The International Federation
of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply disturbed by the death of reporter Ardiansyah Matra’is, whose
body was found in a river in southern Papua province, Indonesia.
The body of Matra’is, a former stringer
for national broadcaster Anteve and reporter for Merauke TV, was discovered on
July 30, at a time when threats against journalists in the province are escalating
ahead of local elections planned for August and September.
“The death of Matra’is is a terrible tragedy, and the IFJ joins with
its affiliate, the Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI), in urging that every effort be made by Indonesia’s authorities to fully
investigate the circumstances,” IFJ Asia-Pacific
Director Jacqueline Park said.
IFJ sources report that Matra’is was
under intense personal strain following his experience of frightening intimidation
about 12 months ago.
After publishing a report in Jubi, a Jayapura newspaper, alleging illegal
logging activity by Indonesian army officers in Papua, he was reportedly contacted
by a group of people claiming to be journalists and invited to accompany them
to investigate another case of illegal logging. Matra’is agreed to accompany
them to a secret location.
However, according to IFJ sources, the
group were not journalists but members of Indonesia’s State Intelligence
Agency. Matra’is was subsequently threatened and intimidated, and was allegedly
told that his family would be killed unless he returned home to Merauke.
Last week, the journalist’s body was
found in a river in Merauke, after he had been missing for two days. IFJ
sources say Matra’is’ arm was tied to a tree in order to prevent his body
Papuan police were expected to
complete an autopsy on August 2. However, local police commander Inspector
General Bekto Soeprapto said the results would be delayed because the autopsy was
to be conducted in Makassar, Celebes, due to lack of suitable facilities in Papua.
Meanwhile, journalists in Papua have
received a series of threats by SMS in the past week as local elections
approach, the Jakarta Globe reported.
IFJ sources report the most recent threat was on July 31, when a letter written
in blood was placed at the door of the Mereaukean home of Lala, a reporter with
Bintang Papua. Lala has since been
evacuated from the area by local police.
Police have sent an anti-terror unit
to Merauke to investigate the threats, which according to IFJ sources contain
language which gives the impression that the writer is not Papuan.
“The IFJ joins AJI in calling on authorities to conduct a thorough and
transparent investigation into the reported illegal detention and threats
issued against Matra’is before his death, and the recent threats perpetrated
against journalists in Papua,” Ms Park said
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
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