However, the absence of an official minder is no guarantee that foreign correspondents will not encounter surveillance, harassment, or intimidation by plainclothes or uniformed security forces and intelligence personnel while reporting in Papua. Another former Jakarta-based foreign correspondent, who travelled to Papua without an access permit on account of the difficulties in securing official permission, told Human Rights Watch how plainclothes security personnel followed him while he was doing interviews in Timika on for a business-related story.
A former Jakarta-based foreign correspondent from , who received official permission to travel to Papua in September to do a package of stories on social and political conditions there, described the police response after he and his television crew had filmed a pro-Papuan independence ceremony about an hour outside of the Papua provincial capital of Jayapura:. Government surveillance of foreign correspondents in Papua also extends to the information on their laptop computers.
The onerous access restrictions and the risks of surveillance, harassment, and intimidation by security forces tasked to monitor the movements of known foreign correspondents prompts some journalists to enter Papua without official entry permits. A former Jakarta-based foreign correspondent, who made two such unaccredited reporting trips in and , was able to freely report on a range of social, political, and economic topics without interference or reprisal. One journalist went to Papua in without a permit, seeking to report on a strike at the Freeport mine complex in Timika.
He told Human Rights Watch:. Other journalists who have entered Papua without the appropriate travel document have been arrested, and deported. In September , police in Papua arrested, interrogated, and subsequently expelled a five-person Australia Channel Seven television crew for attempting to report without accreditation. Ross Tapsell, who chronicled decades of Papua access restrictions on foreign media in his book By-Lines, Balibo, Bali Bombings: Australian Journalists in Indonesia , echoed concerns about the serious occupational hazards facing local reporters in Papua:.
Papuan journalists told Human Rights Watch that harassment and intimidation by Indonesian security forces is routine. Although that harassment and intimidation is often via anonymous text messages and phone calls, many journalists say there is evidence that elements of the security forces are responsible. Duma Tato Sando, the managing editor at Cahaya Papua , a small daily newspaper in Manokwari, said that security force personnel will often pressure him to kill stories that document human rights abuses.
Journalists in Papua also report harassment and intimidation by security forces as a reprisal for unflattering media coverage. Veronica Asso, a Wamena-based blogger, reported on what she considered to be a suspicious roadside checkpoint she encountered in downtown Wamena on May 19, The roadblock was manned by two men wearing shorts claiming to be police officers. She said:. A threat of violence from a State Intelligence Agency BIN officer in prompted Jo Kelwulan, then chief editor of Tabloid Noken , a newspaper owned by the Papuan Customary Council, to end publication of his popular weekly newspaper.
Kelwulan shuttered Tabloid Noken in November Kelwulan said:. Octavianus Danunan, publisher and chief editor of Radar Timika , an Indonesian newspaper owned by the Jawa Pos group in Surabaya, described threats of physical violence to himself, his staff, and his newspaper facilities as a constant worry. He said there were multiple sources of serious harassment and intimidation:. Security forces are not the only sources of intimidation and harassment against journalists in Papua. KNPB organizers of a pro-independence protest in Manokwari in attempted to prohibit media coverage of their event and reportedly tried to assault a Radio Sorong journalist at the scene.
I am having problems from both [pro-independence and pro-government] sides. In recent years, several Papuan journalists have died violently in circumstances that raise questions about possible complicity by economic interests threatened by their reporting, security forces, or some combination of both. Patrix Barumbun Tandirerung, the deputy publisher of the Cahaya Papua , said violence against his reporters from a variety of sources  is a constant concern:.
Some attacks by government officials on journalists in Papua are notable for their brazen nature. On May 9, the regent of Biak Numfor, Thomas Ondy, physically attacked Fiktor Palembangan, a journalist with the Cenderawasih Pos newspaper in Jayapura, a subsidiary of the Surabaya-based Jawa Pos group that is generally viewed as closely aligned with the Indonesian government.
Journalists who cover public protests are particularly vulnerable to assaults by both uniform and plainclothes security forces. Octavianus Pogau, chief editor of the pro-independence Suara Papua news portal in Jayapura, described being assaulted by officers while covering a KNPB protest in Manokwari in Pogau said that social media coverage of his assault prompted an apology by the Manokwari police chief.
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Pogau says he did not file charges against his attackers due to his unfamiliarity with the procedures of doing so and also because physical signs of his injuries had healed by the time he had a medical examination. The security forces in Papua have also targeted female journalists. Both Pogau and Wayar assert that their ethnic identity as native Papuans is the source of reflexive suspicion and aggression by non-Papuan security forces who seek to interfere with their reporting activities.
Journalists who attempt to cover incidents at or near the massive Freeport mine complex in Timika have been subjected to violence by Freeport personnel while security forces allegedly stood aside. Duma Tato Sanda, the managing editor of the aforementioned Cahaya Papua daily newspaper in Manokwari, narrowly escaped serious injury when striking Freeport workers attacked him in Timika in October The harassment, intimidation, and violence faced by journalists in Papua from multiple sources encourages a pernicious form of self-censorship, as reporters avoid coverage of topics, groups, and individuals that might elicit violent reprisals.
Jo Kelwulun, chief editor of the Manokwari Express in Manokwari, describes self-censorship by journalists in Papua as an essential survival skill:. Their sources are always government officials, police officers or military officers. Irwanto Tenggowijaya, the owner of the Timika Express , a small pro-military newspaper in Timika closely associated with Timorese migrants, described how a recent story his paper ran on police corruption linked to a local illegal gambling den fueled a furious response from a senior local police official.
The Indonesian government and security forces pay journalists in Papua to provide them with information and favorable media coverage. They further undermine media freedom in Papua by placing paid agents to work undercover as journalists for local media companies. Those agents act as informers within media companies and produce news that is slanted to fit the government narrative of the situation in Papua. Impartial news reporting in Indonesia has long been marred by journalists who take bribes or other payments at the expense of journalistic integrity.
Octavianus Danunan, publisher and chief editor of the Papua daily newspaper Radar Timika , a subsidiary of the Jawa Pos Group, described the journalist-informant system in Papua as part of an elaborate public relations strategy by government officials and security force officers seeking positive media coverage in exchange for cash-filled envelopes:.
In Papua, this practice extends to the existence of a cohort of security force personnel specifically assigned to infiltrate local media organizations by commanding officers. The Pacific Journalism Review has described such tactics as ruinous for efforts to establish Papua media outlets that can operate without direct editorial interference by government officials and elements of the security forces:. When Mambor confronted the staff member with that revelation, he openly admitted that his superior officer at the Papua police had assigned him to work at the newspaper.
The police informant told Mambor that his duties included filing a daily report on what he had seen and heard at the paper each day, including the content of editorial meetings. Jo Kelwulan, the editor who closed Tabloid Noken and later set up the daily Manokwari Express in Manokwari, described the existence of paid informants working as journalists as an unavoidable hazard of doing journalism in Papua.
Octavianus Pogau of Suara Papua said the existence of those paid informers who manipulate news coverage does irreparable harm to the awareness of Indonesians outside of Papua about the often dire realities of rule of law and human rights in the region:.
The Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims that it applies the same requirements and restrictions to international nongovernmental organizations INGOs seeking to operate in Papua as it does to INGOs working elsewhere in the country.
INGO personnel who get official permission to visit Papua risk surveillance similar to that experienced by foreign correspondents. It makes for some funny stories, but no real harm done. Groups that provide funding or document poor living conditions or human rights abuses are perceived as assisting the separatist movement and working to discredit Indonesia in the international community.
An international aid worker who has worked in Papua said that INGOs seeking to establish operations in Papua come under intense government scrutiny:. Indonesian foreign ministry spokesperson Teuku Faizasyah initially denied that the closure had anything to do with the ICRC's visits to Papuan prisons, attributing it to a regulatory measure.
In August , the Indonesian government banned the Dutch international aid organization Cordaid from Papua, asserting among other things that the organization had assisted Papua pro-independence activists. Peace Brigades International PBI , an international organization that promotes nonviolence and human rights protection in conflict areas, closed its Papua operations in January Indonesian government restrictions on Papua access extend to UN personnel.
As La Rue phrased it, his request to the Indonesian Mission in Geneva for an official visit from October-November prompted an initially positive response, but ultimately was rejected due to his insistence that the authorities allow him to visit Papua: . Foreign academics attempting to do research in Papua have also been targets of Indonesian government surveillance, harassment, and deportation.
In at least two instances documented by Human Rights Watch, the Indonesian government has imposed visa bans on Australian academics for their contact in Australia with pro-Papuan independence groups. Anthropologist S. In effect, almost all official applications to conduct research [there] are rejected by Jakarta. Damien Kingsbury, a professor at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Deakin University in Melbourne, also came under surveillance by security forces in Papua during a research trip to the region in Regardless, the Indonesian government placed Burchill on an Indonesia visa blacklist for giving public talks to pro-Papuan independence groups in at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in I have no reason to believe that the ban has been removed in my case.
Freedom of the media is a fundamental principle of international human rights law. The media plays a crucial role in exposing human rights violations, misuse of power, corporate malfeasance, wartime abuses, and health and environmental issues, thus helping to ensure that the public is informed, that abuses are halted, that criminal perpetrators face justice, and that victims can seek redress. This implies a free press and other media able to comment on public issues without censorship or restraint and to inform public opinion.
Armed secession movements such as the Free Papua Movement OPM can pose legitimate national security concerns and in limited circumstances justify restrictions on free speech. With respect to restrictions on the freedom of movement of journalists, including foreign journalists, the Human Rights Committee has stated that:. In embattled areas of Papua where the laws of armed conflict apply, the authorities may restrict freedom of movement of journalists and other civilians for specific security reasons and for a limited period of time, but broad and open-ended restrictions are not permissible.
Concerning nongovernmental organizations, the ICCPR upholds the rights to freedom of association and peaceful assembly, as well as expression. All persons, including journalists and members of nongovernmental organizations, also have the right to freedom of movement, which likewise can only be restricted for reasons of national security as a matter of law and where strictly necessary for a legitimate state purpose.
The Johannesburg Principles on National Security, Freedom of Expression, and Access to Information elaborate widely accepted standards on national security restrictions. With respect to access to restricted areas by journalists and human rights groups, principle 19 provides that:.
In the cases detailed in this report, the government did not demonstrate a lawful basis for the restrictions on speech or a proportionate response that would achieve a legitimate objective, the longstanding and overbroad restrictions on access to Papua by foreign journalists, INGO representatives and other foreign observers to Papua do not meet these international standards. Human Rights Watch is an independent, nongovernmental organization that investigates and reports on violations of international human rights law in more than 90 countries. Since the late s, Human Rights Watch has worked on human rights issues in Indonesia and provided input to the Indonesian government.
As Indonesia is a party to the core international human rights treaties, we urge you to ensure that it lives up to its international legal obligations.
These abuses include violations international standard of media freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of association. Official minders routinely shadow journalists who do get official permission, strictly controlling their movements and access to people they want to interview. Human Rights Watch was encouraged by your May 10 announcement that the government would lift those restrictions. But three months later, your government has yet to publicly issue any specific written directive on the lifting of access restrictions on accredited Indonesia-based accredited foreign correspondents to Papua and West Papua.
We are also concerned that you have not mentioned the need to loosen ongoing restrictions on the operations of international nongovernmental organizations and access by their staff to Papua and West Papua.
But we note that the National Police are continuing to require accredited Indonesia-based foreign correspondents to apply for official travel permits, or surat jalan to report from Papua. There are also serious questions about the degree to which Papuan security forces will respect the right of foreign media to freely operate in Papua.
On May 29, General Moeldoko, then commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces, stated that foreign media wishing to visit Papua would continue to require special official permission. We are currently preparing a report that documents abuses of media freedom and the activities of international nongovernmental organizations and other foreign observers in Papua both before and after your May 10 announcement.