Tag Archives: journalist harassment

RSF: Indonesian president fails to keep media freedom pledges in first year

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Reporters Without Borders is very disappointed by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s performance as regards freedom of information and media freedom during his first year in office.

Despite the democratic hopes raised by his election, Joko Widodo’s presidency is far from meeting expectations with regard to access to information,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk.

The authorities continue to suppress information and Jokowi’s campaign pledge to open up the West Papua region to foreign journalists was just an illusion. If journalists can go there – under certain conditions – they are closely watched, exposing their sources to reprisals by the authorities.

The former governor of Jakarta, Jokowi began his term well. His inauguration on 20 October 2014 was followed a few days later by the release of French journalists Valentine Bourrat and Thomas Dandois.

Bourrat and Dandois had fallen victim to Indonesia’s restrictive practices in West Papua (the western half of the island of New Guinea) and were sentenced to two and a half months in prison for violating Indonesia’s draconian immigration laws by doing a report there after entering the country on tourist visas.

Their fixer, Areki Wanimbo, was only released after being held for eight months.

Ever since annexing the West Papua region in 1963, the Indonesia authorities have restricted access for foreign journalists because of acts of violence against civilians and the government’s crackdown on the separatist movements operating there. The few journalists managing to visit the region, which is an information “black hole,” have been closely watched.

On 10 May, Jokowi announced the lifting of the ban on foreign journalists going to the West Papua region. The opening of Indonesia’s most secret region to journalists was one of the campaign promises made by Jokowi, who even told journalists that “there’s nothing to hide”.

The decision allowed New Zealand’s Maori TV to do a report on the ethnic Papuan community for its “Native Affairs” programme. This was the first report of this kind in more than 50 years.

But there is no guarantee of lasting access to information in the region. Certain army factions that have profited from Indonesia’s occupation are expected to continue to oppose media coverage. It is also highly unlikely that the authorities will let journalists investigate all the human rights violations that have taken place since annexation.

Jokowi’s announcement – made while Indonesia was in the international spotlight following the death sentences pass on seven foreigners for drug trafficking – has all the hallmarks of a smokescreen designed to fob off international public opinion and add some temporary gloss to Indonesia’s image.

While foreign reporters are no longer openly targeted in the West Papua region, the authorities still have their fixers and sources in their sights. Two fixers working for a French journalist were arrested and questioned by the police at the start of this month.

The authorities also restrict the freedom of local journalists. Abeth You, a reporter for the TabloidJubi.com website, was attacked by police on 8 October while covering a demonstration in Jayapura, the West Papua region’s biggest city. It was organized by Solidarity for Victims of Human Rights Violations in Papua.

After the police bundled You into a truck, an officer seized his camera and deleted all his photos – all the while threatening him with his gun. Even when they have press cards, local journalists covering demonstrations continue to be treated by the police as demonstrators.

Coverage of certain sensitive subjects also continues to be closely controlled in the rest of Indonesia. British journalists Rebecca Prosser and Neil Bonner are still awaiting a verdict in their trial after being arrested for reportedly filming a reenaction of pirates attacking an oil tanker in the Malacca Strait, near Singapore.

Rear Admiral Taufiqurrahman said shortly after their arrest that “what they were reenacting (…) could tarnish the image of the Malacca Strait as a crime-prone area.” The two journalists have been held since May under Indonesia’s immigration laws.

In a couple of months, we will know whether Jokowi’s presidency has caused Indonesia to fall in the 2016 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

Benjamin Ismaïl

Head of Asia Desk
Reporters Without Borders

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

WestPapuaMedia Editorial / Urgent Safety Briefing

May 11, 2015

WestPapuaMedia is greatly concerned that the statements made on May 9 by Indonesian President Joko (Jokowi) Widodo in Jayapura regarding the ending of the foreign media ban for journalists to visit West Papua, is not being given due diligence by foreign media, and reminds all foreign media workers that West Papua is and still remains an incredibly dangerous place for journalists to report, and present an even greater threat to the safety of all journalism sources.

A full analysis of the actuality of the so-called “lifting” of the foreign media ban in West Papua will be released by West Papua Media’s team in the coming days, including analysis from our clandestine journalists who operate daily in the reality of the Papuan media environment, under threat constantly from Indonesian security forces.

This statement was made in the context of travelling the following day to Papua New Guinea, in bid to quash Melanesian support for West Papuan aspirations for self-determination, specifically the West Papuan bid to be granted observer status at the upcoming Melanesian Spearhead Group meetings

Despite Jokowi’s graceful and well executed “Juru Bicara” (Straight Talking) image, the reality on the ground in West Papua is that he has little control over the actions of security forces.  In west Papua.  Journalists, media workers, fixers and sources are routinely denied access, harassed, surveilled physically and electronically,, threatened, arrested, monstered, beaten, disappeared and even murdered by all the various organs of Indonesian colonial control in West Papua, with a list of perpetrators including (but not limited to) Police, Australian Trained Detachment 88 anti-terror commandos, military, National Intelligence Body (BIN), military intelligence, police intelligence, Kopassus special forces, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, forestry officials, customs, immigration, mining officials, Indonesian bureaucrats, pro-Jakarta transmigrant militias, and the ever-present Ojek (motorbike taxi) riders / intelligence officers.

The media freedom status in West Papua reached its lowest point in 2011, due to a series of murders, stabbings and disappearances of journalists across West Papua  This situation that prompted Reporters Without Borders to rank Indonesia at 146 out of 180 in the World Press Freedom Index, only climbing to 139th place for 2014, due to international monitoring led by West Papua Media and our network partners in West Papua.

This lifting of the foreign media ban is completely without power or credibility until both a formal Presidential Instruction is made, together with a national law is passed and enforced that penalizes anyone who prevents free, full and unfettered access for ALL media workers in Papua.

Jokowi’s real attitude is telling however.  Just a few hours later in Merauke, he was quoted in Antara with his real attitude to “media freedom” in West Papua. “Don’t ask that question, that’s enough,” Antara quoted Jokowi saying when he was asked about a fact that usually foreign journalists prefer to cover activities of illegal armed groups.

Operating in West Papua for journalists will remain an extremely dangerous activity.  Even though it is unlikely a foreign journalist will be physically harmed it is not unknown.  Foreign journalists have been beaten, poisoned, interrogated, and some have died in highly suspicious circumstances in the past.

However, it is journalists’ sources that are most at risk, especially if communications and data are left unsecured.  All journalists have an unbreakable ethical duty to ensure the safety of sources, and without specific technologies used.  West Papua Media has a suite of digital and practical technologies developed from our Safe Witness Journalism training units, and we also can provide secure handsets for journalists travelling to West Papua.

West Papua Media also can provide an unparalleled secure fixing service that ensures foreign journalists are fully briefed to the security situation in all parts of Papua, and to be able to report without putting any sources at risk.

Last August, one person died, many went into hiding, and 5 were arrested due to unsecured data, notes, emails and phone calls allegedly held by the two French journalists arrested in Wamena in August, against the express guarantees on source security given to West Papua Media.

Only journalists can prevent their sources being put in danger.  Make no mistake, Indonesian occupation forces will harm journalists’ sources and journalists seeking to report on human rights abuses and violations of freedom of expression.  We suggest all journalists seeking to report on Papua read our Source Protection Policy for more information, and contact us to arrange training for full data and communications security for mobile journalism.  WPM also offers the ONLY civil resistance coverage media safety training available, which we can arrange for a  reasonable cost.

However, WPM remains sceptical on the latest claims of lifting the foreign media ban.  There have been too many previous claims that this will end, including several by Jokowi himself. Let’s wait and see how and if the security forces even listen to their president.

There are some minimum tests that will prove if the media ban is lifted in Papua:

  • Will the most outspoken foreign journalists be allowed to report from West Papua with full media freedom and access?
  • A large number of Independent and Mainstream Journalists who have previously reported inside West Papua have been threatened and banned from WP by security forces – will our bans be lifted?
  • Journalists who seek to report on topics opposed by government or security forces must be allowed full and free access without let, danger or hindrance from security forces.
  • One of the WPM editors still have outstanding arrest warrants on Makar (Treason and Subversion), Destabilisation and Espionage charges for Legitimate journalism activities – charges that need to be rescinded immediately;
  • the assassination threats on all sources and journalists, including WPM staff, need to be ended, and those making them arrested;
  • all DPO (Daftar Pencarian Orang – or Wanted Persons list) listings on all media workers in Papua must be cancelled;
  • all journalists must be allowed free and unfettered access across Papua and West Papua without intelligence agencies, police or military harassment, surveillance (physical or electronic) or intimidation of journalists, witnesses, sources, fixers and assistants or their families;
  • and of course, free and unfettered access to ALL areas of Papua, including mining, forestry and resource extraction areas, prisons, and military operations areas .

To reiterate, until these minimum conditions are guaranteed by an actual InPres (Presidential Instruction) in law, with penalties enforced for any official that prevents or ignores it, then this is just an utterance.

Nevertheless, Jokowi did say it, he was interviewed about it, and this was the statement that was made. Whether or not it is really enacted doesn’t take away from the fact that here is a clear undertaking.

Of course, letting in foreign journalists who don’t believe the hype, who are currently on charge or banned from West Papua by Indonesia will be the real test.

And making sure that the police and military answer critical questions when they kill civilians is part of that (including not hanging up on phone calls from WPM).  It is highly unlikely that the State Violence Forces are going to suddenly stop tailing and harming journalists, human rights defenders and media workers, unless they are arrested for it.

WPM will still operate with great scepticism the alleged lifting of the Foreign media Ban in West Papua, and about anything Jakarta (or any government) ever says: that is the job of journalism. WPM will still need to operate clandestinely, and we will still need support to train and supply people for safe witness journalism. Now more than ever, West Papua Media needs you support to train and supply independent clandestine journalists with the tools to safely report from the ground in West Papua.  It costs $3000 to support one journalist with secure and robust equipment for mobile newsgathering, $3000 to provide intensive Safe Witness Journalism training.  You can help by visiting this page to make a donation or longer term support.

This alleged end of the media ban is stage-managed and not at all genuine.  As far as we are concerned, the Papua Media Blackout remains firmly in place.

WestPapuaMedia Editorial

Update on Manokwari police beating of journalist Oktovianus Pogau

Statement/ Media safety briefing from Oktovianus Pogau, SuaraPapua.com

October 27, 2012

I (Oktovianus Pogau, a journalist at suarapapua.com and a freelancer for The Jakarta Globe) will report on a beating that I experienced, perpetrated by police in Manokwari, West Papua.

Journalist Oktovianus Pogau (Photo: Andreas Harsono)

On the 24th October, 2012, at around 16.00 Eastern Indonesian Time, I was accompanied by three journalists, two from Cahaya Papua (Duma Sanda and Patrick Tandilerung) and one journalist from Tabloid Noken (Jo Kelwulan) to Manokwari police station to meet with the Chief of Police for Manokwari, AKBP Agustinus Supriyanto S.Ik, as had been arranged on the evening of Tuesday (23/10) with the officer.

The Chief of Police had initially stated that he was not aware if members of the force had beat up journalists, then, when many journalists from Jakarta began to call the station inquiring about the incident, Supriyanto became adamant that there were no beatings of journalists by police.
Then, continued Supriyanto, 5-10 minutes later at around 20.00 Eastern Indonesian Time, there was a brief message from me to his phone (whereas I sent him an SMS at 13.29 WIT, 30 minutes after the beating) which stated that there had been a beating and that my neck had been strangled while I was covering an action by Komite Nasional Papua Barat (KNPB) (National West Papuan Committee) on Tuesday 23/10 in front of Kampus Universitas Negeri Papua (Unipa) (Papuan State University) which was supporting an international lawyers meeting in London.

Then, the Chief of Police conveyed himself as the supervisor and manager of all the police in Manokwari, Papua Barat, and didn’t question that the media publish (when shown the news headlines in Cahaya Papua which detailed the violence perpetrated by members of the police force against me) news about the aforementioned incident.

Supriyanto said that the relationships between all journalists in West Papua, particularly in Manokwari, is really good, and because of this, he personally regrets the incident of the beating, and in fact, was surprised that a member of the force would do something like this to a journalist.

Supriyanto said that he wished to offer a personal apology for the incident. He also said that there was also a possibility that the incident occurred because the police didn’t realise I was a journalist, and that they were also carried away with the emotion of the moment.

Because of this, the Chief of Police firmly requested that I identify the men responsible for the incident so they could be subject to due legal processes, as in line with my request.

However, Supriyanto also suggested that the case didn’t have to be resolved amicably, that is, to be resolved by making peace with the offenders. According to the chief of police, it could be a rather difficult process to find the offenders, as there were many members in the force, and certainly no-one would be honest, but he said again that it depended on me.

After the chief of police opened this conversation, he gave us all the chance to talk. Duma Sanda explained that there was an issue of freedom of the press, in which the work of journalists is universal, meaning, it doesn’t mean that just because I didn’t live and become a journalist in Manokwari, I didn’t have the right to cover the demonstration by KNPB.

Duma also firmly requested that the Chief of Police teach the men to respect the profession of journalism, and also to respect journalists like myself. And, to make himself clearer, Duma also requested that the Chief listen to a chronological account of the beating I experienced.

I introduced myself (officially) to the Chief of Police.  I told him about my work writing news for the paper Papua Pos Nabire and Tabloid JUBI during high school, about writing several columns in Tabloid Suara Perempuan Papua, the newspaper Bintang Papua, along with Papua Pos Nabire.  And I conveyed to him that I’d also covered stories for The Jakarta Globe and that this is still continuing, and then that I established suarapapua.com as an online media outlet.

I explained to the Chief of Police in chronological order the incident of the beating (you can read my previous email). After this, I conveyed a number of important issues to the Chief of Police that have to be understood about the incident of the beating.

I said that firstly, his men had violated the article KUHP on disorder; secondly, the men had violated article UU Kebebasan Pers 1999 (UU on Freedom of the Press 1999) by preventing the work of a journalist; thirdly the UU anti-discrimination; and fourthly, Intelligence didn’t have the authority to capture let alone beat someone and certainly they violated their work code.

Because of this, I requested that the problem not be resolved amicably/peacefully, but should be followed up through a more direct process of law. I said that it was important that the police officers be aware, and law enforcement officers should be an example, that if there are officers who are at fault, then they have to be punished as criminals so that the public can know.

Oktovianus Pogau

Okto Pogau: Police beating of journalist in Manokwari

Statement by Oktovianus Pogau

SuaraPapua.com

October 23, 2012
I’m going to describe the beating I (Oktovianus Pogau, Journalist) http://www.suarapapua.com experienced by the Manokwari district police in front of Papua State University campus in Manokwari, West Papua, on the afternoon of Tuesday 23rd October.

At about 10.00 am Eastern Indonesian Time I arrived at the place of the incident, in front of the Papua State University campus. I saw around 300 armed officers holding/restraining a crowd of 300 people. The crowd was planning on marching to Lapangan Borarsi, Manokwari. There were three trucks blocking the road, and also 1 TNI (military) truck with dozens of personnel.

There were negotiations between the police and the crowd. Police requested the crowd express their opinion there, on the main road, in front of the campus. The crowd insisted on continuing to Lapangan Borarsi. There was some commotion, then the crowd yielded and didn’t continue to Lapangan Borarsi (except) for a few people who continued there to wait for another crowd of demonstrators to arrive.

At about 10.40 am Eastern Indonesian Time, a police officer neared the crowd and took a photo. The crowd didn’t accept this, and moved nearer to the police and requested that they not take photos so close. Then, several people from the crowd spontaneously threw rocks in the direction of the officers, and from here, the officers responded brutally. Hundreds of people dispersed and the officers loosed thousands of shots in front of the campus Uncen. 11 people were arrested. 2 people suffered from gunshot wounds.

At this time I wasn’t far from where this was happening. I was trying to take footage and photos. A plain-clothed police officer approached me and told me to leave the area in a rude tone. I told him I was a journalist and carried a press card. He demanded I show him my card. I found my wallet so I could show him my card but suddenly a police officer in full uniform turned up. The officer strangled my neck and threatened me, so that I’d leave to the action. I resisted and said I was a journalist, then three more officers in uniform came and barked at me, ‘Where’s your press card . . . where’s your press card.’ I moved to look for it, but one of the police threw punches at my face and lips.
At this time my neck was aching from the strangulation by the officer and my lip was swollen and bleeding. Then several of my journalist friends came and stopped them and said I was a journalist, and only then did they release me.

 

End the violence against Papuan journalists: Oktovianus Pogau

A statement issued by Pantau Foundation and Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)

 

Jakarta (23 October 2012):- Police today attacked a journalist covering a rally organised by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) in Manokwari in West Papua. Oktovianus Pogau, a reporter with Suara Papua and a contributor to the Yayasan Pantau, was beaten by five policemen while trying to take pictures of police use of excessive violence against the KNPB demonstrators in front of the State University of Papua, Manokwari. Pogau had displayed his press card, but some police did not stop the beating. He sustained injuries to his face.

 

The security forces had attempted to stop the rally but the KNPB activists went on with the demonstrations.

 

In Jayapura, police dispersed thousands of demonstrators using the water cannon and tear gas. In Manokwari, five people were reportedly shot but it is still not clear their conditions.

 

In 2011, two journalists were killed in Papua, eight were kidnapped and 18 attacked. Foreign journalists are required to apply for special permits to enter and cover stories in Papua since Indonesia took over the administration of West Papua in 1963. Only three news organizations, including BBC, obtained the permits last year.

 

Pantau Foundation and the Southeast Asian Press Alliance condemn the attacks against the media, especially in Papua where activists, human rights defenders and journalists are frequently targeted for their work. Since October, two veteran human rights defenders, respectively from Wamena and Jayapura, have moved out of Papua due to serious threats against them. 

 

We call on the police to:

 

1. Respect the rights of citizens to freedom of expression;

 

2. Ensure the safety of Oktovianus Pugao;

 

3. Stop all forms of violence against journalists;

 

4. Arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of violence.

 

 

 

We also call on the Indonesian government to:

 

1.    Open up Papua to international journalists and human rights monitors; and

2.    Guarantee the rights of all journalists working in West Papua  to ensure they can work free of violence, hindrance or intimidation from any members of the security forces