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‘Open up’ West Papua global plea to Jokowi for journalists, rights groups

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The banned Morning Star flag of an “independent” West Papua is unfurled at a recent solidarity concert in Port Moresby, PNG. Image: PMC

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Pacific Media Watch

The London-based Indonesian human rights organisation Tapol is today launching a global appeal to President Joko Widodo for “free and open access” for international journalists, humanitarian groups and human rights observers in the Melanesian Pacific provinces of Papua and West Papua.

More than 50 organisations are co-signatories to a letter being sent to the president, including Green MP Catherine Delahunty, Pacific Media Centre and West Papua Action Auckland and West Papua Action Canterbury from New Zealand.

Global signatories include the Asian Human Rights Commission, Article 19, Minority Rights Group International and Reporters Without Borders.

Tapol and supporting groups are staging an #OpenPapua protest outside the Indonesian Embassy in London today.

The letter from Tapol coordinator Esther Cann says that “for more than 50 years, access for foreign journalists seeking to report on Papua has been severely restricted”.

The plea calls for the president to:

·         Take steps to end violence and intimidation against journalists in West Papua, investigate allegations of violence, and prosecute those suspected of involvement.

·         Remove all restrictions on visits by foreign journalists to West Papua, and on freedom of movement within Papua, including the system by which visa applications are vetted by a clearing house of government departments.

·         Provide access for international humanitarian and human rights organisations to conduct their work, without fear of restriction, harassment or arrest and in accordance with international human rights standards.

·         Allow free and unrestricted access for all UN Special Rapporteurs wishing to visit and report on Papua.

Tourist visas
“Those who have entered Papua on tourist visas have been deported, arrested and even imprisoned,” says the letter.

“Just last year, two French journalists were sentenced to 11 weeks in detention under immigration charges.

“They had travelled to the Papuan Highlands to report on an ongoing conflict between the Indonesian military and pro-independence armed movements.”

According to the Jayapura branch of Indonesia’s Alliance of Independent Journalists (Aliansi Jurnalis Independen, AJI), says the letter, in recent years journalists from Czech Republic, France and the Netherlands had been deported for reporting on peaceful political events in Papua.

At the local level, violence and intimidation of national and local journalists made independent journalism a high-risk activity.

The letter cites several examples:

On 30 July 2010, journalist Ardiansyah Matra’is was found dead after receiving repeated threats from the military while he investigated illegal logging.

On 24 August 2010, Musa Kondorura of radio KBR68H was attacked by two agents from the State Intelligence Agency (Badan Intelijens Negara, BIN).

On 3 March 2011 Banjir Ambarita, a journalist with the Jakarta Globe and Bintang Papua was attacked and stabbed after reporting on a police rape case which resulted in the resignation of senior police official Imam Setiawan.

In 2011, AJI reportedly recorded 7 cases of violence and intimidation against journalists.

In 2012 the number of recorded cases reportedly rose to 12.

In July 2013 the house of a local journalist for Majalah Selengkah, a critical independent news site, was raided by unknown persons who ransacked the place and removed a notebook.

“There are ongoing reports of serious human rights violations including torture, enforced disappearances, murder, ill-treatment, cruel or degrading treatment, excessive use of force and arbitrary arrest of indigenous Papuans by Indonesian security forces,” the letter says.

Source: Pacific Media Watch 9246

Full Tapol international statement to President Joko Widodo and signatories