Left: Street art in London by Dale Grimshaw (photo by Monoprixx, wall supplied by The Real Art of Street Art. Right: World Press Freedom Day 2017 Poster (UNESCO).
As Indonesia prepares to host World Press Freedom Day, accusations of hypocrisy are growing louder. The Indonesian government is notorious for restricting journalism within the occupied territory of West Papua – something that West Papuan journalist Victor Mambor and Cyril Payen of France24 have both experienced.
Victor Mambor: Indonesia’s double standards
Every year, on May 3rd, we celebrate the basic principles of press freedom. World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) exists to give an annual evaluation of global press freedom; to stand up for the independence of the press from violence; and to pay tribute to those who have lost their life carrying their journalistic duties.
This year, Indonesia is the host of WPFD. Many activities are planned for the celebration from May 1st to 4th, 2017, which will include 1200 participants from 100 countries. It seems that Indonesia, a country which ranks 124 out of 180 on the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2017 Press Freedom Index, wants to convince the international community that media freedom is in fact its priority.
Unfortunately, the Indonesian government’s record does not match its rhetoric, particularly in the eastern Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua (often known collectively as West Papua). These two provinces have faced serious issues: restrictions are placed on foreign journalists, while violence and discrimination against Papuan journalists and bribery are common occurrences.
In May 2015, President Joko Widodo declared that access restrictions for foreign journalists in West Papua would be lifted, and Indonesia claimed they then gave permission to 39 foreign journalists to report in the region. However, figures from the Alliance of Independent Journalists in Papua show that only 15 foreign journalists have in fact been permitted to enter West Papua since 2015, and many have faced difficulties in reporting independently.
The visa application for Radio New Zealand International reporter, Johnny Blades took almost two years to be approved, and only after he was able to convince the Indonesian Embassy that he would only cover development issues. Even then, he was accompanied by police and military officers who would not let him film everything he wanted.
Radio France reporter, Marie Dhumieres, was spied on by police while reporting from West Papua in 2015. ‘The police arrested two Papuan civilians for helping me gain access to a plane. They were interrogated by the police,’ said Dhumieres.
Discrimination and violence
In February 2017, research by WAN-IFRA (The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers) concluded that government officials and security forces are discriminating against Indigenous Papuan journalists, who are stigmatized as supporters of the Free West Papua Movement. One reporter from Papua Selatan Pos admitted that he experienced intimidation from the police and government, including the banning of two of his publications in 2007 and 2008. He was threatened with criminal charges and prohibited from reporting on President Joko Widodo’s investment programme in the Merauke region.
When Papuan civilians are shot or arrested, Indigenous Papuan journalists find it very difficult to get any information from the security forces. ‘When a shooting incident took place towards a civilian in Boven Digoel, I asked for confirmation from the police chief via text message. Instead of confirming the incident, he said “I thought you were banned from reporting”,’ revealed Arnold Belau, a reporter from Suara Papua.
Indigenous Papuan journalists including the late Octovianus Pogau, Abeth You (Koran Jubi), and Ardi Bayage (Suara Papua) have experienced violence from police officers during their coverage of peaceful public rallies in West Papua.
Abeth describes one such incident from 2015: ‘After I took pictures of activists, police officers from Jayapura Municipality Police later came out from a police truck to disperse the protesters. There was a police officer that acted brutally against the demonstrators. He came towards me, seized my camera and deleted my photos. He insisted that I was a demonstrator, although I showed him my press card.’
Ardi Bayage was even put in the Abepura police cells for covering a West Papua National Committee (KNBP) demonstration in support the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP). He was arrested and put in jail with seven other demonstrators. Later, the police said they did not know that Bayage was a journalist.
From 2012 to 2016, the Alliance of Independent Journalists of Jayapura Municipality recorded 63 cases of violence against journalists in West Papua. None of these cases led to any legal consequences for the police.
Cash for good news
‘At first, I was amazed to see so many journalists waiting around at the end of interview sessions with officials. I then found out that they were actually waiting for their money.’ said one journalist who works for a media base in Jakarta. Another journalist confessed that regional officials are willing to give large sums of money to make up news about the success of development projects in West Papua, even if the real facts are very different.
Bribery has become a serious issue for journalists in West Papua. According to RSF’s 2017 Press Freedom Index, the practice is partly driven by the low salary of journalists in West Papua. Journalists receive bribes from officials as a reward for writing positive stories about the region. As a consequence, journalists rarely report problematic issues such as environmental degradation from development projects or violence against civilians from the security forces.
‘The government claims that access has been restricted because those websites had “separatist” content. But we need to ensure that any such restrictions meet accepted human rights standards,’ said Asep Komarudin, Research Coordinator of the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers Jakarta). He believes that websites should not be restricted unless the process is clear, transparent and recognized by law. Any determination of content should be carried out by a judicial authority or an independent body, not the government.
All of these issues should be of great concern to anyone involved in celebrating World Press Freedom Day in Jakarta. Double standards in press freedom are not something to be proud of!
Victor Mambor is Editor of the West Papuan newspaper Tabloid Jubi. He was former chairperson for The Alliance of Independent Journalist in Papua (2010-2016). Now he is a press expert of the Indonesia Press Council.
Cyril Payen: ‘Too good to be true’
I have lived and worked for more than 20 years in Asia. My reporting took me from Burma to North Korea, from the jungles of the Southern Philippines to Tibet - but there was still one place, a remote, wild and inaccessible region bordering Asia and the Pacific, an area I had always dreamt to visit: West Papua.
This remote region annexed by Indonesia had always been a journalist’s fantasy, an impossible challenge. There were a few amazing stories over the years of colleagues spending months in the Papuan swamps among machete-wielding guerrillas, or of foreigners vanishing at the border with Papua New Guinea. Stories of daring reporters too, being arrested and deported from Jayapura and banned from Indonesia after trying to get into the region undercover.
More than five decades ago Indonesia brutally annexed this region with no noticeable reaction from the outside world. The area had been always off limits to humanitarian organizations as well as foreign journalists. Forty-five thousand troops were said to be currently stationed here: more than anywhere else in the country. Years of repression had resulted in hundreds of thousands of victims among the local West Papuan population. Why did Jakarta have such an interest in this land? Why were they keeping it sealed up?
Then, in 2014, a new reform-oriented president was elected in Indonesia. Joko Widodo’s ideas, programme and intentions sounded very promising.
After just a few months in office, the new president declared that off-limits provinces like Papua and West Papua were now accessible to anyone without needing a permit. It sounded too good to be true, so I immediately contacted officials from the Ministry Of Foreign Affairs in Jakarta. Surprisingly, it took less than two weeks to obtain a press visa for West Papua. On a misty morning of June 2015, I was finally landing at Jayapura airport after a long flight over the immense Indonesian archipelago.
Working in a place which has been closed for decades is not easy. Fully aware of the huge military intelligence network in place in Indonesia that I had experienced in East Timor, Aceh and Ambon over the years, I was instinctively watching my back upon arrival in West Papua, checking the streets for distinctive men with black leather biker jackets – a trademark look for Indonesian undercover police. More importantly, I did not rush to get in touch with local dissidents and human rights activists so as not to compromise them. It really goes with the job to be cautious, and not take for granted any sudden change of rules. Frankly, I was expecting to be followed and spied upon. After a few days, it was clear I was not.
Staying for a while in Jayapura, I could work quite freely, even sneaking into the provincial jail to meet political leaders and ‘Papua Merdeka’ (Free West Papua) members. Jayapura was obviously becoming a carbon copy of other major industrialized Indonesian cities. Sadly, all traces of Papuan culture had nearly vanished already. Through a massive and uncontrolled transmigration plan, hundreds of thousands of Indonesians had been relocated here. Dramatic demographic changes had occurred already: the Papuans had become a minority.
So I decided to leave the city. And then the problems started.
I left for the Baliem Valley, at the heart of the island. I headed through one of the wildest and most remote regions on earth to reach Tolikara, a village perched almost 2000 meters above sea level. It was less than a century ago that outsiders stumbled across this remote area. Today a growing number of Indonesians are migrating to Tolikara, creating an uneasy peace with local tribes. Here, I started to be followed, and my contacts began to be watched. My Papuan driver mysteriously changed overnight, being replaced by an Indonesian man from Java who happened to be a military intelligence operative. The day after my visit, violent incidents started in Tolikara. The police shot several local villagers demonstrating against the Indonesian presence. After a few days into the Baliem Valley, I radically changed my way of working, starting to be very cautious and to move quickly. Back to Jayapura, two intelligence officers were waiting for me, quietly sitting in the lobby of my hotel. It suddenly looked like the old days. My filming was done. The next morning, I was gone.
A few months later, my documentary ‘La Guerre Oubliée des Papous’ (‘Papua’s Forgotten War’) was broadcast worldwide on France 24. The Indonesian embassy in Paris immediately reacted by summoning the French Ambassador in Jakarta to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During the tense meeting, the diplomat was told I had ‘betrayed’ their trust and that my film was ‘biased’. As a result, I would be denied any Indonesian visa from that day forwards. The president’s promises had not lasted long. It was, indeed, too good to be true.
Cyril Payen is the Middle East correspondent for France 24. Some of his coverage from West Papua can be seen on France 24.
Ulis Turot, the shooting victim, after the surgery in Sorong hospital – IST
Jayapura, Jubi– Residents around SMP Negeri I Aifat, South Sorong, was shocked last Thursday (20th April) by the shooting of an ordinary citizen conducted by a mobile brigade member (Brimob). The victim, named Ulis Turot, was shot on the right back of his hip until the bullet penetrated into the front of his abdomen.
Mario, an eyewitness to this incident said it occurred around 12:00 at local time. Before the shot, the victim was seen asking for cigarettes at a stall owned by a teacher of SMP Negeri I Aifat.
“The teacher did want to give a cigarette and Ulis who was under influence of alcohol drinks pressed the teacher to give him cigarette. The teacher was panic and call Brimob on the phone,” said Mario via telephone, Friday (April 2st 2017).
Shortly after, three members of Brimob (still unidentified) came to the kiosk location, and then hit the victim. The victim ran to his house, not far from school. He came out again with a machete and went to the back of the house. The three members of Brimob followed the victims. Somehow, two shots were heard. Then the victim Ulis ran to the front of his house while holding his stomach.
“Ulis was shot on the right back of his and the bullet penetrated into the front of his abdomen,” explained Mario.
At that time, continued Mario, an adult woman named Magda wanted to record video of the victim. However, he was reprimanded by one of the Brimob officers so she did not record it.
“While in front of the house, the Brimob still beat Ulis, handcuffed and dragged him into Brimob Patrol car. This event was witnessed by local residents and Head of North Aifat District, Roni Kocu, “continued Mario.
He was then being brought into the brimob car and took him to the Kumurkek Police Station without informed his family. The district chief followed the authorities.
Seli Kosho, victim’s family in Sorong just learned about the shootings after received a call by a TNI member in the afternoon. Seli was told that Ulis was in Sorong General Hospital, which is about 200 km from Kumurkek or 6 hours by car.
“Friday, April 21st 2017, at 10:00 am Ulis was having surgery for the second time in Sorong hospitals,” said Seli.
Jubi called the phone number of South Sorong Police Chief, AKBP Iwan Surya Ananta, S.IK on Saturday (22nd April) to confirm this incident. But the number cannot be contacted. Ealier in Friday night, Jubi also had asked the Police Chief via WhatsApp channel and sent pictures of the victim after the surgery to get him confirmation. But the Chief did not respond. (*)
Timika, Jubi – Branch chairman of Chemical, Energy and Mining Workers’ Union (SP-KEP) SPSI Mimika Regency, Papua Province fully supports PT Freeport Indonesia’s worker strike’a plan from 1 May.
Chairman of SP-KEP SPSI Mimika Aser Gobay in Timika, Wednesday (26th April), said that PT Freeport employees have the right to hold a strike, which is guaranteed by Law No. 13 of 2003 on Labor.
The strike planned to last for a whole month from May 1 to 31, 2017 was raised by the Head of Work Unit (PUK) SP-KEP SPSI PT Freeport.
“Please feel free if the security forces advise employees to discourage their intention to strike, but employees also have the right to strike, it is guaranteed by law,” Aser said.
He responded to opinion of the Manpower, Transmigration and People’s Housing Office of Mimika who called employees strike to have no legality since it was not caused by a failure of negotiation with the management.
“The strike is not merely based from failed negotiation, but the union asks Freeport’s management to negotiate, which they refused, that is why the strike is legitimate,” explained Aser who is an employee of PT Kuala Pelabuhan Indonesia (KPI), one of a privatization company that manages transportation within PT Freeport.
Aser said that the PUK SP-KEP SPSI has yet to discuss in detail what activities will be held on May 1 to coincide with the commemoration of International Day of Work (May Day) in Timika.
According to him, PT Freeport employees’ strike which was followed by all employees of Freeport subcontractors this time was triggered by various problems within PT Freeport and subcontractor companies, among others, the layoffs policy, forelock (laying off) employees.
The forelock policy imposed on more than 1,000 PT Freeport employees, he said, has no legal basis as it is not regulated in the Industrial Relations Guidance book and the Collective Labor Agreement (PKB) and has never been negotiated with the union.
He said thousands of workers of PT Freeport and subcontractor companies who meet daily at the Secretariat Office PUK SP-KEP SPSI PT Freeport on Jalan Budi Utomo Timika is no longer working because they are all threatened to be laid off and dismissed by the management company.(*)
4) 93 Countries to Question Indonesia`s Human Rights Violations
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - As many as 93 countries have signed up for United Nation`s human rights board where they will question Indonesia’s human rights enforcements in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
“There are 93 countries that have submitted their review,” said Presidential staff expert Ifdhal Kasim today, April 27. Ifdhal is yet to be notified on the questions that will be asked by the delegations.
He is not sure that each country will have the time to deliver their questions, considering that the Indonesian delegation will only be provided with a 3.5 hours window.
According to Ifdhal, reviewers often ask questions related to the death penalty that still exists in Indonesia. In addition, President Jokowi has considered a death penalty moratorium following pressure from the public. “We can’t deny the death penalty. We will report what we have done with our death penalty system. It can be seen in the criminal code revision,” he said.
Indonesia will also explain the development of past human rights violation incidents, such as the Wamena Wasior case.
“It’s being discussed by the attorney general’s office to determine whether the status will be improved to an investigation or not,” Ifdhal said.
In another occasion, Foreign Ministry’s Human Rights Director Dicky Omar says that UN`s third cycle of human rights board will be an opportunity for Indonesia to respond to UPR’s previous recommendation in 2012.
“We urge the countries to review Indonesia’s human rights cases proportionally. Deliver your recommendations but in a realistic way that can be implemented,” Dicky said.
A google translate. Be-aware google translate can be a bit erratic.
Action of nucleus plantation owned by PT. PN II Arso, Keerom, Wednesday 27 April 2016. (Aaron Rumbarar - SP)
JAYAPURA, SUARAPAPUA.com - PT. Perkebunan Nusantara (PT PN) II Arso Garden, a state-owned enterprise (SOE) which is currently engaged in the oil palm plantation, today, Thursday, April 27, 2017, even a year not operating due to the demands of indigenous peoples can not be met.
The palm plantation owned by PTPN II Arso in particular the core gardens, ranging from one to five core core gardens originally housed by indigenous peoples of the three major tribes in Arso: the Abrab, Marap and Manem tribes, were forced to propagate to a factory strike resulting from no harvesting activity , Transport, and (PAO).
According to Dominika Tafor, the coordinator of indigenous peoples who are still still doing the action together with public figures stated that the government and the company neglected to see the condition of people who live suffering on customary land.
"Our demands are simple, that is, we ask the company to compensate for the land used for 34 years. And if there is an extension of the contract, then we as the first party to give consent, "said Tafor when confirmed suarapapua.com, Thursday (4/27/2017) afternoon.
The demand is not new this time, he said, the same thing was delivered last year. "Exactly April 27, 2016, we made a run in the core garden. We will do the same thing this year with the target factory and office of PTPN II Arso, "he said.
Reported by this media before, the action was carried out by residents in the village of Yamara PIR V, Manem district, Keerom district, Papua, Wednesday (4/27/2016).
Perkebunan Nusantara II, having its address at Tanjung Morawa Medan North Sumatra, received approval from the central government through the Letter of the Minister of Agriculture No. 851 / Mentan / X1980 dated October 8, 1980 and Letter number 4781 / Mentan / VI / 1992 dated June 4, 1982 to build a plantation in the Arso , Jayapura District (now Keerom County) with the aim of accelerating development in the border area.
This is known at the time of the auditing of Keerom and the Governor of Papua Province last month.
Servo Tuamis, a local community leader who currently serves as chairman of the Indigenous Council of Keerom deeply regretted the actions of the government in this case the head of Keerom and the governor of the Papua Province which has not been able to solve this problem.
"We are not objects or other things that are easily used by the company and the government," Servo said a few days ago when interviewed suarapapua.com in Arso.
He also asserted, indigenous people will not compromise before there is clarity. "We will not open the palm oil plantation until there is clarity and resolution of this issue through our demands," he said.
Admittedly, the land area of 50,000 ha used by the company did not have a positive impact for local residents. "This is the land used since the 80s until now we got what? Trada. In fact, we are the victims in the name of development in Keerom, "said Servo Tuamis, who since 1985 until now still persistently fight for their rights.
Data from the Plantation and Forestry Office of Keerom Regency, the area of oil palm plantations in the area reached 11,921 hectares, with a harvested area of 10,195 ha. The palm oil mill PTPN II Arso has been operating since April 1992 with a capacity of 15 tons of FFB / hr.
Jayapura, Jubi – The management of PT PLN Papua and West Papua (WP2B) will increase the electrification ratio in Papua by building a number of PLTMGs that will be in existence from 2017 to 2019.
General Manager of PLN WP2B Yohanes Sukrislismono estimates that in September 2017, PLTMG (Phase I) of 50 MW will be built to get surplus of electricity power in Jayapura.
“PLN also built PLTMG Nabire with a capacity of 20 MW targeted for completion later this year, following PLTMG in Timika 40 MW, Biak 35 MW, Merauke 40 MW, Serui 10 MW, Manokwari 20 MW, Fakfak 10 MW, Bintuni 10 MW, and Kaimana 10 MW and Raja Ampat 10 MW, ” he added.
He hopes that by 2018 the electricity supply in Papua will be available with the addition of new power plants.
Quoted from CNNIndonesia.com, PT PLN (Persero) budgeted Rp2, 53 trillion to run electricity projects into the village this year in North Maluku province, Maluku, West Papua and Papua.
Most of the budget is allocated for Papua and West Papua are Rp1.81 trillion or 71.53 percent of the total funding plan.
Regional Business Director of Maluku and Papua PLN Haryanto WS said the budget is allocated to 564 villages in Maluku and Papua. A total of 365 villages are located in Papua and the remaining 199 are located in the Maluku archipelago.
“We allocate the budget Rp1, 81 trillion for electricity to be able to reach into the village in Papua and Rp752 billion in Maluku,” said Haryanto, Tuesday (April 25th)
Although the number of villages to be reached in Papua is almost twice that of Maluku, the village’s electricity budget in Papua is almost three times then of Maluku. Haryanto said, the high cost incurred due to Papua’s geographical location is difficult to penetrate the road. (*)
Sorong, Jubi – The Pacific Aquatic Resources Research Center (P2SP2) of Papua University confirmed that the turtle population in Kaimana, West Papua province is almost extinct.
It is said only seven species of turtles in the world and six of them are from Indonesia. Four from the six species of Indonesian turtles are exist in West Papua province, they are green turtles, hawksbill, cleaved turtles, and leatherback turtles whose movements spread to Aru, Kei, Southeast Maluku, Kaimana and Fakfak, West Papua Province.
In March-October 2016, P2SP2 conducted research on turtles. The survey conducted at Etna Bay (Lakahia and Ombanariki) and Venu Island, Kaimana.
Unipa Lecturer of Marine Biology and Conservation Ricardo Tapilatu said the number of turtles decreased due predators such as pigs, monitor lizards, hawks and sharks. Environmental conditions also greatly affect, such as high sand temperatures and high tides.
“There has been a drastic reduction in the number of turtles. For example leatherback turtle species in 2008 is about 15,000 nests per year, dropping to 2,000 nests per year in 2011. Last year there were only 1,500 nests per year,” he said in a written statement received by Jubi in Sorong, Tuesday (25/4 / 2017).
The biggest threat to turtles, he said is human behavior. The use of fishing tools such as hooks and fishing rods choked the turtles off and threaten its survival. In addition, the plastics that turtles eat caused them to die.
The turtle plays an important role for the conservation of the marine environment. Green turtles, for example, are the key species that feed on sea grass, so the sea grass fertility increases. While hawksbill consume sponges, but also maintain the fertility of sponges.
“Turtles release their eggs on sandy beaches could be a good indicator of the coastal environment. The turtles only seek clean waters and beaches free from pollution with natural ecosystems, “said Director of Indonesia Marine Conservation International, Victor Nikijuluw.
Kaimana Deputy Regent, Ismail Sirfefa said there should be socialization of this issue to the community, and invite them to also protect species of turtles and it environtment. “(and) People should stop consuming turtles,” he said.(*)