Timor. He led the mission to track down Nicolau dos Reis Lobato, a founder and vice president of Fretilin, who became the first Prime Minister of East Timor after the declaration of independence in November 1975. Lobato – who had become East Timor’s second President – was shot in the stomach and killed after Prabowo’s company found him on 31 December 1977. The Indonesian military reportedly decapitated the body and sent Lobato’s head to Jakarta.

Prabowo was appointed vice commander of Kopassus’s Detachment 81 in 1983 before receiving commando training at Fort Benning, GA, in the U.S. As commander of Kopassus Group 3, Prabowo attempted to crush the East Timorese independence movement. To terrorize the population, he employed militias trained and directed by Kopassus commanders and hooded “ninja” gangs, who operated at night dressed in black. In East Timor, Prabowo “developed his reputation as the military’s most ruthless field commander. [1]


Prabowo is “somebody who is perhaps the greatest violator of human rights in contemporary times among the Indonesian military.”


While Prabowo’s notorious reputation is based, to a significant extent, on his 1998 anti-democratic and inhumane exploits and his role as a butcher in East Timor, less is known of the key role he played in West Papua. In 1996, Prabowo led the Mapenduma Operation to secure the release of 12 researchers from the World Wildlife Fund’s Lorentz expedition taken hostage by the OPM several months earlier. While five of the researchers were Indonesian, the others were English, Dutch and German. The presence of Europeans among those abducted drew international attention to the obscure struggle for self-determination in West Papua.
Prabowo seized upon the crisis as a means to enhance his reputation domestically and with the international community. He devised a plan whereby the hostages would be released via negotiations between himself and their captors. After lengthy negotiations mediated by the local office of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the OPM commander Kelly Kwalik agreed to turn over all hostages in exchange for a military promise of no reprisals and an ICRC pledge to establish a network of health clinics in the remote Mapenduma area. The deal fell through at the last minute.

The Indonesian military’s version of events, quickly accepted by Jakarta-based embassies which were monitoring developments, was that Kwalik had had an inexplicable “change of heart” and had fled the village of Geselema where the transfer of hostages was to take place. There followed a clumsy Indonesian military attack on the village (already evacuated by Kwalik) which killed up to eight civilians. The foreign hostages eventually escaped their captors and reached Indonesian military encampments.

However, in separate interviews with the author of this article, the two most senior ICRC officials provided an entirely different account of events. On the eve of the transfer, the senior ICRC official involved in the negotiations was summoned by Prabowo to his military headquarters in West Papua. There, an enraged Prabowo told the ICRC official that Suharto’s elder daughter, “Tutut,” was planning to fly to West Papua the following day to officiate at the hostage transfer in her capacity as Indonesian Red Crescent chairperson. This, Prabowo told the ICRC official, would rob him of the credit for the hostage rescue. Prabowo pressed the ICRC official to telephone Jakarta and press for Tutut to abort her mission. The ICRC official made the call but learned that Tutut was already enroute. Prabowo, according the two ICRC senior officials who spoke with this author, then moved to scuttle the transfer. This was done by conveying to Kwalik through a source Kwalik trusted that the Indonesian military had been acting in bad faith all along and would immediately target Kwalik and his personnel once the transfer had taken place. This, the ICRC officials claimed, was the reason for Kwalik’s last minute “change of heart.”


The aborted hostage transfer led to a brutal campaign of reprisal attacks by the Indonesian military (largely Kopassus) against highland villages thought to be sympathetic to the OPM.


The aborted hostage transfer led to a brutal campaign of reprisal attacks by the Indonesian military (largely Kopassus) against highland villages thought to be sympathetic to the OPM. The campaign began with the assault on tGeselema using an Indonesian military helicopter disguised to look like the helicopter that ICRC mediators had been using for several months. The ICRC officials told the author that the disguised helicopter and the use of the Red Cross insignia constituted a “perfidy” about which the ICRC could have protested, but did not. The consequence was to so damage the reputation of the ICRC with Papuans as to limit its effectiveness in West Papua for many years. (The Indonesian government subsequently forced the ICRC to close its office in Jayapura, an action unrelated to the Geselema affair.)

The reprisal campaign executed by Prabowo and Kopassus represents only a portion of Prabowo’s long record of involvement in West Papua, but is perhaps among the most important considerations for Papuans as they consider the prospect of a Prabowo presidency.

[1] Joseph Nevins, A Not-So Distant Horror, Mass Violence in East Timor, Cornell University Press, 2005. p. 61

UPDATE

Indonesian Security Forces Broaden Campaign Targeting Peaceful Papuan Dissidents

The December 17 Sydney Morning Herald reports that as 2012 drew to a close at least 22 Papuans associated with the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) had been murdered by Indonesian state security forces. Indonesian military and the so-called “anti-terrorist” Detachment 88 are leading perpetrators of this violence. Three KNPB members are missing and seven are detained. Over 200 Papuans with ties to the organization have been detained but later released, often after brutal treatment. The detain-and-release tactic is part of a broader strategy to intimidate Papuans who speak out in defense of their rights. The KNPB has drawn special attention by security forces because of its growing appeal and its blunt call for Papuan self determination.

J. Ruben Magay, Chairman of Committee A of the Papuan Legislative Council (DPRP),
told Papuan media on December 20 that it is incorrect to link the activities of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) to terrorism. “For quite some time now, some parties have referred to the KNPB as a terrorist organization but I wish to reiterate that KNPB is not a terrorist group. On the contrary they are an organization which promotes democracy in Papua and that is part of the controlling function and the ability to evaluate the performance of the government in the region,” Magay said.

“If it is said that there are terrorists in Papua, I think we should turn our attention to the level of performance of the security apparatus. It would be wrong to address one issue with another issue. There are terrorists that are known to be implicated in explosions. The question is now to what extent is the police able to ascertain them and subsequently how many further threats can be identified. This is what is important,” he said.

It would appear that the national police (POLRI) concur that the KNPB does not constitute a “terrorist threat. Responding to concern that the police would employ anti-terror legislation broadly against peaceful dissidents such as the KNPB. Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Tito Karnavian told media in late December that he could “ensure that we have no cases of criminals hiding behind the [Papuan] freedom movement.”

National Police Join Military in More Militant Approach in West Papua

National Police Criminal Investigation Division chief Commander Gen. Sutarman told media on December 18 that the police would employ the Antiterrorism Law No.15/2003 to deal with individuals or groups which he contended were “terrorizing” people in Papua, including those attacking police stations. Sutarman said the decision to use the law has nothing to do with the burgeoning separatist movement.


“We, Papuans, are not terrorists. I regret the decision to even think of using that law to respond to local violence. Even without that law, the police already treat Papuans as terrorists. Can you imagine what they would do with the [anti-terrorism] law?”


Catholic priest John Jonga warned that security personnel would take use of the law as license to use violence against Papuans in the name of counterterrorism. “We, Papuans, are not terrorists. I regret the decision to even think of using that law to respond to local violence. Even without that law, the police already treat Papuans as terrorists. Can you imagine what they would do with the law?”

Poengky Indarti of Imparsial suggested that the plan for the Antiterrorism Law in Papua, could heighten the already tense atmosphere in the province. “The law doesn’t provide a clear definition of terrorism. The police could interpret it subjectively and use it for their own purposes.”

Indonesian Military Shoot Seven Civilians, Killing Four

The Indonesian military shot seven Papuan fisherman near Pulau Papan District in West Papua, killing four, according to a December 28, 2012 report in Bintang Papua (translated by TAPOL). It is unclear why the men were shot and one solider is being questioned by the military police. The bodies of the four were under water for almost a week.

The South Sulawesi Families Association called on the military command to make a statement, but the military have as yet failed to clarify what happened. A spokesman of the association said that they were trying find other victims of the shooting.

Deforestation Continues at Rapid Pace

Latest Indonesian Forestry Ministry figures put the area of remaining primary rainforest in the Indonesian archipelago at less than half of the 130 million hectares of land the ministry currently defines as forest, with most of the remaining pristine rainforests in West Papua. Very little is left in Sumatra and Kalimantan. More than a third of Sumatra’s forests have been destroyed over the last 20 years. Recent expansion in Kalimantan has pushed deforestation rates to rival those recorded in Sumatra. Extractive industries are now targeting the largest remaining tracts of pristine rainforests in Papua.

CHRONICLE

Indonesian Security Forces Have Killed A Peaceful Activist in Custody

The Asian Human Rights Commission on December 21 issued an “urgent appeal” regarding the killing of a pro-independence Papuan activist while in custody and the wounding of a second. Reportedly, members of the infamous Detachment 88 shot both Hubertus Mabel and Natalis Alua, in Milima, Kurulu District on December 16. Hubertus Mabel was killed and Natalis Alua injured. The killing followed the arrest and interrogation at gun point of three other members of West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB) named Simeon Daby, Meki Kogoya and Wene Helakombo on December 15, 2012. Security officials forced the three KNPB members to lure Mabel and Alua to a fatal meeting at which Detachment 88 personnel fired on Mabel and Alua after they had been detained and were lying on the ground. Mabel was also stabbed in the chest.<

Locals Critique MIFEE Project

The Indigenous Peoples Organization of Bian Enim on December 21 released a powerful indictment of the impact of the Indonesian government’s MIFEE (the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate) project. The report highlights the environmental pollution and the failure to involve clan leaders in the planning. The organization demands include and end to the usurpation of private land and compensation for damage already caused.

The Alliance of Independent Journalists Reports Violence and Intimidation of Journalists on The Rise in Papua

The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) recorded twelve cases of violence and intimidation against journalists Papua during 2012. A significant increase as compared with 2011, when there were seven cases. The great majority of the cases involved physical abuse and intimidation by Indonesian security forces and other members of the Indonesian administration. In two instances the KNPB was implicated in the intimidation of journalists.

Eben Kirksey on West Papua

WPAT co-founder Dr. Eben Kirksey, author of Freedom in Entangled Worlds: West Papua and the Architecture of Global Power, recently published an article in the Huffington Post on developments in West Papua.

AWPA Sydney Produces West Papua Human Rights Review

The Australian West Papua Association Sydney has produced a detailed and comprehensive review of human rights developments in West Papua for 2012. The report details incidents of human rights abuses in the past year and in particular looks at the crackdown on the KNPB. The report offers recommendations to the Australian and Indonesian governments, and the leaders of the Micronesia Spearhead Group and Pacific Islands Forum.

Link to this issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2013/1301wpap.htm

Journalists face difficulties when trying to report about the trial of Buchtar Tabuni

JUBI
25 September 2012[Photo at the top of the report shows several of the police on guard, all of whom are heavily armed.]

The police who guarded the courthouse during the trial of Buchtar Tabuni made it difficult for some of the journalists wanting to cover the case to gain access to the court.

Benny Mawel of JUBI said: ‘I showed my press card but the police  insisted that I open my bag and take everything in it out for them to examine’ He said that access to the court had been made difficult.

Journalists were interrogated and the police demanded to see the contents of their cases. ‘This happened not only to me but to other journalists,’ said Benny Mawel, ‘even though we had clearly displayed our press cards.’

This did not happen during the earlier hearings of the trial.

A journalist  from Papua Pos Daily, Rudolf,  also said he had been heavily investigated. His bag had also been searched. He said that before entering the court, he hung his press cord round his neck but even so, the police examined the contents of his bag.

While on the one hand regretting the  measures taken against journalists by the police, Viktor Mambor, chairman of the Jayapura branch of the Alliance of Independent Journalists, AJI. said he hoped that journalists would understand what the police were doing.

”They certainly acted excessively and this should not be necessary this if journalists have clearly shown their press cards. But at the same time,’ he said,  ‘I could understand what they were doing because during an earlier discussion I had with the chief of police, there was concern about the fact that the credentials of some of the journalists were suspect because of recent indications about the involvement of certain pressmen in the recent violent conflict  in Papua.’

He went on to say that some time around July this year, a journalist had been interrogated by the police because he had reported that the Morning Star Flag had been flown on some occasions. In Papua, such reports only complicate matters because it stigmatises people, thereby legitimising excessive measures taken by the security forces. As Papuans, we have to understand this,’ he said.

Translated by TAPOL]

Indonesian colonial Media meddling inspires indp journalist to slam “fake journalism” in Papua

WEST PAPUA MEDIA Op-Ed:

June 30, 2012

An open letter from Victor Mambor, Head of the Jayapura Branch of the Alliance for Independent Journalists, has been circulated around Papua, highlighting the pervasive involvement of Indonesian intelligence personnel and military agendas in the Papuan press.

This letter (see below) comes at a time when the Indonesian-run colonial press in West Papua is coming under repeated attack from both Papuan and Indonesian religious and civil society figures, independent media and human rights organisations, for its unethical and blatantly false reportage of the recent upsurge in  “unknown killings” in Papua, referred to as OTK (orang tidak ketahui or unknown persons, now wryly referred to across Papua as Orang Terlatih Khusus or Specially Trained People).

Indonesian owned media outlets in Papua have long been identified with Indonesian intelligence and propaganda activities, with many outlets being directly owned by military officers for profit, and almost all media outlets coming under the control (either willing or not) of Indonesian intelligence personnel.

West Papua Media wrote a detailed section in the 2011 Pacific Media Freedom report and highlighted the issues faced with press freedom in West Papua, which detail the tactics Indonesian occupation forces use to limit factual reportage in Papua, and to dissuade journalists from doing their job.

However, as time wears on, the Indonesian colonial press is becoming even more blatant in pushing an agenda in step with the Indonesian military agenda.  This agenda is being keenly felt by members of the nonviolent civil resistance movement and Papuan civil society, particularly members of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), who are being blamed for the OTK campaign despite no evidence being presented to prove the military assertions, with what little evidence present having been entirely fabricated by a Police to terrified to point the finger at the real perpetrators of violence in Papua – their big brothers in the military.

This spreading of falsehood has reached a crescendo around the assassination of KNPB leader Mako Tabuni, who was gunned down in an execution on June 14 by Australian trained Detachment 88 officers in Jayapura.  Justifying their criminal act, Indonesian police have variously claimed that they shot Mako in self defence, despite many witness claims that he was shot in the back while on the ground.  Indonesian police then fabricated evidence including placing a handgun on his body in the hospital, and loudly announcing that Mako was responsible with other KNPB members for the series of OTK shootings, including the shooting of a German tourist.  This is despite the unchallenged fact that all shooting were carried out with men in broad daylight who made no attempt to hide and nonchalantly drove away in the DS (Police) plated Avanzas.

This was reported uncritically by many in the colonial Indonesian press in Papua, with ironically perhaps, the truth telling in Indonesian metropolitan media coming from independent human rights journalists who went out a their limbs by telling the story of the peaceful activist and freedom fighter whom they had all met and spent time with in his attempts to non-violently raise the issue of his peoples suffering under colonial genocidal policies.

Yet the shootings continue, even with the official suspect dead, with nary a comment coming from the colonial press, a situation that is a direct repetition of the assassination of Kelly Kwalik on December 16, 2010.  Kwalik was also blamed for the OTK shootings that have plagued the giant Freeport Grasberg Gold and copper mine for many years, shootings widely blamed on a spat between Brimob police and the TNI for control of mine protection and illegal gold mining businesses.  Again, despite the assassination of Kwalik (again by Detachment 88 officers), the shootings continue, and will continue as long as the Indonesian security forces use conflict as a way of guaranteeing their presence.  A presence that’s only purpose is to exploit natural resources and make the General’s money – at the heart of why Papuan people resist the colonisation of their Land.

Leader of the indigenous Papuan Kingmi church, the Reverend Benny Giay, was this week in Jakarta to brief international diplomats about the shootings and recent massive increases in state violence against Papuan people.  In his briefing, he said that when the government has claims shootings are carried out by separatist groups, Papuans respond to those claims with their usual: “Oh itu lagu lama. The authorities are playing the old song.”

As Mambor has outlined in his letter, Giay made a series of formal complaints to the Indonesian Press Council and journalists’ associations about the lack of integrity of Indonesian so-called journalists in Papua and of their non-factual scapegoating of ordinary Papuans for separatist and violent actions.  This seems to have already threatened powerful people, as a source close to Giay had told West Papua Media that he was physically threatened by a member of the security forces during his advocacy work in Jakarta.

But this behaviour by intelligence services and their not-very-opaque “journalists” is causing many independent media to look at other tactics to regain their Papuan voices.

Just as Victor Mambor has done with his heartfelt letter, the independent Papuan citizen media outlet UMAGI News has taken a bold step in publicly naming a group of Indonesian reporters that it believes are paid intelligence officers under the command of the Cenderwasih military command.

 
PAPUAN JOURNALISTS: STOP TERROR ON PRESS REPORTERS(PHOTOS: GOOGLE via UmagiNews.com)
In an editorial, UmagiNews  have argued that most Indonesians who serve in professional Media in Papua do not carry out the tasks and functions of a journalist.  “Whether in Print, electronic or online media, (journalists should) convey information what has happened, seen, heard, felt.  To be independent means to report the events and  facts  in accordance with the voice of conscience without interference, coercion, and the  intervention  of other parties including the owners of the press,” said the Umagi editorial.
“Accurate means truthful according to the objective circumstances when the event occurs; Balanced means that all parties have equal opportunity to have their views heard; and to not act in bad faith means no deliberate and sole intent of  the detriment of others.  Yet according to KM a Papuan independent journalist, most journalists who served in Papua have always worked closely with the military, which is a violation of  the journalistic code of ethics.”
Umagi News published the names of the following reporters whom it says it has gathered evidence that shows their active collaboration as informers and/or trained agents  with civilian or military intelligence services.  Umagi claims its information has come from sources within both the security forces, and from a TNI document from the command of the XVII/Cenderawasih Military Region Taskforce 6  “datasheet of  informants/agents”, signed by one Ahmad Fikri Musmar (NRP inf Captain 11,970,044,410,576).  All suspects are ethnic Indonesians and non-Papuan.

1). M. Imran (Contributor TV One) .

2). Robert Vanwi (Suara Pembaruan).

3). Safe Hasibuan (Bisnis Papua and Radio Elshinta).

4). Alfius (Pasifik Post).

6). Rio (Radio Enarotali RPD).

7). Agus Suroto (Metro TV).

8). Evarianus M Supar (2000-2002: Journalist at Radar Kupang Timor, 2003-2006: Journalist / Editor Timika Pos Daily, 2007 – Now:  Journalist and Antara’s Timika agent).

9). Anis (SCTV Contributor, Mimika) Note: The concerned had fled from Timika since the shooting of Kelly Kwalik.

10). Odyi (RRI Sorong, Chairman PWI Sorong).

11).Jeffry (Radar and Dita Sorong Sorong).

12). Angelbertha Sinaga (Pasifik Post).

West Papua Media has sought clarification from independent journalists and human rights sources in West Papua about the veracity of these names, and our sources have concurred with the accuracy of the names given in the Umagi report, though West Papua Media has not yet been able to see the document first hand. (UPDATE: WPM has possession of the original Kodim document and has verified all names contained, independently).
However this is not a new claim. For example, On May 16, The TNI held a major meeting with Indonesian press representatives in Sorong, and encouraged soldiers and journalists to work together to ensure “balanced coverage of the affairs of the function and duties of the TNI… so that it can be beneficial for society.”  The commander of the TNI in Sorong, Colonel Inf Wiharsa Eka, even exhorted all present to monitor events together, as “it runs the full atmosphere of intimate friendship, and even a means to know each other. The journalists should exchange phone numbers, either with me or Danyon commander (Commander Batalyon),” said the Colonel.  With friends like these soldiers, how could an honest journalist possibly have any fears of reporting events factually in Papua?
Papuan people reclaiming their own media space is an inevitable next step in the struggle for self-determination.  The building a free and robust credible independent media is the basis for any democratic society  – and indeed this is the core mission of West Papua Media.  But Indonesia’s deliberate manipulation of the truth and its corruption of the principles of journalism in West Papua, together with the ongoing and constant threats to brave professional and citizen journalists in Papua for telling the truth, are giving those committed to genuine journalism more impetus every day to give voice to the voiceless, and to help the voiceless roar in Papua.
(dedicated to the brave storytellers of freedom risking their lives everyday in Papua to bring light to a darkened place).
Nick Chesterfield @West Papua Media

———-

Open letter from Victor Mambor, Head of the Jayapura Branch of the Alliance for Independent Journalists

June 28, 2012, Jayapura

Respected Colleagues and Friends,

This is related to the many people that have recently commented that I (in my capacity as head of the Jayapura city branch of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) that covers the whole Land of Papua) have complained about, given reminders or admonishments or engaged in other actions that are basically protests against the (local or national) mass media’s reporting, considering it one-sided, deceiving the public, manipulatory, biased towards those in power and reflecting the interests of politicians and the security forces. In this regard I feel the need to communicate the following points:

1. AJI is a professional organisation of independent character and so places a high value on the media’s independence.

2. Journalists and their reporting are fully the responsibility of the editorial team at the journalist’s place of work, or where the news they produce is published.

3. AJI does not assume a capacity to take action against journalists or media who are considered to have taken action such as listed above. It can only take action if a member is considered to have violated the journalist’s code of ethics and that of AJI as a professional organisation.

4. I also truly understand how many colleagues and friends feel about reporting that tends to push indigenous Papuan people into a corner, and so seems to endorse the view that indigenous Papuans are separatists and the perpetrators of recent acts of violence. For this reason I very much support the actions Benny Giay CS has taken in making complaints to press and journalist organisations in Jakarta about this problem.

5. There is no need to feel hesitant or reluctant about placing limits on journalists during press conferences or activities. If it is suspected that someone is not a journalist, do not hesitate to remove them or report them to the police. There is no way to justify or defend journalists like this. Many journalists even have a dual job, also acting as informants for interested parties and are involved in the marginalisation of indigenous Papuans and feeding the stigma that they are separatists. Pay close attention to media or journalists who often mention the name Dani Kogoya or the confiscation of Morning Star flags, bullets etc. (this is about journalists present at the scene of an incident, not those reporting from police press conferences), or those that have produced features for television about young people who are OPM members, or journalists who are able to obtain special reports about the OPM or unrest in the interior connected to the OPM. These are the journalists and media which you should be cautious about. These no-good journalists’ space to operate must be curtailed because aside from selling out their profession they are also destroying Papua and propagating the stigma of Papuans as separatists. Watch out for and be careful with such journalists. Because from my own observations, many of us are so keen to progress that we do not act with caution and we are not aware if our activities are being recorded to be later reported to certain parties, and will be used in constructing counter-opinions.

6. An attendance list is vital for activities or press conferences. It means that if a media outlet or journalist was not present at an event but then writes report on the activity or what was mentioned in the press conference, it can be reported as a form of deception or unethical activity for a journalist. Such journalistic practices cannot be justified, but find fertile ground amongst journalists in Papua.

Those were the matters which I needed to communicate,

With thanks,

Victor Mambor

West Papua new Pacific media black spot

Cartoon from the Pacific Journalism Review report. © Malcolm Evans 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

  • Listen/Download: MP3 

MELBOURNE (Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat / Pacific Media Watch): A new report on Pacific media freedom says the most serious cases of media freedom violations in the Pacific in the past year occurred in West Papua.

The report by the Auckland-based Pacific Journalism Review says repression in the province has now also reached the news media.

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

Presenter: Geraldine Coutts
Speaker: Associate Professor David Robie, director, Pacific Media Centre

ROBIE: But there are very good networks of sources of information and there is also a major media  freedom organisation in Indonesia, the Alliance of Independent Journalists which has a very strong chapter in West Papua and feeds information very much to international media freedom organisations, because it’s not only Papuan journalists that face such repression, but it’s also Indonesian journalists working in the area.

COUTTS: Alright, can you just give us some examples of what’s actually happening, the conditions under which the journalists are now working?

ROBIE: Well, there was a big focus on the troubles in West Papua, in fact really since the early part of August and, of course, last week, at Freeport mine, there has been a shooting of protesters. The mine workers were protesting over the working conditions of the mine, but that was really a focus on the general sort of situation that journalists actually have to report on.

Our report largely dealt with the year which would normally have ended about July, but because of the major situation in West Papua at the time, we also included August. But essentially in the past year, there’ve been two killings of journalists, five abductions or attempted abductions, 18 assaults, including the stabbing of a journalist by two people on a motorbike and so on. And there have been repeated cases of intimidation and aggression against journalists and then, of course, there’s the general pattern of censorship by civil and military authorities.

In West Papua, not only the general sort of situation facing journalists, such as criminal libel, but there is a crime of makar, or subversion, of which is a concern for journalists too.

COUTTS: So that’s on a day-to-day basis and what about the public at large, are they similarly being affected?

ROBIE: Well yes, I mean that’s really a microcosm, if you like, of the broader situation. At the moment, there’s the third Papuan People’s Congress that just opened yesterday in Jayapura and there’s a general mood of dissension right through Papua.

COUTTS: And how did you conduct your research Dr. Robie?

ROBE: There is basically a network of people who have contributed to this report. Alex Perrottet, who is main co-author. He is Pacific Media Watch contributing editor. But we actually had quite a number of people that contributed to this report and they’re named in the report, including Nick Chesterfield, who is from the West Papuan Media network. He’s the editor there.

COUTTS: And the most recent incident was a couple of arrests by Indonesian authorities in Jayapura for being in possession of material that featured the banned West Papuan Morning Star flag of independence?

ROBIE: Yes, and that’s a constant sort of threat against all Papuans. In fact, I believe there’s been a call not to raise the Morning Star flag at this Papuan Congress this week, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens during that period.

COUTTS: Well, it’s a rather large report, West Papua obviously features. What countries did you look at?

ROBIE: Well, we looked at most of the Pacific region with the exception of the American territories, but I think it’s the most comprehensive report that’s actually been on media freedom in the Pacific. It was a 39 page report, but it’s focused largely on the Pacific Island Forum countries, including Australia and New Zealand, of course, but largely focusing on the island countries. But we also looked at the French territories, we looked at East Timor as well as West Papua. We made a particular feature of West Papua, although, of course, there are major sections in the report that deal elsewhere with Fiji, Vanuatu, in particular, that are ongoing freedom concerns.

COUTTS: And how did the French territories rate?

ROBIE: The most interesting thing there, of course, there’s been a development that’s been since the report and that’s the feature of Tahiti Presse, the state-funded sort of newsagency which is for the chop, in terms of budget cut backs and so on. But that’s quite a blow, not only for Tahiti, but also the rest of the Pacific, because the Tahiti Presse actually provided a very good English language service for the region and so that’s really going to hamper the coverage from that part of the Pacific.

In New Caledonia, it’s been more of an issue of the rearrangement of the French media laws and how that’s affecting the territories. But over the past year, there are no particular major incidents involving, say individuals or threats against individuals or such incidents.

So outside West Papua, of course, Fiji remains the overriding concern for the region.

COUTTS: When you look at media freedom, what were the premises, I mean what did you declare was media freedom and that which fell below that particular bar?

ROBIE: Well, we looked at quite a range of issues, we basically looked at areas of censorship, areas of danger and threat to individual journalists, we looked at the legal frameworks affecting all the territories, the report includes quite a chart doing a comparative study of all the territories in the region. We looked at areas such as criminal libel; and particular legal threats that journalists may face. We looked at institutional censorship and we looked at the passage of laws, such as freedom of information. Of course, the Cook Islands is the only Pacific Islands country that has freedom of information legislation, that came in 2009 and it hasn’t been working as well as it might, but at least it’s a chink or opening for the whole region. But in contrast, to say Australia, for example, where there’s been a whole host of reforms and the freedom of information laws that have been generally quite beneficial or in the process of making those changes. It’s been a slow process in the Pacific.

COUTTS: And also there’s the accusation by Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, that she doesn’t think that she’s getting a fair go from one of the media outlets here. Was that something that was included?

ROBIE: Not specifically that, but we did look at quite a lot of the legal changes in Australia and we also looked at the consequences of the phone hacking scandal in Britain, News of the World and with the inquiry that’s being set up in Australia. So we looked at those sort of patterns, we looked at individual arrests and the shield laws, all of those sort of issues were canvassed in Australia.

COUTTS: And because the reason I ask you to define what you determined was media freedom was because there are some countries, some of the smaller countries that the government’s have something to say if their press release aren’t published. So the media outlets have to do it whether they want to or not. Does that come across the path of media freedom or lack thereof?

ROBIE: Yes, well I mean and we’ve particularly looked at the dangers of Fiji, particularly the censorship that takes place since the media decree was imposed and what an extremely poor model that is for the whole region and very threatening to other countries, because let’s face it, we’ve had pressure on journalists, well ever since the 1987 coups, and politicians by and large around the Pacific don’t have a high opinion of the media and have a very poor understanding of the role of the media in any country that is a democracy. And so many politicians have actually looked rather with some admiration at what Fiji has done and would love to have the opportunity to do something similar. So the longer the censorship regime continues in Fiji, well, it’s really a cancer on media freedom for the whole region.

COUTTS: Well, you have a vested interest, of course, recent talk where the next PINA meeting might be held in Fiji, because PNG can’t host it. So I just wonder what that actually says about yourself who’ve been banned and kicked out, Sean Dorney, and Barbara Dreaver ? Three of the region’s senior journalists won’t be able to attend the meeting like that?

ROBIE: Well, I’ve never been banned. I’ve had more problems with the French authorities than the Pacific. I lived in Fiji for five years and was head of the journalism program there. But the point you’re making is actually a very serious one and I think it points to a major division among journalists and in the media industry itself about the role of Fiji and how Fiji should be dealt with. Of course there are those who argue that the Pacific Island News Association should have got out of Fiji long ago and set up somewhere else, where it can actually operate with relative freedom. But there are others who argue that well, “Hang on, we’ve got more chance of actually forcing some kind of change on the regime in Fiji by actually having contact and dialogue and having a chance to actually sort of reason”. And I don’t think those sorts of divisions have really been resolved. The plans for having this conference there in March, next year, I think are very fraught and a lot of dangers involved with this. It will make a mockery of such a conference if many people can’t come simply because they’re going to be barred by the regime.

COUTTS: Now just to wrap it up David. The 39-page report overall, what’s the state of censorship across the Pacific, is it a good or bad one?

ROBIE: Well, it’s a worrying one I’d say, it’s a worrying one, but the report does make a comparison, I guess, and this is where West Papua’s quite important. But you have to put things in context globally and when you look at countries like the Philippines, where journalists are murdered with impunity and you go back to the massacre back in November, 2009. In that sort of context, the Pacific’s not too bad. However, it needs to have a very vigilant campaign by advocacy groups and a constant watch, because essentially politicians are not very favourable with the media and they would like any opportunity to have a clamp down, so the more so the more that this is put under the spotlight, the better.

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Full Pacific media freedom report

AJI Papua Presses Police About Lack of Progress Over Stabbing

Media information FYI

The Jakarta Globe
Sunday, March 27, 2011

AJI Papua Presses Police About Lack of Progress Over Stabbing

The Papua chapter of the Alliance of Independent Journalists has
expressed frustration with the sluggish pace of police investigations
into the stabbing of local journalist Banjir Ambarita.

“The investigation is taking too long, that is why we are monitoring
the case closely,” said Viktor Mambor, chairman of the Papuan branch
of the alliance also known as the AJI. “We are going to do something
to pressure the police, like hold a protest rally.”

“The new [Papua] police chief was once in Densus [the National
>Police’s counterterrorism unit], investigating a case like this should
be easier than capturing terrorists,” he said.

Banjir, a freelance reporter and contributor to the Jakarta Globe, was
attacked in Jayapura by two men on a motorcycle as he was riding his
own motorcycle home shortly after midnight on March 3.

The Jayapura Police’s detective unit questioned Banjir on Friday, more
than three weeks after the stabbing. “Because Banjar Ambarita’s
condition has improved, we formally asked him for information in
relation to the stabbing,” said First Adj. Insp. Widodo, an officer in
the unit. “A total of 37 questions were posed and were answered well.

“We have already questioned five witnesses, but we have yet to find a
lead,” he added.

Viktor said the AJI appreciated the police’s efforts but said: “Even
though they are working quite well in carrying out their job, this does not guarantee that they are taking the case seriously.”

Poengky Indarty, director of external relations at rights group Imparsial, said that as a defender of human rights in Papua, it was
vital that Banjir be protected.

“Until today, the perpetrators responsible for the violence have not
been identified,” she said. “We urge the Papuan Police to make every
effort to catch the offenders and legally process them.”

She said Banjir had provided police with information to make a sketch
of his attackers. “We want them to investigate based on this sketch
and look into police officers who may be involved in the case,” she
said.
Nurfika Osman