Tag Archives: Merauke TV

AHRC: Killing of a journalist in Papua explained as suicide by local police

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-128-2010

8 September 2010
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INDONESIA: Killing of a journalist in Papua explained as suicide by local police

ISSUES: Human rights defenders; freedom of expression; extrajudicial killings
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission has been informed about the killing of a journalist and human rights defender in Merauke, Papua, Indonesia. Mr. Ardiansyah Matra’is (25 years old) was found dead on July 30, 2010 floating naked in the Maro River after he disappeared two days previously. Several journalists received intimidating SMS (short message service) in the weeks before the killing. Unofficial police reports have indicated that his ribs were broken and his lungs filled with water.

CASE NARRATIVE: (according to information received from Foker LSM – NGO Forum for Coorperation in Papua)

In the late evening of July 28, 2010 Mr. Matra’is was reported missing after his wife had not seen him returning home all day. After the police was informed, a special team searched for him for two days. They had only found his helmet and motorbike parked near the Waliwali Tujuh Bridge on the Maro River. At 7 am on July 30, 2010, fishermen found his naked corpse floating near the Dermaga Gudang Arang Warehouse, Merauke. (warning: this image is graphic in detail. Photo of Mr. Matra’is body as it was found in the river). The body was brought to the hospital and identified by his family. The first formal autopsy result did not acknowledge any signs of violence while according to an informal notice from the District Police the lungs were filled with water and two ribs were broken which indicates the use of physical violence. The regional police announced the conduct of a second autopsy at a different location, to which several of Mr. Matra’is organs were sent.

The bridge where Mr. Matra’is motorbike was found is a popular place where locals frequently go for recreation to enjoy the scenery. Mr. Matra’is was known to have often visited for taking photos near the bridge where his motorbike was found. The Police chief of Merauke, Djoko AKBP Prihadi SH concluded this case to be a suicide based on interviews with the victim’s family and colleagues and the evidence on the bridge and the first autopsy report by the local district hospital. According to the police the suicide would have been committed as a result of the stress that he must have experienced from the daily work as a journalist.

(photos’ source: http://kebebasan-kebebasancom.blogspot.com)

Journalist work and intimidation

(according to information received from the local journalists community)

Mr. Matra’is had been working as a journalist for several years including for the national private TV channel ANTV. He joined http://www.tabloidjubi.com, a Papuan civil society media in May 2009. After he published a video about illegal timber mining in Keerom, several journalists received intimidating messages. Following the increasing threats Mr. Matra’is temporarily left Jayapura, his place of work at that time. He continued to feel intimidated and often reported to have been followed by unidentified persons. Colleagues reported that he had received SMS threatening the security of his children. Months later Mr. Matra’is worked with a local TV station in Merauke.

Journalists are reported to have frequently received threats in the period before Mr. Matra’is’ killing. The threats are allegedly related to local elections in which a large scale food estate project with international investors became the subject of controversy. For example, a fellow journalist received the following message, “To the coward journalists: never play with fire if you don’t want to be burned. If you still want to make a living on this land, don’t do weird things. We have data on all of you and be prepared for death.”

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write letters to the concerned authorities below requesting them to conduct a thorough investigation into the victim’s death. The intimidation against other journalists should also be investigated and pursued.

The AHRC has also written letters to the Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression for their intervention.

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

INDONESIA: Short title describing the type of violation

Name of victim: Mr. Ardiansyah Matra’is (25 years old)
Date of incident: July 28, 2010
Place of incident: Maro River, Merauke, Papua

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the death of Mr. Ardiansyah Matra’is, a journalist and human rights defender in Papua.

In the late evening of July 28, 2010 Mr. Matra’is was reported missing after his wife had not seen him returning home all day. After the police was informed, a special team searched for him for two days but only found his helmet and motorbike parked near the Waliwali Tujuh Bridge at the Maro River. At 7 am on July 30, 2010, fishermen found his naked corpse floating near the Dermaga Gudang Arang Warehouse, Merauke. The first formal autopsy result did not acknowledge any signs of violence while according to an informal notice from the District Police the lungs were filled with water and two ribs were broken which indicates the use of physical violence. The regional police announced the conduct of a second autopsy at a different location, to which several of Mr. Matra’is organs were sent.

Mr. Matra’is as well as other journalists in Merauke received intimidating messages via SMS (short message service) in recent months. Many see them related to local elections as well as other critical activities of journalist in Papua. The heavy military presence and the ongoing corruption had since been the serious obstacles for the region to sustainably develop and results in ongoing human rights violations and aggravates social tensions. The free and critical work of the media is central to the development in the region.

I request you to conduct a thorough investigation of the killing of Mr. Matra’is, as well as the intimidation against journalists in Merauke and other areas in Papua. I would like to point out that strongest action needs to be taken in accordance with law to ensure the safety of all journalists, the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression in Papua.

I am calling for your intervention into the case to ensure an independent and qualified investigation in the killing of Mr. Matra’is as well as into the intimidating climate for journalists in Merauke.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Drs.Bekto. Suprato. M.Si
Head of Police Area Headquarters Jayapura, Papua province
Jl. Samratulangi No. 8 Jayapura
INDONESIA
Tel: + 62 0967 531014
Fax: +62 0967 533763

2. Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri
Chief of National Police
Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3
Jakarta Selatan
INDONESIA
Fax: +62 21 720 7277

3. R. Widyopramono SH,M.Hum
District Attorney Papua
Kejaksaan Tinggi Papua
Jl. Anggrek No.6 Tj. Ria Jayapura
INDONESIA

4. Paulus Waterpauw
Director of the Criminal Unit
Papua Regional Police
Jl. Samratulangi
No. 8 Jayapura
INDONESIA

5. Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudoyono
President
Republic of Indonesia
Presidential Palace
Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara
Jakarta Pusat 10010
INDONESIA
Fax: + 62 21 231 41 38, 345 2685, 345 7782

6. Mr. Ifdhal Kasim
Chairperson
KOMNAS HAM (National Human Rights Commission)
Jl. Latuharhary No. 4B Menteng
Jakarta Pusat 10310
INDONESIA
Fax: +62 21 3151042/3925227

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme (ua@ahrc.asia)
Indonesia Desk (indonesia@ahrc.asia)
Asian Human Rights Commission

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News from Papua: Journalists will boycott police for failing to investigate Ardiansyah's murder; Restrictions on alcohol to combat spread of HIV; Women traders promised their own market

Bintang Papua, 23 August 2010
Abridged in translation

Ardiansyah murder repercussions

Journalists to boycott police news

About one hundred print and electronic journalists, following a
demonstration in Jayapura, announced their decision to boycott all news
from the police as from 23 August for failing to reveal the perpetrator
of the murder of Metro TV journalist, Ardiansyah Matra’is whose body was
found on 28 July floating in the Maro River.

They also called for the chief of police in Papua to be dismissed for
his failure to thoroughly investigate the journalist’s murder.

Victor Mambor, the chairman of the journalists organisation AJI, said
they had waited for hours to meet the police chief but he never appeared.

According to the results of an autopsy by the police, there were many
swellings on the journalist’s body, several teeth were missing and his
neck showed signs of his having been strangled. At the time of the
tragic incident, other journalists had been receiving terror threats by
SMS. [Other reports suggest that Ardiansyah was still alive when he was
thrown into the river where he drowned.]

During the demonstration, the journalists carried banners calling for
an end to the terror. A journalist from Tempo said it was up to the
police to investigate the case.

‘Today, our colleague is murdered. Tomorrow it could be one of us,’ he
said.

Cenderawasih reporter Ronald Manurung said: ‘We are partners of the
police. Every day we report about police activities in safeguarding
security in Papua, but the chief of police doesn’t show any interest in
the sufferings of our colleague and his grieving family.’

At this point, a police official appeared and said the demonstrators
should delegate someone to meet the chief of police but this was rejected.

Then another journalist, Cunding Levi read a joint statement setting a
deadline for the police to show results in their investigation to
discover the perpetrator of Ardiansyah’s murder. The statement will be
sent to the president and other ministers as well as the National Human
Rights Commission, whose deputy chairman Matius Murib was present. He
invited those present to bow their heads in tribute to their murdered
colleague. All sections of the community in Papua should pay close
attention to the human rights cases in Papua, he said. Thereafter, the
journalist dispersed in an orderly fashion

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Bintang Papua, 23 August 2010

Alcoholic drinks and the increase in HIV in Papua
With the number of HIV/AIDS sufferers in Papua continuing to increase,
the Papuan provincial government has announced its intention to restrict
or to stop the sale of alcoholic drinks throughout the province of
Papua. The number of sufferers in Papua reportedly reached a total of
more than 5,000 in 2009.

Provincial governor Barnabas Suebu said that during a two-month tour of
many kampungs, many people had urged the government to pay more
attention to this problem. ‘So we have now drafted a regulation to end
the sale of alcohol which will soon be submitted to the DPRP.’

The governor said that the alarming rise in the number of HIV sufferers
was a warning to Papuans that this sickness must be brought under control..

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Bintang Papua, 23 August 2010
Special market for women traders to be built

The Papuan provincial government has said that it is still committed to
the plan to build a special market for women traders. A spokesman said
that a location had been chosen and once the legalities of the
conversion of the land ere completed, construction would begin.

The spokesman Jansen Monim said this was an example of the governor’s
determination to listen to the wishes of the people.

For the past nine years, Papuan women traders have been pressing for a
special market but as yet, their demands have not been realised and they
have been pushed from one location to another, having to do their
business under the open sky and sitting on the bare ground. During th
course of their struggle, some of the women have died.

One location that was offered to the women was rejected because, they
said, it was too far away from people coming to buy things. After
submitting their demands to the governor, he has now promised that the
special market for women traders will be built in 2010. The governor
also promised to provide other facilities for the women traders. There
are also plans to provide the women with special training for marketing
management and to supply four trucks along with fuel to help transport
their goods.

It was also said that the governor’s commitment applies not only to
Jayaura but to the whole of Papua.

[Comment: The reference throughout this item was only to Papua, meaning
that this pledge does not apply to the province of West Papua. ]

Journalist's death overshadows launch of Papua food project

TAPOL and DTE press release

Journalist’s death overshadows launch of Papua food project

11 August 2010 – The death of a local journalist has increased concerns about a giant food estate launched today in Merauke, Southeastern Papua by Indonesia’s Minister of Agriculture.

TAPOL and Down to Earth, the International Campaign for Ecological Justice in Indonesia are calling for a moratorium on the food project, known as MIFEE (Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate) until independent assessments of the political, economic, socio-cultural, environmental and gender impacts of the project have been undertaken.

The suspicious death of the journalist, Ardiansyah Matra’is, in late July, following threats against him, has been linked to his coverage of this week’s local elections for the district head in Merauke.

Other journalists have also been threatened in what appears to have been a concerted campaign to stifle free expression ahead of the elections. Current district head, Johannes Gluba-Gebze, has been instrumental in planning and promoting the food project.

“The potential adverse impacts of MIFEE for the local population are massive such that full transparency and accountability are required. A free media is essential to ensuring effective democratic oversight of the project,” say TAPOL and Down to Earth who are closely monitoring the project.

“President Susilo Bambang Yudhyono’s ambition to ‘feed Indonesia then feed the world’ may come at the expense of many Papuans, and could add to wider frustrations about the lack of political, social and economic autonomy in Papua,” they add.

The project is likely to contribute to the marginalisation of indigenous Papuans by taking over the customary-owned land and resources which provide their livelihoods. It is also likely to exacerbate existing human rights grievances, and accelerate environmental deforestation and degradation.

“The enhanced security presence likely to be associated with MIFEE will increase tensions and add to the vulnerability of Merauke’s inhabitants, especially as Indonesia’s notorious Kopassus special forces are active in the area”, warn TAPOL and Down to Earth.

Background and issues
MIFEE is a collection of commercial plantations, planned to cover 1.6 million hectares. The project is being promoted as a means of stabilizing Indonesia’s food security. It has received support from the Government of Indonesia, and Merauke has been designated a national ‘Special Economic Zone’ (SEZ) in order to attract the US$8.6 billion of investment needed for the project. Over 30 investors from Indonesia, Japan, China, Singapore, Korea and the Middle East have expressed an interest in MIFEE,[1] Their involvement appears to be part of a global trend to make money by buying up lands abroad for food production.

Tens of thousands more workers and economic migrants, mostly from outside Papua, are expected to settle in Merauke and the surrounding areas. The indigenous people of Merauke have already felt the impact of transmigration programmes, first implemented under Dutch colonial rule and continued under Indonesia’s Suharto regime. Population growth, changes in population demographics and the further loss of land and resources as a result of MIFFE could have a devastating and irreversible impact on the livelihoods of the local population, especially indigenous Papuans.

The huge number of newcomers may strain Merauke’s underdeveloped services and further marginalise an already minority indigenous population. The commercialisation of land and takeover of indigenous Papuans’ land will affect the livelihoods of Papuans and could prevent the transfer of knowledge, culture and language from one generation to the next.

Sustained local knowledge of tribal boundaries, land rights, land use, customary law and taboos are all dependent on having access to land and respect for traditional rights over the land. If MIFEE goes ahead, indigenous people will be faced with new boundaries and non-traditional crops such as oil palm, rice, sugar cane, corn and soyabean.

There has been strong opposition to MIFEE from local NGOs such as SKP-KAM, FokerLSM, SORPATOM and AMAN.[2] However, the death of Ardiansyah Matra’is and campaign of terror against journalists have closed down the space for criticism. These groups have emphasised on-going concerns about targeted surveillance and intimidation of NGOs and journalists. In 2009, a joint report by the Indonesian environmental NGO Telapak and the UK’s Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) stated that ‘irregular groups allied to [Johannes Gluba] Gebze’ operate in Merauke and ‘work in unison with the state security forces to monitor and intimidate any dissenters in the region.’

The security strategy for MIFEE is unclear, as is the resulting direct and indirect impact on the local population. Merauke is located near the Indonesia-Papua New Guinea (PNG) border and is already a highly militarized area. A 2009 Human Rights Watch report details abuses committed by Kopassus, who have close ties with Gebze.

In other parts of Papua where natural resources are being exploited, state security forces are routinely employed to protect commercial assets. There has often been an expansion in these areas of the sex and alcohol industries, which are run by migrants or the police and military themselves. The potential impact on the population’s health is made clear by FokerLSM which reports that Merauke has the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases after Mimika district, where the giant mining company Freeport operates.

The scale of MIFEE raises major environmental and ecological concerns. The conversion of protected forest for agricultural use seems likely, despite both Indonesia’s Forestry Minister and the Coordinating Minister for the Economy stating otherwise.

Widespread licensed deforestation in Merauke would contradict the Government of Indonesia’s commitment to reduce green-house gas emissions by 26% by 2020. It also raises questions over a recent billion dollar REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) agreement with the Government of Norway to preserve Indonesia’s rainforests, in particular in Papua.

ENDS

Contact: Paul Barber (TAPOL) on +44 1420 80153 or +44 7747 301 739 or Carolyn Marr (DTE) on +44 16977 46266

[1] Medco Group; Artha Graha Network; PT Bangun Cipta Sarana; Comexindo International; Sumber Alam Sutra; Korindo; PT Rajawali Nusantara Indonesia; Sinar Mas; PT Kertas Nusantara; Mitsubishi (Japan); Wilmar (Singapore); LG International (Korea).
[2] Office for Justice and Peace of the Archdicese of Merauke (SKP-KAM); Papua NGOs Cooperation Forum (FokerLSM); Solidarity for Papuans (SORPATOM); The Indigenous People’s Alliance of Indonesia (AMAN)