Journalists in Timika and Merauke intimidated

Journalists in Timika and Merauke intimidated
, 16 June 2010

Journalists in Timika receive death threats
[Abridged in translation]

As recently reported, journalists in Jayapura were accused by the chief of police of reporting negative news, creating the impression that the situation in Papua is very unstable.

Now, several journalists in Timika have received death threats, soon after reporting a peaceful demonstration which took place there. The demonstration called for the district chief to step down.

As reported by Markus Makur of The Jakarta Post, hundreds of members of Solidarity for Development Aspirations in Mimika held aloft banners condemning the activities of the district chief of Mimika, with several speeches being made for an hour.

But then, a group of people thought to be from the Red-and-White Brigade grabbed the banners and tore them to shreds. Clashes between the two groups were unavoidable although the police and members of the DPRP of Mimika tried to calm things down.

As the situation was calming down, someone believed to be from the Red-and-White group yelled that they were out the look-out for journalists and approached Hendrikus Welerubun, a journalist from Timika Express, saying: 'Journalists must not report anything about the demonstration, otherwise their office will be set alight and they will be killed.' They made similar threats to journalists from Radar Timika.

When other journalists who were following the demonstration realised that their colleagues had been intimidated, they went to the chief of police of Mimika to report the incident.

Victor Mambor, chairman of the Alliance of Independent Journalists, said that acts of violence and intimidation against journalists were unacceptable. He said that over the past year, the use of verbal violence against journalists had increased; they were coming not only from the state authorities but also from other people He called on the police to take action to prevent a repetition of these incidents.

The perpetrators must be called to account for these threats and acts of terror.,' said Mambor.

He also said that the general public should understanding that the tasks and functions of the press are set down in Law 40/1999. 'Actions by these people in Timika can be described as attempts to hamper journalistic activities and could result two years in jail or a fine of Rp 500 million.

Journalists in Merauke intimidated

Journalists in Merauke were subjected to unacceptable behaviour in the VIP room at Merauke airport. A journalist from ArafuraNews who was intending to report the arrival of the MTQ on Wednesday were violently shoved out of the room. One airport official said roughly: 'Dont try to resist. I'm in charge here.'

On hearing these words, all the journalists, including those who had not themselves faced such abuse, reported the incident to an official of Merauke district administration, Vicky Imkotta.

The official said that there were indeed regulations about using the VIP room.

He said that officials had acted incorrectly but even so, those wanting to use the room should get permission first.