West Papua violence hits Indonesian RSF media rankings – NZ, Fiji fall

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Item: 7803

PARIS (Reporters sans frontières / Pacific Media Watch): An Indonesian military crackdown in the West Papua region, where at least two journalists were killed, five kidnapped and 18 assaulted in 2011, is the main reason for the country’s fall to 146th position in the annual Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

A corrupt judiciary that is too easily influenced by politicians and pressure groups and government attempts to control the media and Internet have prevented the development of a freer press, said the 2011 RSF report released today.

West Papua strongly featured in an earlier Pacific Journalism Review media freedom report which condemned Indonesia’s human rights record in October.

Fiji, which has a draconian media decree imposed by the military backed regime that seized power in a 2006 coup, dropped again to 117th. The survey was completed before the Pacific country lifted  its Public Emergency Regulations (PER) earlier this year.

Countries that have “traditionally been good performers in the Asia-Pacific region did not shine in 2011”, the RSF report said.

“With New Zealand’s fall to 13th position, no country in the region figured among the top 10 in the index.

“Hong Kong (54th) saw a sharp deterioration in press freedom in 2011 and its ranking fell sharply.

“Arrests, assaults and harassment worsened working conditions for journalists to an extent not seen previously, a sign of a worrying change in government policy.

“In Australia (30th), the media were subjected to investigations and criticism by the authorities, and were denied access to information, while in Japan (22nd) coverage of the tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear accident gave rise to excessive restrictions and exposed the limits of the pluralism of the country’s press.”

The best ranked Pacific Islands nation was Papua New Guinea (35th), three places above France (38th) which has territories in the region.

Samoa (54th) ranked equal with Hong Kong, just ahead of the United States territories and well clear of Tonga (63rd) and Timor-Leste (86th). Vanuatu, which has been a problem over the past year, was not listed. Nor was the Solomon Islands.

“In the Philippines (140th), which rose again in the index after falling in 2010 as a result of the massacre of 32 journalists in Ampatuan in November 2009, paramilitary groups and private militias continued to attack media workers,” the RSF report said.

“The judicial investigation into the Ampatuan massacre made it clear that the response of the authorities was seriously inadequate.

“In Afghanistan (150th) and Pakistan (151st), violence remained the main concern for journalists, who were under constant threat from the Taliban, religious extremists, separatist movements and political groups.

“With 10 deaths in 2011, Pakistan (151st) was the world’s deadliest country for journalists for the second year in a row.”

Full RSF world press freedom report index – Asia-Pacific

Pacific Journalism Review 2011 media freedom report

AHRC: INDONESIA: Security forces open fire at Third Papuan People’s Congress

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INDONESIA: Security forces open fire at Third Papuan People’s Congress

(Hong Kong, October 19, 2011) At around 3pm today the security forces surrounding the Third Papuan People’s Congress in Indonesia opened fire and dispersed the event. Possible casualties are not known as of now. Several persons are reported to have been arrested, including Forkorus Yaboisembut and Edison Waromi, indigenous political leaders.

The AHRC has received reports from several credible sources about the violent intervention by the Indonesian military (TNI) and the mobile brigades of the police (BRIMOB) at the Tunas Harapan field in Abepura, Papua, where the event took place. See our earlier press release in which the AHRC reported the military and police’s aggressive approach to the event. Some reports allege that several persons have been killed.

There are fears that raids by the security forces through the town, as seen in the past, may be repeated tonight. In several past instances, the police and military tortured and shot suspects. The situation in the wider Jayapura and Abepura area remains tense. Shops are closed and traffic is blocked by the security forces.

More than 2000 members of the army and police were reported to have been mobilised.

“This violent intervention and use of firearms is a disproportional use of force to deter the participants of this event, and violates their right to freedom of expression and political opinion,” said Wong Kai Shing, Executive Director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, in response to the violence.

“The current situation requires close monitoring,” he continued. “We call on all authorities to ensure that any arrested persons are not subjected to torture and their procedural rights are protected. Any arrested persons should be charged with internationally recognised crimes based on evidence or released immediately.”

URGENT – AHRC: Authoritarian style show of force at Third Papuan People’s

BRIMOB vehicle
Image via Wikipedia


Security forces in Jayapura

(Hong Kong, Jayapura, October 19, 2011) About 100 TNI soldiers and several members of the mobile brigade of the police (BRIMOB) are reported to have approached closer to the location where the Third Papuan People’s Congress in Jayapura, Papua is currently being held. The organisers fear that the mass violence frequently perpetrated by the armed forces and police may be repeated in this event.

Some journalists are reported to have been blocked from accessing the area and reporting on the event.

The West Papua National Committee called for this Third Papuan People’s Congress and one of the aims of the Congress is to select a new leadership.

“This heavy and disproportional deployment of force is a threat to the security of a peaceful gathering of indigenous Papuan people,” said Wong Kai Shing, Executive Director of the Asian Human Rights Commission. He went on to say, “It is the duty of the Indonesian authorities to protect their right to freedom of expression and assembly and to refrain from causing any intimidations or making threats.”

Thousands of indigenous Papuans joined a march in Jayapura/Abepura to inaugurate the event earlier this week. An estimated 4000 persons are reported to currently being attending the event on its third day. However, several expected participants have either left the location or decided not to attend following the heavy and intimidating show of force by the army and police. About 2200 members of the security forces were reported to have been mobilised in the wider Jayapura area.

On this third day of the event, four police cars, two armoured vehicles from the police and a further two armoured vehicles from the mobile brigades of the police (BRIMOB) have approached the area. More than a hundred members of the security forces have formed a cordon at the fence at the outdoor location at a 2m distance.

“For more than 50 years now, the Papuan people have not had the space to talk about their identity. As a democratic country, Indonesia should ensure public space to discuss diversity. Threats and intimidations should have no space in a country that has overcome authoritarian rule,” said Markus Haluk, a civil society leader.

Organisers fear that an intensification of the unspoken threat of action by the security forces may escalate the situation and result in many persons being injured or even killed by the ensuing violence.

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