Tag Archives: New media activism

Activists threatened with twenty years jail for organising a nonviolent march about media freedom in West Papua

by Alex Rayfield

28 September 2012

Two West Papuan activists currently in police detention in Yapen Island in West Papua are being threatened with twenty years jail by the Indonesian police for organising a nonviolent march in support of the United Nations International Day of Indigenous People which this year celebrated the role of indigenous media.

Edison Kendi (37 years) and Yan Piet Maniamboy (35 years) from the pro-independence group West Papua National Authority were arrested by Indonesian police on 9August 2012.

The activists were leading a march of approximately 350 people in support of the International Day for Indigenous People. Police used force to break up the march. According to witnesses they beat up several Papuans and repeatedly discharged their weapons into the air. Sixteen people were arrested at the scene and a laptop, hard disk, modem, digital camera, documents and three Morning Star flags were later seized by police.

Banner at freedom of expression rally rejecting Indonesian rule in Papua on the International Day for Indigenous People. Photo via Alex Rayfield from West Papua Media stringers in Yapen.

Those arrested were subsequently released except for Edison Kendi and Yan Piet Maniamboy who remained in police custody. A local stringer told West Papua Media and New Matilda that Indonesian police investigators Sudjadi Waluyo and Arip Marinto have charged the two men with rebellion (makar) under section 155 of the Indonesian Criminal Code. Both defendants have been told that the police will seek jail sentences of 20 years each.

The controversial charge of makar has come under intense criticism from Papuan lawyers Yan Christian Warinusy from the Legal Aid Institute in Manokwari and Gustaf Kawer and Olga Hamadi from the Commission for the Disappeared (Kontras Papua). The lawyer argues that the charge of makar has been used as a tool of political repression to deny nonviolent activists their right to free speech. The law actually dates back to Dutch times and was used extensively by the former dictator to repress dissent in Indonesia. Suharto was overthrown by a nonviolent student movement in May 1998 but the law has remained on the statute books. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also called for the makar provisions to be struck from the criminal code and all political pisoners in Papua to be released.

The WPNA march was organised to commemorate the International Day of Indigenous Peoples. Ironically the United Nations theme for this year was to celebrate indigenous media. Yapen is extremely isolated. International media is banned in West Papua and local media is censored. So the very fact that story got out in the first place is testimony to the growing power and skill of indigenous media activists in West Papua.

Kendi and Maniamboy told New Matilda and West Papua Media by text message from their jail cell that they want the international community to help them. “We don’t want Autonomy or to remain with Indonesia. We want to be free! Don’t continue to let us be killed and thrown in jails” they said. WPNA media activist and Governor of Jayapura (under WPNA’s parallel political structure), Marthen Manggaprouw said his organisation wants the Indonesian government to negotiate with the independence movement to resolve the conflict. “The basic rights of indigenous Papuans are not respected in West Papua. There is no democratic space for us Papuans. We are criminalised simply for expressing our opinion” said Manggaprouw.

The men number amongst some 100 West Papuan political prisoners currently languishing in Indonesian jails. Although the Indonesian constitution technically guarantees freedom of speech in reality basic rights are routinely denied to the indigenous Papuan population. Papuans calling for genuine political freedoms are vigorously repressed by Indonesian police and military.

This is the original article to one which appeared in New Matilda

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

SMH: A Worm Inside the New Indonesia

FYI – Media Information

[With reflections on West Papuan situation.]

The Sydney Morning Herald
February 26, 2011

A Worm Inside the New Indonesia

by HAMISH McDONALD

WITH popular uprisings turfing out rulers in Tunisia, Egypt and perhaps elsewhere in the Arab world, a lot of analysts have focused on fears of ”contagion” in other regions, notably on China’s censorship of news reports about the protest wave in the Middle East.

Yet the Middle East event that might have the most far-reaching effect is not the awakening of the Arab ”street” against authoritarian rulers, but the vote in a United Nations supervised referendum a month earlier.

The largely African people in the south of Sudan voted overwhelming to secede from their Arab-dominated country and form a new nation – a result accepted by the Khartoum government and its main foreign backers, including China.

This has followed the declaration of independence from Serbia by Kosovo in 2008 that was accepted by most of the world and approved by the International Court of Justice, and Russia’s unilateral recognition of Georgia’s South Ossetia and Abkhazia as sovereign states soon afterwards in retaliation. It has left respect for the ”territorial integrity” of states and post-colonial boundaries somewhat tattered.

Already the example is being applied to an intractable issue right on Australia’s border and forming the touchiest part of what many see as our most important foreign relationship – the question of West Papua, the western half of New Guinea now part of Indonesia.

As Akihisa Matsuno, a professor at Osaka University, pointed out this week in a conference at Sydney University’s Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, South Sudan and Kosovo take West Papua out of the usual context of debate about the rights and wrongs of its decolonisation from Dutch rule in 1962 and ”act of free choice” under Indonesian control in 1969.

Kosovo’s independence was a case of ”remedial secession”: no states claimed the Kosovars had a right to self-determination, there was just no prospect of its peaceful reintegration back into Serbia or the rump Yugoslavia. Protection of people in Kosovo had more weight than Serbia’s territorial integrity.

Sudan became independent in 1956 from British rule, but has been in civil war most of the time since, with a 2005 peace agreement finally conceding a referendum. This suggests lack of integration between territories ruled by the same colonial power can justify a separate state, Matsuno said. ”This means that colonial boundaries are not as absolute as usually assumed.”

Indonesia itself went down this path in 1999 by insisting, for its domestic political reasons, that East Timor’s vote in 1999 was not a delayed act of self-determination that should have been taken just after the Portuguese left in 1975, but a ”popular consultation” with the result put into effect by Indonesia’s legislature. This amounted to conceding a right of secession to its provinces, Matsuno said.

West Papua’s act of free choice was seen as a farce from the beginning. As the historians Pieter Drooglever in Holland and John Saltford in Britain have documented, monitors were kicked out of the territory by the Indonesians in the seven-year interval between the Dutch departure and the ”act” – which was a unanimous public vote by an assembly of 1022 handpicked, bribed and intimidated Papuans in favour of integration with Indonesia.

Revolt has simmered and broken out sporadically ever since. Canberra’s relations with Jakarta went into crisis in 2006 when 43 Papuan independence activists and family members crossed the Torres Strait by motor canoe and requested political asylum.

Richard Chauvel, an Indonesia scholar at Melbourne’s Victoria University, told the conference Jakarta feels Papuan independence is not seen as the threat it was a decade ago when a ”Papuan spring” of breakaway sentiment and protest followed East Timor’s departure. The territory has been broken into two provinces so far, and numerous district governments, Papuan separatists fragmented, and no state bar Vanuatu is questioning Indonesian sovereignty (though the US Congress last September held its first committee hearing on West Papua).

Yet Chauvel says West Papua has become an ”Achilles’ heel” for a democratising Indonesia over the last 10 years. ”Papua is Indonesia’s last and most intractable regional conflict,” he said. ”Papua has become a battleground between a ‘new’ and an ‘old’ Indonesia. The ‘old’ Indonesia considers that its soldiers torturing fellow Indonesians in a most barbaric manner is an ‘incident’. The ‘new’ Indonesia aspires to the ideals of its founders in working towards becoming a progressive,
outward-looking, cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic and multi-faith society.”

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called the recently reported
torture cases ”incidents” by low-level soldiers, not the result of high-up instructions. Chauvel says he is probably correct: ”A more likely explanation is that instructions were not necessary. These acts reflected a deeply ingrained institutional culture of violence in the way members of the security forces interact with Papuans.”

Matsuno argues that South Sudan makes Indonesia’s post-colonial claim to West Papua more shaky, since it too had racial, religious and other differences to the rest of the country and had been administered separately within the former Netherlands East Indies. A ”more moral question” behind self-determination is coming to the fore, he said, the factor of ”failure” in governing.

The Japanese scholar sees echoes of East Timor in the late 1980s, when even foreign policy ”realists” started recognising the failure of Indonesian rule on the ground: serious human rights abuses, foreign media shut out, migrants flooding in, local leaders turning away from government, a younger generation educated in the Indonesian system refusing to identify themselves as Indonesians.

”These young people were increasingly vocal and continued to expose the ‘unsustainability’ of the system,” Matsuno said. ”Indeed the unsustainability of the situation in West Papua seems to be a truth. Only it takes some more time for the world to realise the truth.”

No one expects any outside power to intervene. But as we are seeing in the Arab despotisms, the new media make it harder and harder to draw a veil over suppression. In the Indonesia that is opening up, the exception of West Papua will become more glaring.