Thursday, October 25, 2012

Independent Papuan journalist attacked in Indonesian crackdown on protest

A 10-minute Metro TV news feed of Indonesian police shooting at protesters.

JAKARTA GLOBE stringer and reporter Oktovianus Pogau was choked and beaten by Indonesian police as he attempted to report on a West Papuan protest.

Indonesian police opened fire on protesters in Manokwari, West Papua, shooting two and wounding three others — including a Jakarta Globe contributor — in the latest crackdown on pro-independence groups in the restive Melanesian province, reported Pacific Scoop.

The independent West Papua Media reported four people had been shot. Indonesian police denied the shootings, which were graphically videotaped by Metro TV.

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (Seapa) has protested over the assaults against journalists in Indonesia.

Tuesday morning’s West Papua National Committee-sponsored (KNPB) rally began near the State University of Papua (Unipa) in Manokwari, said human rights activist Markus Haluk.

About 300 protesters attempted to march to nearby Borarsi field when police and the Indonesian Military (TNI) blocked their path.

Pogau was videotaping the scene when he was approached by a plainclothes officer and told to leave, according to the Jakarta Globe. When he refused a second officer attacked him from behind.

'Choked my neck'
“[A] policeman in a uniform came and choked my neck while he threatened me and told me to leave the location,” Pogau said.

“I tried to escape and told him that I’m a journalist… but [another] policeman punched me in the face.”

Pogau was pulled from the scene by fellow journalists. He showed the officers his press credentials before the second attack took place.

It was the second assault on journalists in Indonesia in the past week. On October 16, members of the TNI attacked five journalists reporting on a downed military aircraft in Penkanbaru, Riau.

Riau Pos photographer Didik Herwanto was beaten and choked by an officer with the Indonesian Air Force in a widely spread video.

The attack sparked widespread condemnation in Indonesia. Lt. Col. Robert Simanjuntak later apologised.

Pogau is the second Jakarta Globe contributor to be injured on the job while reporting in Papua. Last year, long-time writer Banjir Ambarita was stabbed in Jayapura after reporting on allegations of sexual abuse of female inmates by officers in a Jayapura police detention centre.

Ambarita survived the attack but said the stabbing left him “deeply traumatised” and wary of reporting on government abuse.

In 2011, two journalists working in Papua were killed, according to the Pacific Media Freedom 2011: A status report by the Pacific Media Centre. Eight were kidnapped and 18 others attacked during the course of their work.

Foreign media are banned from reporting in Papua without a special permit. In 2011, only three foreign media outlets were granted approval.

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