Later that evening, Rudiantara, the Minister of Information and Communication called Asep Komarudin from LBH Pers, promising that the ban would be lifted the next day.
On 21 December, Suara Papua could be accessed again, but not for those using Telkomsel – the largest telecommunications service provider in Indonesia. In Papua, Telkomsel is the main player and controls more than 65 per cent of the market for mobile phone services users. When I recently published an article with Suara Papua, dozens of people told me that they could not read it due to the Kominfo block.
When Jokowi announced the opening of Papua to foreign journalists and monitors in 2015, it was met with strong resistance from senior government and security forces officials. The promise was never realised because Jokowi provide any specific written directives after the announcement. This opened space for non-compliance by state agencies and security forces opposed to loosening restrictions on foreign observers’ access to Papua.
As of 10 March, Suara Papua is online once again. But, despite the grand proclamations from government ministries and Presidential pledges for press freedom, it is no surprise that an increasingly intolerant Indonesia continues to block West Papua from the truth.
Andre Barahamin is researcher of PUSAKA Foundation, and member of Papua Itu Kita (Jakarta-based solidarity campaign for Papua). He is also serving as editor for IndoPROGRESS, an online platform connecting progressive scholars and activists.