UK Embassy denies fake journalism in Bintang Papua article

West Papua Media EXCLUSIVE

December 18, 2012

An article – “UK ambassador visits Papua to counteract ‘false information’ spread by ‘certain groups’ in London” – that appeared in the usually accurate Bintang Papua outlet on December 14, contained much false reporting in the original Bahasa Indonesia version, according to both Papuan journalists and the spokesperson for the British Embassy in Jakarta.

The Bintang Papua article, written by journalist Makawaru Da Cunha, who uses only his initial “MDC,” reported that “The British Embassy to Indonesia has described the situation in Papua as ‘very peaceful and conducive’. It is quite different from the information being disseminated by certain groups to the British London”.

However, according to the British embassy in Jakarta today, this statement was not made, nor was the staff officer identified in the article, Millie McDevitt, able to speak with the press.

West Papua Media has been in extensive contact today with the Media Unit at the UK Embassy in Jakarta to establish the veracity or otherwise of this reporting.  A spokesperson for the UK Embassy in Jakarta told West Papua Media exclusively on Tuesday night:

“Mrs Millie McDevitt, political officer at the British Embassy, visited Papua last week as part of the British Embassy’s regular programme of Provincial visits. While there, she met a range of political and security representatives as well as the NGO and religious communities.

This follows on from the Ambassador’s own visit to Papua in September, when he wasted no opportunity with government, local government, military and police interlocutors to emphasise our hope that Papua will soon enjoy the same peace and prosperity as other parts of Indonesia.”

The spokesperson also said that the article “was littered with inaccuracies”.

Sources for West Papua Media who declined to be identified have claimed that the article, appearing in an outlet that is usually known for accurate reportage, was allegedly written by an Indonesian journalist in the pay of the Indonesian police.  West Papua Media has not yet been able to check the veracity of this particular claim, however there has been extensive prior reporting on the involvement and interference of Indonesian security and intelligence agencies in newsrooms in West Papua.

Numerous Papuan journalists today have raised concerns that this level of misreporting could significantly harm relations between the UK and Papuan people.

West Papua Media

More to come on this story

Original Bintang Papua Article:

Bintang Papua, 14 December 2012 The British Embassy to Indonesia has described the situation in Papua as ‘very peaceful and conducive’. It is quite different from the information being disseminated by certain groups to the British London, she said .

The Special Staff of the British Embassy’s political section, Millie McDevit made these comments during a visit to the chief of police in Jayapura, Police Inspector-General Tito Karnavian on 13 December.  Mrs McDevit said that she had made a special visit to the chief of police in order to get confirmation directly from him about information being spread by certain groups who allege that the situation in  Papua is far from peaceful.

She went on to say that such information was being spread every time Papuans suffered discrimination by the Indonesian government, especially by the TNI – the army – and Polri, the police force. She said that after  visiting a number of places especially in Jayapura, she could see that things were very different indeed from what is being conveyed to the British government.

‘It is nothing like what I expected to find when I first set foot in Papua,’ she said. ‘When people visit Northern Ireland, you can be questioned anywhere, but in Papua you can go out late at night without being disturbed in any way.’

She said that security and development are proceeding very well in Papua and she expressed support for what the police in Papua are doing to combat corruption because combating corruption is the best way to improve people’s welfare.

The police chief Tito Karnavian said that they had provided plenty of information to the Special Staff of the British Embassy’s political section in order to contradict all the negative information being spread about the situation in Papua. ‘She decided to come to Papua to check the information,’ he said.

Karnavian also said that they had asked the British government to provide the police in Papua with special equipment to check people’s DNA.  At present, the police have to identify people involved in violence  and shootings by checking the evidence outside Papua. ‘If we have the equipment to check people’s DNA, this will help to enhance the ‘supremacy of law’ here in Papua,; he said.

[Translated by TAPOL, corrected through WPM translators]

British taxpayers money used to sponsor degree course attended by members of TNI

A letter sent from the UK Foreign Office to human rights group Tapol has revealed that British taxpayers money is being used to sponsor a Master’s degree course in Defence and Security Management, attended by members of the TNI. This revelation comes hot on the heels of footage showing TNI members attacking villagers in West Papua, amid reports of widespread abuse by them in the province.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office
South East Asia Pacific Team
King Charles Street London SW1A 2AH
1 November 2010
Dear Mrs Budiardjo,
Thank you for your letter of 19 October to the Foreign Secretary about Papua. We are aware of the incident referred to in your letter and have seen some excerpts of the video footage.

We immediately raised our concerns about this case with the Indonesian authorities, in London with Ambassador Thamrin and in Jakarta with the President’s Foreign Policy Adviser. We have expressed our hope that there would be a full and transparent investigation into the incident and that those responsible would be held accountable.
We have encouraged the Indonesian Government to respond constructively to allegations of human rights abuses, and welcome the Indonesian military’s admission of wrongdoing in this case. We hope that details of the investigation will be made available to the international community.
We continue to stress to the Government of Indonesia that if there is credible evidence of wrongdoing, it should be investigated and those responsible brought to justice.
We believe that the best way to encourage further progress within the Indonesian armed forces is through constructive engagement and the delivery of appropriate training. This has included regular Indonesian placements on MOD flagship courses (e.g. Royal College of Defence Studies, Advanced Command and Staff College), regional training focused on Peace Support Operations and maritime/border security, including an annual Exclusive Economic Zone monitoring course, ship visits and senior level engagement.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) sponsors a Master’s degree course in Defence and Security Management, delivered by Cranfield University, at the Defence University in Jakarta. This course has been very successful over the last 4 years and many of the students are from members of the TNI. The MoD also supports development of the TNI in human rights by offering training in the Law of Armed Conflict.
Yours sincerely
N Atmore
Indonesia Desk Sout East Asia Pacific Group

TAPOL calls for Papua torture enquiry

Open letter to the UK Foreign Secretary:

19 October 2010

The Right Hon. William Hague, MP
Foreign Secretary,
Foreign and Commonwealth Office,
King Charles Street,
London SW1A 1AA

Dear Mr. Hague,

We have just learnt of an incident involving two Papuan men who were
reportedly subjected to very serious acts of torture while being
interrogated in the region of Puncak Jaya in West Papua by two or
more men who appear to be members of the Indonesian security forces.

The incident, which appears to have occurred earlier this year, was
recorded on a mobile phone by an individual who was on the spot and
circulated widely on YouTube four days ago.  The video has since been
removed by YouTube, according to yesterday's issue of The Jakarta
Post, 'because of its shocking and disgusting content'.

Monday's edition of The Sydney Morning Herald, which reported the
incident at length after having obtained a copy, describes one of the
men under interrogation as having been stripped naked and bound, with
one of the interrogators placing his foot on the man's chest, while a
colleague administers the torture with a stick that has been
burnt  and is smoldering, causing the man to scream in agony.

This incident is clearly a grave violation of  the Convention against
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
which Indonesia signed in 1985 and subsequently ratified in 1988.

In view of the extreme seriousness of this incident and the light it
sheds on alleged actions by members of the Indonesian security
forces, TAPOL urges the British Government to make immediate
representations to the Indonesian Government for an investigation to
be conducted by independent experts in order to verify the accuracy
of this report.

We in TAPOL are well aware that the British embassy in Jakarta
regularly follows the situation in West Papua which means that our
Government is well placed to seek the cooperation of the Indonesian
authorities in matters of this nature.

We believe that action by our Government is bound to be taken
seriously by the Indonesian Government and will impress upon them the
need to conduct an immediate investigation. If the incident is
confirmed, the men responsible for these acts of torture should be
called to account and should be severely punished.

Finally we urge the UK Government to suspend all forms of military
cooperation with the Indonesian security forces until there is full
accountability for this incident.  We would be grateful if you could
let us know the current extent of such cooperation and the action you
propose to take.

Yours sincerely

Carmel Budiardjo

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