Journalists in Papua on Edge As Body of Colleague Found

Journalists in Papua on Edge As Body of Colleague Found

, 30 July 2010


The body of Ardiansyah Matra’is, a journalist for Merauke TV, was found in the Gudang Arang River in Merauke, Papua, on Friday morning, two days after he had been declared missing.

Merauke Police Chief Adj. Comr. Joko Prihadi said the body of the missing journalist had been located at about 6:30 a.m. by members of the National Search and Rescue Agency and the police.

The officer said the body had been transported to Merauke General Hospital, but that it was still uncertain whether an autopsy would be performed to help determine a cause of death.

“The victim’s family is reluctant for an autopsy to be performed,” Joko said.

He said residents had found Ardiansyah’s motorcycle and helmet near a bridge in Merauke.

Ardiansyah worked as a stringer for ANTV, a national television network, and as a reporter for Papua’s Rajawali daily before joining Merauke TV.

Jojo, the chief editor of Rajawali, told news portal that journalists in Papua had received death threats in text messages over the past week.

“The SMS messages said that journalists in Papua would be killed and that there would be no action taken by the police or the military,” Jojo said.

“Several journalists filed a report with the Merauke Police over the death threats.”

Jojo speculated the threats were related to the upcoming election for district head in Merauke.

He said one text message read: “To cowardly journalists, never play with fire if you don’t want to be burned. If you still want to make a living on this land, don’t do weird things. We have data on all of you and be prepared for death.”

A spokesman for the Papua Police, Sr. Comr. Wachyono, confirmed complaints had been filed over threatening messages.

“Merauke Police have received reports of SMS threats to journalists and an investigation is ongoing,” Wachyono said.