Indonesia: Student press threatened for organising Papuan racism discussion

Student journalists from the University of Lampung (Unila) were the targets of digital attacks on June 10, amid preparations to hold an online discussion on racism in Papua. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia condemn the digital attacks and call the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation immediately.

Activists display placards at a rally in front of the Netherlands embassy in Jakarta on March 12, 2020, to draw awareness to Indonesia's Papua region. Credit: Bay Ismoyo/AFP

Writing for the student publication, Teknokra, two journalists, Chairul Rahman Arif and Mitha Setiani Asih received threats after they planned an online discussion on racial discrimination against Papuans. While Chairul received intimidating messages on WhatsApp, sending him his identity card and threats to his parents’ security, the attacker sent Mitha dozens of food deliveries despite not ordering food and hacked Mitha and the publication’s Instagram and Facebook account. 

One of the planned speakers for the discussion, Tantowi Anwari, who works for the Journalists Association for Diversity (Sejuk) and his wife also received threats.

AJI notes the same pattern of attacks, hacking a person’s social media account, sending anonymous messages and calls on WhatsApp and receiving unexpected food deliveries has been used many times against human rights and media freedom activists in Indonesia. 

AJI said: “AJI urges the authorities to investigate these cases.” 

The IFJ said: “While online intimidation and threatening of journalists is not to journalists, the lack of accountability has resulted in a climate of impunity for digital attacks against journalists. The IFJ demands authorities to conduct an immediate investigation into the incidents and hold the attackers to account.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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