PMC Multimedia

8 May 2017

VIDEO: Indonesia fails West Papua with media freedom hypocrisy

Al Jazeera’s coverage by Step Vaessen of the Papuan protest at WPFD2017 in Jakarta.

By David Robie
JAKARTA (Cafe Pacific/Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch): Indonesian hospitality was given a rave notice last week for hosting World Press Freedom Day 2017, but it was also given a huge black mark for its “gagging” of free discussion over West Papua violations.

Four days before the WPFD event got under way, prominent Papuan journalist Victor Mambor had warned in the New Internationalist that Indonesian double standards had imposed a silence over West Papua.

Even a Papuan protest outside the Jakarta Conference Centre venue was kept at the margins, ensuring most of the 1300 journalists, media academics and communication policy makers from 90 countries were unaware of the shocking press and human rights violations that continue almost daily in the Melanesian provinces of Papua and West Papua (collectively known as West Papua).

Al Jazeera broadcast the most comprehensive television report from its Jakarta bureau on media freedom and West Papua with both website and The Jakarta Post also carrying reports.

But for the rest, mostly silence.

This was in spite of the brutal attack by police on Yance Wenda, a photographer for the Papuan news website Jubi, on the eve of the WPFD2017.

Wenda was arrested and beaten by police while covering a peaceful demonstration in support of a proposed United Nations referendum on self-determination in Sentani, a suburb of Jayapura, West Papua’s largest city and regional capital.

Global media freedom organisations such as Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) immediately carried reports but this astonishingly didn’t spill over into repercussions at WPFD.

As director of the Pacific Media Centre taking part in the Southeast Asian Consultative Roundtable on a Special Mechanism for the Protection of Safety of Journalists, I raised a plenary question about the “silence” over West Papua violations and got an informative answer from Atnike Sigiro of Forum Asia.

But then back to the silence.

MORE: Read the full David Robie article

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David Robie

Professor, PMC Director

Professor David Robie is an author, journalist and media educator specialising in Asia-Pacific affairs.