Friday, January 22, 2016

1) Indonesia’s Papua Reporting Paranoia

2) MSG Chair to facilitate Indo-Papua discussion

4) US continues cooperation with Indonesia to combat terrorism


1) Indonesia’s Papua Reporting Paranoia

Despite Widodo’s promise of an “opening,” journalists are still being kept out of Papua.
By Phelim Kine January 22, 2016
There are new hazards for foreign journalists attempting to report from Indonesia’s restive easternmost provinces of Papua and West Papua (generally referred to as “Papua”): visa denial and blacklisting. Just ask Bangkok-
based France 24 TV correspondent Cyril Payen.
On January 8, the Indonesian Embassy in Bangkok informed Payen that it had denied his application for a journalist’s visa for a reporting trip to Indonesia’s Papua province. The denial was not wholly unexpected. On November 8, Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials notified the French Embassy in Jakarta that they considered Payen’s previous reporting, which focused on pro-independence sentiment in the region, “biased and unbalanced.” Rather than engaging with Payen and France 24 to publicly challenge the report’s alleged inaccuracies, the Indonesian government took the punitive and disproportionate step of a threatened visa ban for an unspecified period of time for any France 24 journalists seeking to report from the country.
Payen’s predicament highlights the glaring gap between the rhetoric of Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s announced “opening” of Papua and West Papua (commonly referred to as “Papua”) to foreign media and the far grimmer reality for journalists still blocked from reporting there.
Official reprisals for reporting on Papua that displeases the government are a threat to journalists and their sources alike.
A week after Marie Dhumieres, a Jakarta-based French correspondent, returned from a Papua reporting trip in October, police detained a Papuan activist who had travelled with her along with two of his friends. Police interrogated the trio for 10 hours, demanding details of Dhumieres’ reporting trip. Police subsequently released the men without charges. Dhumieres expressed her dismay in a tweet to Jokowi: “So Mr @jokowi, foreign journalists are free to work anywhere in Papua but the people we interview get arrested after we leave?”
None of this should be happening.
After all, last May, Jokowi announced a long overdue lifting of the 25-year de facto ban on foreign media access to Papua. That policy change was supposed to put an end to placing foreign journalists in legal limbo through the denial of Papua reporting applications outright or a failure to approve them.
But Payen and Dhumieres’ experiences highlight the disconnect documented in a November 2015 Human Rights Watch report between Jokowi’s policy objectives and the fierce opposition of some elements of the Indonesian government and security forces to opening Papua to foreign media.
Since Jokowi’s announcement, a series of senior government officials have publicly contradicted that policy change. They include National Police spokesman and Senior Commander Agus Rianto. On May 12 he asserted that the government would continue to restrict foreign correspondents’ Papua access through an entry permit system. Rianto justified the need to maintain foreign media access restrictions to Papua to prevent foreign media from talking to “people who opposed the government” as well as to block the access of “terrorists” who might pretend to be journalists as a means to travel to Papua.
On May 26, Minister of Defense Ryamizard Ryacudu warned that foreign media access to Papua was conditional on an obligation to produce “good reports.” Ryacudu did not precisely define “good reports,” but he explicitly equated foreign journalists’ negative reporting on Papua with “sedition” and threatened expulsion for any foreign journalist whose reporting displeased the government.
These statements reflect a deeply rooted perception among many Indonesian government and security agency officials that foreign media access to Papua is a recipe for instability in a region already troubled by widespread public dissatisfaction with Jakarta and a small but persistent armed independence movement. The challenges to media freedom in Papua are compounded by obstacles faced by Indonesian journalists – particularly ethnic Papuan reporters. Local journalists who report on sensitive political topics and human rights abuses are often subject to harassment, intimidation and violence by officials, members of the public and pro-independence forces. Conversations with Indonesian bureaucrats and government officials about the tenacity of official obstacles to foreign media access to Papua routinely reference East Timor and a persistent suspicion that the presence of foreign media and human rights activists in East Timor helped pave the way to that former Indonesian province’s independence in 2002.
Indeed, the government’s obstacles to Papua access extend beyond journalists. The security forces closely monitor the activities of international groups that the government permits to operate in Papua – those that seek to address human rights concerns get particular scrutiny. International NGOs such as the Dutch development group Cordaid that the government asserts are involved in “political activities” have been forced to cease operations, their representatives banned from travel to the region.
Government restrictions on foreigners have extended to United Nations officials and academics Indonesian authorities perceive as hostile. In 2013 the government rejected the proposed visit of Frank La Rue, then the UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression, because he insisted on including Papua on his itinerary. Foreign academics who do get permission to visit the region have been subjected to surveillance by the security forces. Those perceived to have pro-independence sympathies have been placed on visa blacklists.
Lout Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, the security minister, said on November 11 that he would take action if he were given evidence that government or security officials were obstructing foreign journalists from going to the Papua region. “Come back to me, and if it’s necessary, we will fire them,” he said.
The experience of Cyril Payen, Marie Dhumieres and other foreign journalists suggest that it’s time that Pandjaitan deliver on that promise.
Phelim Kine is the deputy director of Asia division at Human Rights Walk and a former Jakarta-based foreign correspondent.

2) MSG Chair to facilitate Indo-Papua discussion
Updated at 3:07 pm on 22 January 2016
The chair of the Melanesian Spearhead Group has offered to facilitate a meeting between the Indonesian government and the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.
West Papua has seen a low-level separatist war since Jakarta took over the former Dutch colony in the 1960s.
Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare made the proposal in Honiara this week to a ULMWP delegation led by their secretary general Octo Mote.
The memberships of both Indonesia and the ULMWP were the highlight of last year's MSG summit in Solomon Islands with the former securing associate membership and the latter observer status in the sub-regional Melanesian body.
Mr Sogavare says he believes it is important that the MSG engage Indonesia in dialogue with the ULMWP to gauge its thinking on the issues facing its Melanesian Papua region.
Meanwhile the ULMWP has indicated its desire to establish an office in Papua to further engagement with Indonesia and to try and do away with assertions from Jakarta that it only represents exiled Papuans living abroad.

Jayapura, Jubi – Papua legislator Rube Magai a visit by US ambassador to Indonesia Robert Blake to Papua should not only involvr sight-seeing but also focus on resolving the conflict.
He said the United States should not only think about its own interests, but also participate in pushing for an end to the conflict in Papua.
Moreover Papua has three trum cards as reasons to seek independence: Freeport’s contract, human rights violations since 1963 to present and the political status of Papua that has been scrutinized by the international community, in particular Pacific countries.

“Those three things have close links with Papua’s history that has not been resolved until now. The ambassador should not only come to visit, but also to participate in solving problems in Papua. During the time those who played the game in Papua are the United States and Indonesia for the sake of investment and potencies of natural resources in Papua,” Magai told Jubi on Monday (18/1/2016).
Related to Freeport’s issue, according to him, the company signed its first contract with Indonesia in 1967 or before Papua integrated with Indonesia in 1969, but never involved the indigenous Papua as landowners. About human rights violations in Papua, he said, it was occurred since 1963 to present and the Indonesian Government has not resolved it.
“The third problem is Papua’s political status. Until now its political status continues to discuss in every meeting of Pacific countries, such as in MSG and Pacific Forum Island (PIF). In MSG, Papua is currently obtained status as observer. Papuan issues have not only taken to regional level but also to international level and even to the United Nations,” he said.
He said it is now depending on the US to react on Papua, whether they would detain their ego for the sake of investment, that is the Freeport to continue sacrifice the indigenous Papua or they have a political action to push the resolution of many problems in Papua.
During the time, he added, the United States saw the Freeport as big investment; while the indigenous Papua are becoming victims and the Indonesian Government is being ignorant.
“These three issues are Papua’s ace cards. Though the Indonesian Government was silent, the politic in Papua is still running. The Central Government should immediately solve the human rights violations that were occurred since 1963 to present. Then about Freeport’s Contract of Work, it is the crime of the United States and Indonesia. The investment problem should be solved separately according to the issues. Do not blend it or politicized,” he said.
Earlier, the Chief Representative of Human Right Commission Papua Region, Frits Ramandey stated he would run a dialog with the Ambassador of the United States for Indonesia, Robert Blake Jr. He though the ambassador would question about human rights agendas.
“Clearly the Human Right Commission has an interest to clarify about human rights cases, but also ask for some sort enforcement (intervention) from the US Ambassador for Indonesia towards several cases handled by the Human Rights Commission that have not been resolved,” said Ramandey. (Arjuna Pademme/rom)

4) US continues cooperation with Indonesia to combat terrorism

Jumat, 22 Januari 2016 17:09 WIB | 613 Views
Sentani, Papua (ANTARA News) - The US government continues to cooperate with the Indonesian government to combat the threat of terrorism.

"I would like to explain that the US government stands side by side with Indonesia to counter the threat of terrorism," the United States Ambassador to Indonesia Robert O. Blake informed journalists here on Friday.

The ambassador offered condolences to the families of those killed during the bomb blasts and shootout that took place in a Starbucks cafe and near a police post in Jalan Thamrin, Central Jakarta.

"On behalf of the Government of the United States, I offer condolences to the families of those who were killed," he stated.

In addition, Blake lauded the performance of the police for handling the attacks swiftly. As a result, the police could minimize casualties during the incident.

Blake and his entourage met several Papuan activists, Papuas governor, and its police chief.

They also visited numerous villages in the district of Jayapura. 

The ambassador is scheduled to meet Commander of the Military Regional Command (Kodam) XVII/Cenderawasih Maj. Gen. Hinsa Siburian tonight.

With regard to his visit to the Komba Elementary School, the ambassador was keen to observe the performance of the USAID program, which has been running in the past few years in the areas of education and health.

Earlier, the ASEAN member states had expressed their full support to the Indonesian government to combat terrorism following the attacks in Jakarta, Indonesia, on January 14, 2016, which led to the loss of innocent lives, injuries, and damage to property.

In a written statement received by ANTARA on Friday, the ASEAN has encouraged Indonesia to bring the perpetrators of the heinous act to justice. 

The ASEAN remains united and committed to working with the international community to further intensify cooperation necessary to tackle terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever, and by whomsoever it is committed.  

The ASEAN extends its deepest sympathies and condolences to the Indonesian government and people, especially to the families of the victims of this attack.

The ASEAN member countries commend the swift and courageous actions of the Indonesian security forces in response to the attack.

The bomb attacks and series of shootings in Jakartas business district on Thursday led to seven fatalities and injuries to 20 others.(*)

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