Tag Archives: citizen media development

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

The Arab Spring: a harbinger for a “global spring” against oppressive rule?

(published with especial relevance to West Papua)

by Edmund McWilliams

Democracy, respect for human rights, good governance – these are the themes that have been on the lips of peaceful demonstrators from the Mediterranean to the Arabian sea.

In country after country, Arab men and women, young and old have showed extraordinary courage, facing down dictators and autocrats even when those corrupt leaders have employed the full weight of their armed forces against the unarmed protesters.

The Choice of Papuan People (Photo courtesy KNPB)

The inspiration of one young Tunisian who sacrificed himself in protest has spread from one Arab nation to another, in each country people coming to the profound realization, ‘if they can do it there, we can do it here.’

The largely peaceful demonstrations have not had an Arab or a Muslim character. Rather, common to all these peaceful revolts is a pent up desire for freedom and a new sense that change is possible.

We have seen similar uprisings which have swept vast areas:  the East European spring in the late 1980’s; the anti-colonial movement that followed World War II.  These, like the “Arab Spring” were trans-cultural, and transnational.   They derived their power from a common frustration with abusive, and sometimes foreign rule and a conviction that, in the words of the revolutionary mantra, “a people united can never be defeated.”

So we are left with the question of whether this movement will be confined to
Arab peoples, and largely to Muslims.  Or will this struggle for democracy and respect for human rights extend to non-Arab and non-Muslim cultures and peoples who also have suffered under brutal rule?  Will Tahrir square be emulated in Beijing, in Tashkent, in Hanoi, in Vientiane, in Rangoon and Pyongyang.  Will the Papuans, Montagnards, Hmong and Karen draw inspiration from the “Arab Spring” and break the colonial chains that have enslaved them to demand genuine autonomy or even full independence?  The physical and cultural distance separating Papuans in the Puncak Jaya or Hmong in Phong Saly from the “Arab Street” may seem to place them
in different worlds but they have a common experience in their suffering under undemocratic rule.

Is the “Arab Spring” a harbinger for a “global spring” that challenges oppressive rule around the world? For now, we can only assume that autocrats around the globe are sleeping more fitfully.

May their nightmares come true.

Edmund McWilliams
Retired senior U.S. Foreign Service Officer

Broadcasting Papua’s Songs of Freedom: Why the international community must support West Papua’s citizen media development

FREE THE PEOPLE? FREE THE MEDIA!

by Nick Chesterfield

A Paper presented at the University of Sydney Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies “Comprehending Papua Conference”, February 22-23, 2011.    This paper will form a chapter of the forthcoming book “Comprehending Papua”, to be published in early 2011 by the University of Sydney Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.

———

It is almost a cliché today that peoples wishing to free themselves from tyranny are turning in huge numbers to citizen journalism both to tell their stories to the outside world, and to put a formidable brake on the out of sight, out of mind mentality that allows state organs to conduct constant abuse with impunity. The rise of citizen media is giving mainstream journalism the kick it needs to remember its core business of giving voice to the voiceless.  In West Papua, the Voiceless are slowly discovering they can roar.

Just a few weeks ago an event occurred in Tunisia that was to be the spark for the pan-Arab awakening which has just seen yet another dictator ousted, now in Egypt.  After a local trader immolated himself in protest against the Tunisian regime, citizen media succeeded in viralizing the news of this event.  “We could protest for two years here, but without videos no one would take any notice of us,” said a relative of the martyred 25-year-old.

For media activists and journalists reporting Papua, this truth is self-evident, and its acceptance hopefully could ignite the spark of uprising in Papua.  The opportunities presented by the Pan-Arab (and other) awakenings are not being lost on the young generation in Papua.  Social media in Papua is buzzing, unafraid, with vibrant discussions of implications for Papua of the pan-Arabic revolutionary success.  The reality is that a spontaneous awakening and mass politicisation of ordinary Papuans is completely inevitable, and it is being ably assisted by switched-on local people developing their capacity to tell the story to the world.

In researching for several stories over the last few months, my sources have told me in no uncertain terms that they are all ready for a trigger to explode the situation.  The only thing holding back sustained mass action – revolution even – across occupied Papua is the constant bickering between exile groups, the actions of the collaborator elites, desperate to cling to the illusion that Jakarta is not there just to steal their land and send them to the moon, and for those who will put their own interests ahead of those surviving under occupation.

What is a mystery is how this mass consciousness will survive the elite and exile power games that are evident in most transitional polities throughout recent history (and is certainly present in West Papua today); whether those exiles will hijack the efforts of the young generation or listen to the actual wishes of their people; and if Jakarta can be trusted not to unleash the truly evil and deeply entrenched habitual brutality that is its only constant in becoming the new colonialists; or that they will claim their place amongst the civilised by not slaughtering those who want peace. History is a wise teacher, and its lesson is never trust the evil or greedy to reform of its own accord.

To keep these ugly realities in check, West Papua (and the international community) needs a determined, effective, vibrant and fearless citizen and professional media to deliver real-time accountability both internally and internationally.

Real time advocacy is vital for the international community to act to end Papua’s suffering.  Human Rights advocates conduct scientific research into abuses, but because this information does not get out easily, the problems in Papua are only now getting known to the world.

I need to ask you all today an honest question:  without the hard work of journalists in Papua and those outside assisting them to get their voice to international media, would Papua even be in people’s consciousness today?   So why is the international arena concerned with West Papua falling prey to the disease of factionalism and Big Man syndrome, and not in assisting WestPapuan people to get their stories into the living rooms of the world?

Many loud mouthed exiles claim significant legitimacy, but baulk and splutter when asked to prove it.   This has developed a culture of opacity across the exile movement.  A strong and diverse citizen based media across Papua can easily counter exile’s game playing and false claims by ensuring credibility and honesty in social movements. It benefits and strengthens social movements too by giving the skills and practice for sharpening their message, and creating a powerful argument for international support for their aims.  Strong domestic media also removes international government’s excuses for inaction, by seriously raising the credibility and verification bar.

If the international community is serious about improving the lives of Papuan people, it will help develop the capacity of the West Papuan media to tell the story of what is going on, and press Jakarta hard to allow immediate international media access.  After all, with full accountability, what is there to be afraid of?

Largely in response to years of wilful ignorance and self-censorship of the Indonesian created horrors in West Papua by international media, many sectors of Papuan society spontaneously and independently began a dramatic take-up of social media technology, exponentially increasing since 2008. Blogs, social networking and online media outlets are being utilized all over the country, by a young generation of Papuans impatient for real change.  Today’s mass Papuan movement is mainly urban, educated, innovative, nonviolence based, and embracing significantly the power of citizen and social media as a key plank of civil resistance strategy.

Very occasionally West Papua does get in the news, but only through the co-ordination between committed journalists and human rights workers working together and ear-bashing news editors.

Due to the ongoing ban by Indonesia on international media and humanitarian organisations having access to Papua, allegations of abuse are notoriously difficult to verify.  While this ban remains in place, only the most dedicated journalists make the effort to go in undercover.   West Papua Media has been proud to facilitate undercover trips into occupied territory to meet with many West Papuan people prepare to tell their own story. This is getting more difficult by the day so local people are working for a solution.

Live images, videos and online activism by Papuan people have already created tremendous momentum in action and awareness of Papua.  By creating their own media, and their own narrative, Papuan people are reclaiming self-determination denied for so long.

Reporting in West Papua is a highly risky business.   Journalists, Papuan and outsiders alike, are under constant threats for reporting West Papua, with four journalists dying in suspicious circumstance in 2010 alone.  Anywhere journalists report fearlessly they are targets, but most journalists in West Papua simply put up with it, they have no other option.  What can we do to lessen their risk?

Partly in response to this danger and partly to give local journalists a voice globally, West Papua Media (WPMA) (WestPapuaMedia.Info) was started. It aims to provide a professional service to international media covering West Papua, ensuring high quality, verifiable reporting gets into the international media, directly from the ground, and not from those who seek to distort the truth of daily experience in Papua.  By reporting Papuan campaigns to end human rights abuses and bringing these unreported Papuan issues to the front page, we hope to hold the abusers to account. With an ever growing stable of committed and disparate voices from citizen media to professional journalists, West Papua Media is proud and excited to be part of this movement.

Some of our real time work has assisted directly in the prevention of mass acts of violence by the Indonesian security forces, such as our coverage and media advocacy fixing of the July 8-9 Otsus Gagal demos and occupation of the Jayapura DPRP.

Less than ten minutes before the deadline for dispersal of the 2 day rally of over 45,000 people, Indonesian security forces were forced to back down after a BBC report aired, organised by WPMA, which brought international attention the explosively dangerous situation.  Extensive international diplomacy occurred in that 15 minutes and, together with the extreme discipline of the mass protest, enabled the protestors to peaceably leave the scene of the protest without violence.

WPMA has worked very hard raising the media profile of West Papua, with significant joint investigations with major media outlets breaking several key stories in 2010.  None of this would be possible without deep trust from the people of Papua in reporting their stories.  West Papuan citizen media, in conjunction with several colleagues here today, played a key role in alerting the world to deeply heinous cases of abuse.

One was the sourcing, verification and release of the deeply shocking leaked Kostrad torture videos of civilians in Puncak Jaya. The Kiwo incident neatly captures why the Indonesian military cannot be trusted to reform themselves from the inside, and why the role of a robust media is so critical in Papua.

The other was footage of Indonesian BRIMOB police taunting a former political prisoner Yawan Wayeni, having disembowelled him moments before for arguing with them. Both these videos showed the power of citizen media in activating international human rights networks to effectively raise the issue of Papua. Of course, there are many more videos in preparation for release.

A swarm movement cannot have a single media strategy, but media need to understand that it will get media out in its own way too.  The media that had wilfully ignored West Papua’s voice for so long really has no right to dictate how information disseminates, and if it wants to get the stories before others, then it just has to move faster.  Because it is new media techniques that have already, and will propel Papua onto the front page, to make people choke on their cornflakes.

Likewise, evidence dissemination also needs multiple, failsafe distribution routes: Single dissemination routes can easily be shut down or silenced.  West Papuans have tailored their mechanisms to this very effectively; yet this is significantly frustrating outside journalists.  According to many in mainstream media, West Papuans can be their own worst enemy when it comes to disseminating information.  People on the ground do need to get smarter about media distribution strategies, but the media also must adapt to a social and cultural reality.  West Papuan human rights and citizen media are not chaotic: they are maximising the potential audience  for their information.

It is important to understand that no one faction or sector in West Papua can claim dominance or leadership of this mass movement. This is not Congress in India and there is no single Gandhi figure. Rather, this is a movement with thousands of Gandhis.  The civil movement refuses to be based around a single leadership group, and instead features multitudes of groups and tribes all acting autonomously and independently (where everyone knows their role and works their hardest) but which is nevertheless unified under its collective goals.

Such a swarm structure can occasionally present difficulties for those who cannot think outside traditional top-down strategies for national change, which includes traditional media. Rather than being shut out of dialogue by the game playing of unaccountable elites, this type of structure encourages a longer lasting peace by enabling all actors to have their voices heard. It is also a natural strategy to employ in a nation where it is,  for the most part, illegal to congregate in groups.

Other barriers for West Papuan media are much more easily solved with a bit of training, and understanding the enemy (this time the enemy being the unreasonable expectations of media executives far removed from reality).

One issue is the lack of speed with which many West Papuan media activists work, and whilst improving, an event on a day has to be filmed, edited, packaged and disseminated as fast as possible. There are issues of journalistic discipline and professional journalistic practice in new media; safe information gathering, abuse documentation and investigative journalism methodology; information quality assurance; protection of sources, and more.

Effective citizen and professional media training is required to develop awareness of major current and future challenges to safe information dissemination – these are all programs that the West Papua Media network is currently engaged in and it needs help to increase its capacity.

All of this costs money, and requires the international community to understand that the development of indigenous journalism in West Papua is crucial to the protection of human security and peace across the entire Asia-Pacific region.  It requires international institutions in media and academia to get out of their cloisters and get muddy, to actually pool resources and help identify new sources of sustainable funding to start training journalists in innovative new media reportage techniques, and to support their work for the global human interest.  As I said before, West Papua Media already has training programs ready to go, we just need the funds to make them happen.

In West Papua, as across the world, accountability is always the simplest solution to combatting impunity. An aggressive culture of investigative journalism must be encouraged, and the skills to enable it must be developed, to deliver that accountability, be it in human rights, against military business mafias and corruption, human security, environmental protections, etcetera, and to cover (and protect) the desires of a population to determine their own future, in both the current occupation and in any situation for the future.  Both academia and international media must take a strong role in its development, to embed international protections to enable West Papua’s journalists and citizen media to report without fear, hindrance or threat, the stories that are important to West Papuan people and their freedom.

Our hope is that we have a really robust citizen media that can deliver accountability.  We want to stop people from being afraid of speaking out, and we want West Papua’s voice to be its weapon, to broadcast its songs for Freedom.

Nick Chesterfield, editor at westpapuamedia.info, is a human security journalist and activist with extensive experience of the Papua issue through refugee protection, human rights, environmental protection, and citizen media work and safety training. He has conducted many field investigations in the West Papuan region since 1999. Together with citizen media and human rights workers from inside Papua, Chesterfield helped set up West Papua Media in 2008, to counter the wilful lack of coverage of West Papua by the international press.