End the violence against Papuan journalists: Oktovianus Pogau

West Papua Media Alerts


A statement issued by Pantau Foundation and Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)

Jakarta (23 October 2012):- Police today attacked a journalist covering a rally organised by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) in Manokwari in West Papua. Oktovianus Pogau, a reporter with Suara Papua and a contributor to the Yayasan Pantau, was beaten by five policemen while trying to take pictures of police use of excessive violence against the KNPB demonstrators in front of the State University of Papua, Manokwari. Pogau had displayed his press card, but some police did not stop the beating. He sustained injuries to his face.

The security forces had attempted to stop the rally but the KNPB activists went on with the demonstrations.

In Jayapura, police dispersed thousands of demonstrators using the water cannon and tear gas. In Manokwari, five people were reportedly shot but it is still not clear their conditions.

In 2011, two journalists were killed in Papua, eight were kidnapped and 18 attacked. Foreign journalists are required to apply for special permits to enter and cover stories in Papua since Indonesia took over the administration of West Papua in 1963. Only three news organizations, including BBC, obtained the permits last year.

Pantau Foundation and the Southeast Asian Press Alliance condemn the attacks against the media, especially in Papua where activists, human rights defenders and journalists are frequently targeted for their work. Since October, two veteran human rights defenders, respectively from Wamena and Jayapura, have moved out of Papua due to serious threats against them.

We call on the police to:

1. Respect the rights of citizens to freedom of expression;

2. Ensure the safety of Oktovianus Pugao;

3. Stop all forms of violence against journalists;

4. Arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of violence.

We also call on the Indonesian government to:

1. Open up Papua to international journalists and human rights monitors; and

2. Guarantee the rights of all journalists working in West Papua to ensure they can work free of violence, hindrance or intimidation from any members of the security forces