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Posted By Rua On November 11, 2010 @ 5:36 pm In Articles,
Journalists are being killed or threatened with violence for reporting on business deals, the environment, and the West Papuan independence movement.
Report – By Rebecca Leaver
The naked body of reporter Ardiansyah Matra’is was found, his arm tethered to a tree, in the
He braved months of harassment for his reports on illegal logging.
News reports said he had been tortured but police deny this and claim his death to be suicide.
“Ardiansyah Matra’is was my friend and we worked together,” said Wensislaus Fatubun, who worked as Matra’is’ cameraman before his death.
Fatubun said: “We were approached by a member of Kopassus (the Special Forces Command of the Indonesian government). Ardiansyah got very paranoid after Kopassus kept contacting him.”
Weeks before his death he reportedly accepted an invitation by a group of people claiming to be journalists to help them investigate illegal logging.
According to the Asia-Pacific arm of the International Federation of Journalists, the group were members of Kopassus who threatened him and his family if he did not stop reporting business deals.
A text message he received, translated by the
Journalists also face threats for reporting on the West Papuan independence movement known as the OMP, according to Australian-based Nick Chesterfield, of
This independence struggle is
US Congress held a committee hearing in September into the reports of human rights violations from Indonesian military and security personal towards the people of West Papua called: Crimes against humanity: When will Indonesia’s military be held accountable for deliberate and systematic abuses in West Papua?
“West Papua is like a mountain of gold sitting on a river of oil,” said
“Journalists are killed or put in danger when they hold information about the many business deals.
No other option
“Anywhere journalists report fearlessly they are a target. But most journalists in
Foreign journalists need a government permit to work in the province – which is rarely granted. In June, two French television journalists were detained after filming a human rights rally.
Baudouin Koenig, 54, and Carole Lorthiois, 27, were accused of violating their visas.
Koenig wrote in The Guardian later: “I came to
“For a month, I travelled freely. I worked without restriction on topics as sensitive as sharia law, terrorism, corruption, the slaughter of communists in 1965 and the state of the economy.
“And so, in possession of a valid press card and journalist visa valid, I arrived in Jayapura, the capital of
“A mere few hours after my landing, I touched the limits of freedom of the press. I was arrested while filming a student demonstration in favour of autonomy and democracy. After eight hours of interrogation, the bureau chief of immigration cancelled my visa and sent me back to
The suspicious death of Australian journalist Mark Worth on January 15, 2004, in a hotel room in
Authorities concluded he died of pneumonia but colleagues have urged the Australian government to conduct a more thorough investigation.
Worth, 45, died two days after the Australian Broadcast Corporation premiered his damming documentary on
Former Papuan politician Clemence Runawery told AAP questions remained unanswered about his friend’s death and has likened it to the Balibo Five – the Australian-based journalists murdered in
“The Indonesians knew Worth was following us, they didn’t like it,” he said.
The availability of local information through the West Papuan media is also limited.
Local papers, such as Cepos Cederawasih Pos and Tifa Irian, both in Indonesian, are owned or run by ex-Army or Indonesian politicians.
“Cendrawait Pos occasionally get some good stories,” said
Smaller local papers have been set up and funded by church groups, such as Tabloid Jubi and Bintang Papua, where local people are trained to be reporters.
“They are run as proper media outlets for the community rather than the traditional Javanese controlled media. The idea was to get more people reporting on their community,” said
The intention of
“Our hope is that we have a really robust citizen media that can deliver accountability,”
Rebecca Leaver is a journalist with the Newspaper Publishers’ Association publication PANPA Bulletin . This article is republished with permission from the November edition.
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 PANPA Bulletin: http://www.panpa.org.au/
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