Journalists attacked in Papua as Indonesia hosts WPFD

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI) express concerns for the attack on a journalist in Papua in Indonesia on May 1, 2017. The IFJ calls on the Indonesia government to take a strong stand against the press freedom violations in Papua as it hosts World Press Freedom Day. On May 1, Papuan journalist Yance Wenda was beaten by police and arrested as he covered a protest in Sentani. Wenda told that he was released after four hours detention with a swollen back and bloodied lip. Wenda, who was covering the protest for Papuan new site Jubi, said that he was about to get his press card out when the police started attacking him with their fists and guns. The protest Wenda was covering was organized by the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB), a local organisation calling for a referendum on Papua and West Papua independence or remaining in Indonesia. Jayapura police chief, Gustav Urbinas confirmed Wenda’s arrest but denied the assault by officers. He told BenarNews that “There were no injuries, After he was arrested he claimed to be a journalist, but there was no journalist ID card, he brought only a scanned assignment letter.” The situation for journalists in Papua continues to be an area for concern for the IFJ. According to AJI Jayapura, since 2012 there have been at least 65 cases of violence and intimidation against journalists in Papua and West Papua, Indonesia’s most-eastern provinces. Last week, reports stated that three Papuan journalists received death threats from unidentified people while covering a hearing on an electoral dispute at the Wamena District Court in Jayawijaya. One of the journalists, Richardo Hutahaean, said they were also briefly detained by police. “Violence should not be used to restrict journalistic activities,” Fabio Lopez Dacosta, the coordinator of AJI of Jayapura said. The IFJ said: “The fact that Indonesia is hosting more than 1,500 journalists and activists to celebrate World Press Freedom Day does not excuse the continued deteoriation of press freedom in Papua and West Papua. Efforts should be made across the Indonesian archipelago to ensure press freedom is uniform for all journalists. We call for an immediate investigation into the incident.” See the statement from AJI on the press freedom violations in Papua here.  

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