Indonesian Government Must End Violence Against Journalists, Activists in Papua

Freedom House is deeply concerned about the intimidation and violence aimed at journalists and human rights defenders in Papua, Indonesia, and calls on the Indonesian government to end the culture of impunity that has allowed the violence to escalate.

On October 23, members of the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB) staged a series of pro-independence demonstrations in cities throughout Papua. At the State University of Papua in Manokwari, Indonesian security forces sought to end the demonstration with a brutal crackdown that reportedly left several protesters dead and dozens injured. During the confrontation, an Indonesian journalist photographing the security forces’ actions was severely beaten by five police officers, despite displaying his press credentials. This incident is the latest in a series of attacks on the press and human rights defenders in Papua, who are increasingly being targeted for their work.

Indonesia is ranked Partly Free in Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press 2012 survey. As a result of the increasingly hostile environment in Papua, a number of human rights defenders have relocated after suffering continued harassment and in some cases receiving death threats. Attacks on journalists and human rights defenders in Papua are rarely investigated or prosecuted. In 2011, two journalists were killed in Papua, eight were kidnapped, and more than a dozen others were attacked. Freedom House strongly condemns this intimidation and violence and calls on the Indonesian government to ensure that all journalists and human rights defenders in Papua receive the rights and protections afforded them under Indonesian law.

Learn more:

Freedom in the World 2012: Indonesia

Freedom of the Press 2012: Indonesia

Freedom on the Net 2012: Indonesia

Countries at the Crossroads 2012: Indonesia

Blog: Freedom at Issue