PFF, Rarotonga, COOK ISLANDS -- Pacific Freedom Forum members condemn the blatant stabbing of an investigative journalist in west Papua and are joining ongoing calls for Indonesian authorities to investigate a series of attacks against news media.
Investigative reporter Banjir Ambarita exposed police
officers in a week long pack rape of a 15 year old girl. He
was stabbed and is in intensive care.
"A climate of impunity against journalism will not become a reality across a region watchful as it is widespread," warns PFF chair Susuve Laumaea.
Banjir, a freelance reporter and contributor to the Jakarta Globe, was attacked in Jayapura Thursday 3 March 1am local time by two men riding his motorcycle home shortly after midnight last week. He was stabbed twice in the chest near his shoulder, and once in the stomach, before attackers sped off.
The attack comes on top of five other attacks on news media in Papua this year alone, notes Laumaea.
One of Banjir's recent stories had been about a woman detainee forced to give oral sex to three officers, following on from an earlier exposing days of pack rape of an underage girl by other officers, who locked the 15 year old in a room for a week.
Laumaea said the stabbing and sexual assaults reinforced an impression police, security forces and other linked interests were "out of control."
"An inability to enforce rule of law within its own judiciary strengthens questions surrounding the credibility and capacity of Indonesia to properly administer a culturally distinct area and its indigenous people," said the PFF chair from Port Moresby.
Laumaea expressed "cautious optimism" for due process with news of a "rare" resignation by the local police chief.
However it is too little, too late, he said.
"Accountability for Papua people victim to an extensively documented history of human rights abuses is overdue, and PFF backs criticism from bodies like Amnesty International against a climate of impunity," said Laumaea.
From American Samoa, co-chair Monica Miller praised the efforts of colleagues in Jayapura who raised US$1,747 towards hospital costs.
"This represents 15.5 million Rupiah, roughly 12 months salary, a huge amount to fundraise in what must be enormously difficult circumstances, uniting journalists and other newsroom workers in Papua against injustice."
A fundraising coordinator has estimated surgery costs alone may be as high as 40m Rupiah.
Miller also praised news media in Papua for their courage.
"Unlike cousins and colleagues to their east, newsroom workers in Papua face daily threats against the freedoms we take for granted - freedom of the press really is a life or death issue in parts of Melanesia."-- ENDS
9 hours ago - ... million (US$1767) to care for fellow journalist Banjir Ambarita, who was hospitalized after he . ... Papua journalists raise money for injured reporter ...