Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Govt must step up investigation into journalist deaths in Indonesia: PFF

Pacific Freedom Forum, Rarotonga-- The Pacific Freedom Forum is expressing grave concern about the deaths of three colleagues in two Indonesia provinces in recent weeks.
“Indonesia needs to see these deaths as a wake up call,” says PFF chair Susuve Laumaea.
In particular, PFF joins international groups like the International Federation of Journalists, Reporters Sans Frontiers, and UNESCO in condemning the deaths and calling for investigations by Jakarta.
"Indonesia's government must ensure enough resources are given to independently investigate recent deaths of the three journalists in West Papua and Maluku," says Laumaea, based in Papua New Guinea.
Deaths of environmental journalists Ardiansyah Matra’is and Muhammad Syaifulla in Papua were followed by that of TV reporter, Ridwan Salamun after filming a confrontation between villagers in Maluku.
PFF says the deaths cannot be treated as singular events.
They take place against a background of decades of extensively documented human rights abuses in Indonesia, where Papua journalists have received numerous death threats for uncovering illegal logging, mining and environmental destruction.
From Pagopago, co-chair Monica Miller says PFF members “join our colleagues and cousins in west Papua in their sadness and loss.”
“All three deaths are the more serious, stemming from their professional duties with the first two receiving multiple death threats,” she says.
“Concerns over an alleged lack of independent investigation are very strong on the ground,” says Miller, noting a “boycott” by Jayapura media.
“Local journalists boycotting police stories sends a powerful message to the international community: human rights are breaking apart in a vital region worth many billions to Indonesia and the global economy.”
PFF members strongly support the right of West Papua media to protest alleged cause of death in their colleagues disappearance, as well as express concerns over threats against news media and others.
“This is freedom of speech, plain and simple” says Miller.-- ENDS

Country background:
“West Papua” is common media reference to distinguish the Indonesian province from Papua New Guinea, the other half of this large Melanesian island. Now officially known as “Papua”, the western half was changed from West New Guinea (1962–63), West Irian (1963–73), Irian Jaya (1973–2001), and Papua (2002–2003). Districts within Papua are also routinely redrawn and renamed by Indonesian authorities.

CONTACT: PFF interim Chair Susuve Laumaea | Sunday Chronicle Newspaper | Papua New Guinea Mobile: 675-684 5168 | Office: 675-321-7040 | Email: susuve.laumaea@interoil.com PFF interim co-Chair Monica Miller | KHJ Radio | American Samoa Mob 684 258-4197 | Office 684 633-7793 | Email: monica@khjradio.com 

The Pacific Freedom Forum are a regional and global online network of Pacific media colleagues, with the specific intent of raising awareness and advocacy of the right of Pacific people to enjoy freedom of expression and be served by a free and independent media. We believe in the critical and basic link between these freedoms, and the vision of democratic and participatory governance pledged by our leaders in their endorsement of the Pacific Plan and other commitments to good governance. In support of the above, our key focus is monitoring threats to media freedom and bringing issues of concern to the attention of the wider regional and international community.

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