Two French journalists who were jailed for illegal reporting in Indonesia’s eastern province of Papua landed at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport early on Tuesday.
Thomas Dandois, 40, and Valentine Bourrat, 29, were detained in August while making a documentary for Franco-German television channel Arte about the separatist movement in eastern Papua.
The pair were tried two months later in Jayapura, the capital of Papua province, on charges of breaking immigration laws since they were reporting on tourist, not journalist, visas – a crime punishable by up to five years in jail.
Indonesia is deeply sensitive about journalists covering Papua, where a low-level insurgency against the central government has simmered for decades, and rarely grants visas allowing foreigners to report in the region.
Prosecutors had sought a four-month sentence during the trial, saying the journalists had admitted their mistake and apologised.
However, a panel of judges handed them a sentence of just two months and 15 days, most of which they had already served.
Speaking soon after the verdict last week, the reporters’ lawyer Aristo Pangaribuan had welcomed their imminent release, though adding that "from a legal perspective, this is not very good because it opens the door for the criminalisation of journalistic activities."
Foreign journalists detained in the past for illegally reporting in Papua have been swiftly deported.
Indonesia's Independent Alliance of Journalists has said this is the first time that foreign journalists have been tried for immigration violations in Papua.
Andreas Harsono, a Jakarta-based researcher for Human Rights Watch, urged Indonesia to overhaul the complex system for foreign journalists to apply for visas to report on Papua.
Currently, 18 different government agencies have to approve a foreign journalist visa for Papua, he said.
"Reporters won't use tourist visas if it is fair to apply for journalist ones," he said.
Dandois was detained at a hotel in the city of Wamena with members of separatist group the Free Papua Movement and Bourrat was detained shortly afterwards, according to authorities.
The Free Papua Movement has been at the forefront of the fight against the central government in the resource-rich region, which is poor and ethnically Melanesian
A group of New Zealand protestors have questioned whether Indonesia's new President will support genuine media freedom in West Papua.
The group gathered outside Indonesia's embassy in Wellington yesterday, calling for media freedom in West Papua.
This follow's last week's conviction of two French journalists for misusing their tourist visas to work in Indonesia's Papua province.
The pair, who were arrested and detained in August, were sentenced in Jayapura to two and half months in prison.
One of the protestors, the New Zealand MP Catherine Delahunty, says Indonesia seems unprepared to open up Papua region to journalists because it has something to hide.
"Will the new President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, who claims to want a new approach to West Papua and is in fact visiting West Papua as a first act of his Presidency, will he support genuine media freedom?"
Catherine Delahunty says unlike in West Papua, journalists are still able to report in the most troubled parts of the world such as Syria and Palestine.
Jayapura, Jubi – The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) criticized President Joko Widodo’s decision to name Ryamizard Ryacudu as Minister of Defense.
“The assignment of such authoritarian person like Ryamizard Ryacudu showed the President Widodo is not serious about promoting human rights or concerned about Papua,” ETAN Coordinator, John M. Miller said Monday (27/10).
Miller further said Ryacudu is the historical legacy of the human rights violations by the military and his assignment could be a threat to human rights defenders and firmly confirm military intervention in civilian affairs.
“Although eradicating corruption is a priority for his administration, President Widodo clearly has not considered Ryacudu’s background and track record on human rights issues in Indonesia,” he added.
Prior to the Presidential Election, the Indonesian human rights defenders group urged the new administrative after the election to disconnect with the past. An Indonesian human rights activist said Ryacudu’s assignment is likely inheriting the impunity on the human rights violations in the past.
“It would reveal the lack of accountability in solving the human rights violation in the past, as well as in the present. It also a threat to the expansion of human rights enforcement, especially in Papua,” Papuan young activist Robert Jitmau said.
Ryamizard Ryacudu is known as the military general who often condemned the human rights defenders. He had doubt about the ability of civilian to rule this country. At the end of 2003, Ryacudu stated those who opposed the military’s policy should be considered as anti-government; therefore they could be removed. He also offended Papuan people by saying the members of Kopassus (Military Special Force) who killed the Great Papuan Leader Theys Hiyo Eluay as heroes.
“People said they were guilty, they broke the law. What was it? Yes, this is a State of Law. But for me, they are the heroes because they killed the leader of the rebels,” said Ryacudu at that time. (Victor Mambor)
Jayapura, Jubi- Special Autonomy Plus Bill ( Otsus Plus) has been shelved after costing Rp.15 billion for drafting and discussions. Even though pros and cons have occurred internally, still, the budget must be accounted for.
“When it comes to the state money, the use must be accounted with details. Since, it was large amount of money,” former director of Elsham Papua, Aloysius Renwarin, said told Jubi on Thursday (23/10).
He added that the process of making a bill must go through a proper mechanism in order to be discussed and approved by the House of Representatives. “Look at how community, academics and bureaucrats involvement in the legislative process of the Papua Special Autonomy Law of 2001. though there were opposing but the process was still running ” Renwarin explained
Based on the working mechanism of the House of Representatives, first there must be a Standing Committee of “ Otsus Plus “, then the Special Committee of Otsus Plus and the last is hearing about how the bill can be passed into Special Autonomy Plus Law.
Separately Dr. Agus Sumule, lecturer at the University of Papua said Rp.15 billion was a large amount of money for draft Autonomy Plus that categorized as undocumented economic and fiscal calculations as well as other academic analysis manuscript that never known to the public.
“Both the content of the draft 14 that submitted to the Minister of Home Affairs was from a team formed by West Papua Governor chaired by Secretary of West Papua. The whole work in the province of West Papua and West Papua financed by the provincial budget, ” Sumele, former team facilitation of Papua Special Autonomy Law in 2001 added.
Sumule also quoted Yunus Wonda ‘s statement that drafting Plus Special Autonomy Law has spent Rp 15 billion. “It needs to be followed up by the attorney and police department because there are several reasons that the funds are used up. It is Contrary when Papua Special Autonomy Law in 2001 made, only Rp. 3 Billion used which included consultation throughout Irian Jaya and Workskhops , “he said.(Dominggus A Mampioper)
Abepura, Jubi – World Habitat Day was celebrated in Kali APO, Jayapura city, with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for Nature urging communities to care for the environment.
In this event, marked every first Monday in October, WWF in collaboration with the Development Unit Water Supply Management of Papua Province carried out joint activities with the community in a program called ‘Urban Housing Aspirations’ on October 23, 2014.
WWF urged communityies to improve the drainage, water supply and green space.
WWF is helping the government to establish communication with citizens in managing slums.
Third, WWF was to raise public awareness to preserve and maintain the living environment of the aspect of cleanliness, comfort, safety and health. The last was to increase public involvement and public awareness will be revamping urban settlements.
A series of activities were held such as planting 200 trees in locations vulnerable to landslides, conducting interactive dialogue to accommodate the aspirations of the people and extension urban farming and fire disaster response simulation.
Piter Roki Aloisius, program coordinator of WWF said it aimed at accommodating the aspirations of the community and communicating of information for environmental regulation that can be achieved.
Its success depends on the cooperation of all parties. Cooperation between the government, particularly related agencies for socialization city planning. “We need to work together,” he said.
Bayangkara headman ( Lurah), North Jayapura District, represented by his secretary, Bonefar Bonay welcomed the activities held in the urban village.He also invited members of the community in order to build clean and conforatble settlements particularly in the slum village territory.
“This village is prone to flooding, and there have been victims of flood,” he added.
Meanwhile, Medito Kabuari represented the Head of the Provincial Department of Public Works Papua Michael Kambuaya in the the speech, encouraged all elements to create a good living climate towards community dwellers viable and healthy.(Mawel Benny/Tina)
Jayapura, Jubi - The village participatory map program is a means of protecting the rights of indigenous peoples to land, the executive director of the Assessment and Empowerment of Indigenous Papuans (pt.PPMA-P), Zadrak Wamebu, said.
He there has been disagreement between indigenous peoples’ policy and the state’s policies. Many indigenous people frequently lose their rights due to state policies, prompting them to rebel.
“Most of indigenous Papuans have been fighting for their rights. For example, they took the option of armed resistance. So, we try to give an explanation to the public to not fight against the state. Because the state is always equipped with the military, the police, judges and everything, ” Wamebu said told Jubi on Thursday (23/10).
The change can only be done if the community expressed injustice that they experienced. It will promote a change in policy.
“As, we did almost 25 years and now a change has occurred. Only, we must remember that the state is unlikely to change without any encouragement. Besides that the regulation is always too late which is as we know that it regulates everything and we try to bridge it, “he said.
The mapping is a part of protecting the customary rights of indigenous peoples. Only with maps and information, it could be explained the position of Indigenous Peoples. He hopes that it will be interpreted into regulation.
“Our struggle is how to make it into legal recognition. So I used to say, this country belongs to indigenous peoples from Aceh to Papua, “he added
While Walesi Indigenous Foundation Director , Deny Rahadian said Papua is actually a pioneer in mapping participatory and it has been doing since two years ago.
“In conducting mapping participatory program in Papua, some indigenous peoples are assisted by Samdhana Institute through its partners ,” he stated.
Samdhana facilitated these activities to support indgenous mapping in order to empower them in land and resource. Samdhana also encouraged the Indogenous peoples map indigenous peoples to be recognized legally. (Arjuna Pademme/ Tina)