Journalists and foreign NGOs banned from visiting Papua

JUBI, 22nd April 2012

During the course of 2010 – 2011, the Indonesian Government has restricted the number of foreign journalists who are given access to enter Papua and report on the situation there.  As well as journalists, a number of foreign NGOs have been prevented from functioning in West Papua.

All this was said in a report issued by the Faith-Based Network on West Papua, Franciscan International, Papua Land of Peace and the Asian Human Rights Commission which was launched at the P3W Aula in Padang Bulan on 21 April. The report states that in January 2011, Peace Brigades International (PBI) closed its operations in Papua and left Indonesia.

After working in the province for six years,  the lack of legality for its work and visa problems were among the factors that made it impossible for the PBI to offer protection for human rights defenders who were under threat. Two years earlier, in 2008, the International Committee of the Red Cross was ordered by the Indonesian Government to close its offices in Papua and Aceh..

The report also states that even though some foreign journalists were granted permits to vist many parts of Indonesia, access to Papua was restricted. Journalists who were granted access were followed and restricted in their activities. In May, 2010, the French journalist Baudouin Koenig was arrested by the Indonesian police because he was taking photos of a peaceful demonstration in the city of Jayapura. even though he was in possession of a journalist’s visa that permitted him to write  reports about all parts of Indonesia, including the provinces of Papua and West Papua.

Kristina Naubauer, the co-ordinator of the Faith-Based Network on Papua, said that up to this day, the world at large knows nothing about Papua because the Indonesian Government refuses to grant access to foreign journalists, to human rights activists and to other observers from outside Indonesia.

‘Up to this day, when we people from outside Indonesia give talks about Papua, no-one knows anything about Papua. People ask us, ‘Where is Papua?’  she said during the launch of the report about human rights in Papua in 2010 – 2011.

[Translated by TAPOL]

Kimanus Wenda’s tumour operation
22 March 2012

[Translated by TAPOL] 

Papuan detainee Kimanus Wenda being examined by the doctor at Dian Harapan Hospital in Waena, Jayapura. ©Peneas Lokbere

KIMANUS WENDA, a prisoner usually detained in Nabire prison had an operation to remove a tumour from his stomach at Dian Harapan Hospital, Waena Jayapura on 14 March 2012.  Wenda is detained for treason (makar) and is serving a 20 year prison sentence.

According to Peneas Lokbere from United for Truth (Bersatu Untuk Kebenaran), an organisation which provides support for political prisoners in Papua, the operation began at 10:00 and lasted for two hours.

“After the operation he was transferred to the inpatient ward. The procedure went well without any obstacles,” said Lokbere.  A growth and a hernia were operated on, and he was given six stitches.

Wenda was hospitalised until Saturday 17 March 2012. On Satuday, Dr Trajanus Lauretius said that Kimanus could go “home” to the jail in Abepura, but that every Tuesday he needs a check-up at the Dian Harapan Hospital.

Lokbere took Wenda to Abepura jail on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday Lokbere came back to bring his medication.   According to Lokbere, Kimanus Wenda said that two staff from the jail came into his cell.  All his belongings – including his clothes and medicines – were turned upside down with no clear reason.  He was offended by being treated in such an impolite manner while he was just recovering from an operation.

Kimanus Wenda is actually listed as a prisoner at Nabire jail.  However he cannot return to Nabire at present because he needs to recover properly first and have the stitches removed from his stomach.

According to the Asian Human Rights Commission, Kimanus Wenda started
to complain of feeling ill in 2010, and was vomiting frequently.  The doctor at Nabire prison examined him and said that he needed to be examined in Jayapura.   However, the Ministry for Justice and Human Rights said that they could not pay for an operation in Jayapura.  They claimed they didn’t have the money to cover the costs of the operation.

An official of Nabire jail disagreed that Wenda was ill.  The proof?  Kimanus Wenda could still play volleyball in the prison field in Nabire.  His obstructive behaviour prompted Peneas Lokbere to gather funds for Wenda’s operation. Various non-governmental organisations have contributed to the cost of the journey, transfer between the Nabire and Abepura prisons, and the medication for Kimanus Wenda.

According to the Facebook page of TAPOL, an organisation which provides support for political prisoners, their internet fundraising campaign using the website raised £2,000, [which included £1,040 in direct donations and an anonymous private donation of £1,000 – TAPOL]. They channelled the funds through Peneas Lokbere and friends in Jayapura.

At present, Lokbere is monitoring Kimanus Wenda’s recovery in Abepura prison.  Once he recovers and the stitches are out, Wenda will return to Nabire prison.  According to Indonesian law, the Indonesian government is responsible for providing prisoners with healthcare.

However, the problem of budgets is often used by the Ministry for Justice and Human Rights as an excuse for not complying with this regulation.

Ironically, the Indonesian government has also banned the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) from working in Papua since March 2009, despite the fact that ICRC often helps the families of prisoners to visit the detainees.  The ICRC also usually gives support for medication for prisoners, no matter who they are.

Peneas Lokbere and TAPOL are now collecting funds for an operation for Jefrai Murib who is currently in Biak prison.   Jefrai Murib is suspected of having suffered a stroke on 19 December 2011.  The left side of his body and his left arm and leg have lost all sensation. Murib has been examined at the Biak General Hospital, where the doctor’s diagnosis was that he needs to be examined at the General Hospital in Jayapura.

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