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Media in Papua ‘are not allowed to be free’ because of self-determination demand



A campaign poster on press freedom in West Papua at Papua Side Event in Century Park Hotel, Jakarta April 30 – Jubi/Alves F

Jakarta, Jubi – Space for freedom of expression, especially for those who want to campaign for the right to self-determination or separatist issues in Papua, is deliberately limited. As a result all expression related to it is prohibited, repressed, or to be criminalized by application of the articles of treason.

This has direct implications for the restrictions on access to the press in and to Papua by foreign and local journalists, both for those who want to cover the issue and verify what is happening on the ground.

Executive Director of Amnesty International Indonesia Representative, Usman Hamid made the statement in a public discussion of Papua Side Event related to press freedom in West Papua at Century Park Hotel, Jakarta, Tuesday May 2 2017.

“The separatist discourse is one of the warmest topics in Indonesia, and of course Papua is in the spotlight. Indonesia has never compromised the issue since Soekarno era to post Soeharto. All related expressions are prohibited and repressed, or criminalized under the article,” said Usman Hamid.

He explained that Papua once had experienced a “spring” of freedom of expression in the era of Abdulrahman Wahid (Gusdur) government, but did not last long after Megawati served and followed by SBY.

In the era of Joko Widodo, there was a fresh breeze to open space for journalist’s access, but the reality on the field showed differently.

“Under Jokowi today, the reality in the field is different from the promises and statements. What is happening now is that “anyone van speaks about Papua as long as they don’t damage Indonesia reputation, ” said Usman.

On May 10, 2015 in an interview with Al Jazeera, President Joko Widodo once stated that he has ordered all parties in Papua, including the military and police to open access for foreign journalists, including removing special procedures or ‘clearing house’ (a special procedure of coverage for foreign journalists).

Restriction by Military territorial command

Usman noted there are some restrictions that repel freedom of expression in Papua. It takes form of access restrictions (media), content restrictions, blocking and manipulation of information/news.

“The restriction of the content is used as a method to neutralize social media activities that are considered harmful to the country. Website blocking occurred since SBY, there were four (websites) in his era and added about ten (websites) recently. Even the past few years began to develop groups that are believed to be ‘artificial military/intelligence’ that do cyber bully against the pro-self determination online activities,” he said.

After working hard, Usman claimed to have successfully discussed the matter with the Ministry of Communications and Information (Kominfo) until finally they acknowledge that the blocking was at the request of Indonesian military.

“In this case is the KODAM (Teritorial Military Command) in Papua. So it is not through court, or through other legal mechanisms to justify the blocking,” Usman said.

Particularly with regard to restrictions on Papua news portal, Usman sees it as politically charged, “the most frequent visit to the website is from the Ministry of Defense, meaning they are monitoring the website constantly,” he said.

International pressure

Although restricted in such a way, the expression and news related to issues of self-determination and human rights violations in Papua are increasingly creative in foreign media.

David Robie, Director of Pacific Media Center (PMC) and university lecturer in Auckland, New Zealand at the Papua Side Event’s discussion showed several creative artistic campaigns through online media and social media on West Papua issues.

“The West Papua creative campaign is conducted by diasporas (Papuans living abroad) and solidarity in the Pacific. These brought a lot of information to the public abroad,” said the journalist who has been active across the globe for more than 40 years.

It makes international pressure increasing. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on May 2 condemned the Indonesian government’s ‘double game’ attitude which on one hand hosted the WFPD 2017, but on the other hand continued violations of journalist’s freedom of rights in Papua.

The RSF’s criticism was related to the violence against Jubi journalist Yance Wenda by the Jayapura Resort Police on May 1.

“We strongly condemn police violence against Yance Wenda, and we call for investigations of the perpetrators and their superiors who have encouraged the brutality, and brought the case to justice,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, head of the RSF Asia-Pacific.(*)

Reporter              :  Zely Ariane


The story of illegal logging from the forests of Papua



Illegal timbers – an illustration.

Jayapura, Jubi – Tempo journalist Avit Hidayat shared his experience in doing an investigation about the circulation of illegal timbers from Papua’s forest as a resource person for the discussion about “ Papua’s Forest and Logging Disputes”.

Auriga Nusantara, Eyes on the Forest, Tempo Institute, Free Press Unlimited, and Tempo Media Grup held this forum in Jakarta, Monday, 28 January 2019 and attended by other resource persons, such as Laode M. Syarif (KPK commissionaire), Rasio Ridho Sani (Gakkum-KLHK), Hilman Nugroho (PHPL-KLHK) Muhamad Kosar (JPIK), Timotius Murib (Majelis Rakyat Papua) and Papuan stakeholders from indigenous peoples, Papuan Parliament and Papua Provincial Forestry Office.

In the discussion, Avit said it is essential for the public to know about the situation in Papua. “The tropical forests in Papua are the last (forests) in Indonesia, while the Merbau wood which is the Papuan endemic trees have been becoming the target of the international market,” he said. 

Furthermore, Avid said he conducted the investigation in many different places and interviewed many resource persons; and in Papua, the Tempo team went further to the logging sites. There, they witnessed how the workers who come from other regions carried out the illegal logging activity. They also met transporters, woodmasters, drivers, and logging company staffs.

“And the most important thing is we met the supplier. The supplier is a mediator of the logging companies who play a role to bargain with ‘ondo’—the tribal chief–for compensation. For example, if in a village there are common indigenous lands, the supplier comes to measuring the areas, and give payment to indigenous peoples.”

In their investigation, the Tempo team also met the owners of a logging company who later admitted about the illegal logging activity.  However, they called it the unregistered community logging.

Meanwhile, in Aroba Sub-district of Teluk Bintuni, Papua Barat, the team went to the forest areas of the company who received the Business License for the Utilization of Natural Forest and Timber Product (IUPHHK-HA) that formerly known as a Forest Concession Permit (HPH). There, the team found the manipulation of a wood barcode. For instance, the barcode for ketapang wood is used for Merbau wood.

Moreover, the team also investigated the primary industry in Papua, Surabaya, Lumajang, Gresik by tracing the distribution of logs. Here, they found another finding, namely the fake transport data and officials’ involvement, whereas the illegal retribution practice has also become their another concern.

In their journey from Sarmi to Jayapura Municipality, the team discovered 25 retribution posts that consist of the indigenous institution, police (military) and Forestry Office. “This is the fact that we found, but I couldn’t capture it because it was too risky. We even witness a military truck used to transport the logs.”

Furthermore, the Tempo team met the export logging companies and found those companies able to export up to 6,000-meter cubic annually, while based on the Forest Product Information Management System (SIPUH), they only allowed to export around 100-meter cubic.

“In Surabaya, we went to a barge and talked with an officer. He said not all logs are given barcode. A few logging companies intentionally inserted non-barcode logs or illegal logs in there. They are mostly the HPH holders, and they even put the timbers between the logs.”

However, all these findings did not include in the audit industry report registered in the Timber Legality and Verification System Legality and Verification System (SVLK) which consist of the Assessment Agency for Sustainable Forest Production Management (LP-PHPL) and Timber Verification Agency (LV-LK). Both agencies are responsible for assessing the sustainable forest product management and verify the legality aspect of timber based on the system and standards set by the government.

“We also got the information about the involvement of LV-LK and LP-PHPL, which means they play around with such companies and culprits from the forestry office. I think the KPK has identified these cases.”

In the meantime, a resource person from the National Accreditation Committee (KAN) acknowledged that there were bribery practices in the LV-LK. The audit report had often finished before the field assessment.

Meanwhile, the participants appreciated the findings of Tempo’s investigation. They expected the government to find a solution immediately, whether it’s a regulation or supervision and law enforcement.

On the other hand, a representative of LV-LK objected this report regarding the bribery practices in his institution. But Avit said until now none of the resource persons withdrew their statements and opposed the result of the team’s investigation.

Meanwhile, Agung Wijaya, Avit’s editor for this covered story, said he was worried about Avit’s safety during the investigation. But finally, this report was completed and published.

He further said Tempo had traced the case of illegal logging since 2017. Thus, publishing the investigation report becomes a moral burden for Tempo. Therefore Tempo will continue to monitor this issue and welcome other stakeholders who attended this forum for further discussion.

Through this coverage, Tempo attempted to look the case thoroughly even though it might not give a solution because the solution is actually in the hand of all of you (who come to this forum).” (*)


Reporter: Timoteus Marten

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Indonesian military to complete Trans-Papua Highway



Indonesian soldiers participate in a major military jungle warfare exercise in Poso, in central Sulawesi island, on March 31, 2015. -Photo: AFP

Papua, Jubi – Officials working on a troubled road project in Papua say Indonesia’s military will complete the job this year.

In December, at least 16 Indonesians working on the Trans-Papua Highway in Nduga province were massacred by fighters from the West Papua Liberation Army.

The project was put on hold with the military saying it would take over work on the 4000 kilometre highway.

Combat engineers will reportedly carry out the construction, with hundreds of extra security personnel deployed to the area.

Detik News reports a military battalion has been assigned to the building of the project’s remaining 16 bridges.

Indonesian army engineers had already been working on the Trans-Papua Highway project for a number of years.

Military involvement in the project was cited by the Liberation Army as a central reason for killing the road workers, who were suspected of being soldiers. (*)



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Indonesian soldier dead after attack at Papua airport



Members of the Indonesian Army in Papua. -Photo: AFP

Papua, Jubi – Indonesia’s military has evacuated the body of a soldier killed at an airport in Papua’s Highlands on Monday.

Xinhua reported that gunmen shot at an arriving aircraft carrying soldiers at Mapenduma airport of Nduga district, leaving one soldier dead.

Military spokesman Colonel Muhammad Aidi said when the plane was about to land, it was shot at, and soldiers who were guarding the airport shot back, triggering gunfire exchange.

He said the gunmen retreated and escaped to the forest and the plane landed.

Tempo reported that two soldiers were shot, and hospitalised, with one dying later.

The soldier’s body has been evacuated to Papua’s provincial capital Jayapura,

He is the latest apparent victim in the Highlands conflict between guerilla forces of the West Papua Liberation Army and Indonesian security forces that intensified last year. (*)



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