Indonesia: Military deployment in West Papua targets journalists

Over the last month, Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo initiated a military crackdown in West Papua targeting journalists and human rights activists. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, the Alliance of Independent Journalists, Indonesia (AJI) condemns the cycle of violence against journalists that occurs in Papua countries, as was seen by Victor Mambor’s case.

A motorcade on April 26, 2021 transporting the body of general I Gusti Putu Danny Karya Nugraha, who headed Papua's intelligence, after he was killed the day before in a shootout. Credit: Sevianto Pakiding / AFP

In response to escalated tensions escalating in West Papua throughout the last month Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo has increased military presence. In a press briefing held by Widodo on April 26 relating to the death of a senior Indonesian police chief in a shootout with the West Papua National Liberation Army on April 25, Widodo said to “chase and arrest all rebels.” Bambang Soesatyo, chairman of the People’s Consultative Assembly added in his statement “We will discuss human rights matters later.” 

Reports coming out of West Papua note the increase in internet shutdowns and intimidation and attacks on media who do not follow the government line when reporting on the area.   

According to IFJ’s affiliate, the Alliance of Independent Journalists, Indonesia, Victor Mambor a journalist from the West Papua daily, Tabloid Jubi has faced a number of attacks, doxing and threats suspected to be related to his reporting on the political situation and conflict in West Papua. The most recent attack against Mambor was on Wednesday, April 21, in a suspected terrorist attack where his car was vandalised and attacked between 12:00am and 2:00am. The car’s windshield and windows were shattered with graffiti on the doors. 

The Journalists Safety Committee in Indonesia, of which AJI is a member, condemned the terrorist attack against Victor Mambor, and urged police to arrest the terrorists. The committee also requested the Press Council to form an anti-violence task force to investigate the attack and monitor violence against journalists.

The AJI said: "The Victor Mambor case shows that the cycle of violence that occurs in Papua continues. AJI recorded that in the last 20 years, there were 114 instances of violence against journalists in Papua. The Indonesian government must stop all impunity for violence against journalists."

The IFJ said: “Recent tensions and conflict in West Papua highlights the ongoing need for journalism and independent reporting in West Papua to ensure civilians safety and government accountability. The IFJ urges the Indonesian government to respect human rights and the ability of journalists to report independently without interference or intimidation.” 

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

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

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