Pacific Media Centre Pacific Media Watch Pacific Journalism Review Asia Pacific Report

WEST PAPUA: Journalists protest over reporter beaten up in Freeport mine clash

Citizen journalists in West Papua. Photo:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Item: 7666

By a special correspondent in Timika

AUCKLAND (Pacific Scoop / Pacific Media Watch):  Dozens of journalists have demonstrated in Manokwari to protest in solidarity with a colleague who was allegedly beaten up by workers of Freeport-McMoran during a clash in Timika, Papua, as tension worsens at the giant Grasberg copper mine.

Duma Tato Sanda, a journalist working for Cahaya Papua, suffered from bruises and swelling  in his cheeks, lips and his waist and was punched in the chest.

Sally Pelu, coordinator of the Papuan People’s Solidarity Action for Press Freedom, said:  “Journalists are continually being subjected to acts  of violence and there is no guarantee that we can do our work of  gathering information freely.”

The journalists condemned the violence used against their colleague and called on the DPR, the central legislative council, to support the right of journalists  to conduct their work freely.

The journalists met a member of the DPRP West Papua, Jaxat, who apologised for the fact that many members of the DPRP were absent, because they were involved in other activities.

According to reports, Duma also lost his camera, handphone and motor-bike which were all seized by Freeport workers.

“They beat me, grabbed my camera and took my motorbike,” said Duma.

Trucks burned
When he was attacked he was gathering information about the burning of three trucks belonging to Freeport which had been set on fire by Freeport workers.

The trouble occurred after people heard that three of their colleagues had been shot dead during a demonstration.

“I said that I was a journalist but nevertheless they beat me and threw stones at me.  Luckily, someone came by on a motorbike otherwise I could have been killed from being beaten by so many people.”

He added that he was later chased by about 10 people – “my sandals fell off while some people pelted me with stones”.

Johannes Samuel Nussy, the chairman of the Timika Community of  Journalists, also condemned the acts of violence against Duma and said that another journalist working from Radar Timika, Syahrul was also attacked by Freeport  workers in Gorong-Gorong, Timika and was bruised in his face.

“They beat me because they didn’t want journalists to be there.” he said.

Freeport ‘relationship’
According to  Nussy, some journalists in Timika have formed a relationship with Freeport.

“They [the protesting workers] see the work of journalists as  something threatening. They say we are defending Freeport, which is not true. We hope that the workers trade union can urge their colleagues not to see journalists as a threat.”

Meanwhile, Pacific Scoop editor David Robie, who is director of the Pacific Media Centre, today spoke to Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat about the threats to media in West Papua.

A new Pacific media freedom report by the centre’s Pacific Journalism Review says repression in the province has now also reached the news media.

It adds that violence against journalists in West Papua has replaced censorship in Fiji as the most urgent media freedom issue in the region.

“We made a particular feature of West Papua, although, of course, there are major sections in the report that deal elsewhere with Fiji and Vanuatu, in particular, that are ongoing freedom concerns,” Dr Robie said.

The report was co-authored by Pacific Media Watch editor Alex Perrottet and Dr Robie with assistance by West Papua Media’s editor Nick Chesterfield and other journalists, including Giff Johnson, Bob Howarth and Nick Maclellan.

Source: The alternative Papuan tabloid and news portal Jubi.

PJR Pacific media freedom report on West Papua

West Papua new Pacific media black spot - RA's Pacific Beat:

Journalists beware, says new media freedom report - Radio NZI

West Papua tops Pacific media violations - Australia Network News

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Pacific Media Watch

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Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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