LBH Pres: Internet Block in Papua Curb Reporters' Access

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Laila Afifa

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  • Papua protesters demonstrate with escort from TNI soldiers at the Timika Indah Roundabout, Mimika, Papua, Wednesday, August 21, 2019. Media estimated thousands of people were involved in the protest, though Dedi Prasetyo, spokesman for Indonesia's national police, said only 50 people had taken part in setting fire to several stalls in the market. The situation had been contained, Prasetyo said, without elaborating. ANTARA FOTO/Jeremias Rahadat

    Papua protesters demonstrate with escort from TNI soldiers at the Timika Indah Roundabout, Mimika, Papua, Wednesday, August 21, 2019. Media estimated thousands of people were involved in the protest, though Dedi Prasetyo, spokesman for Indonesia's national police, said only 50 people had taken part in setting fire to several stalls in the market. The situation had been contained, Prasetyo said, without elaborating. ANTARA FOTO/Jeremias Rahadat

    TEMPO.CO, JakartaThe Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers) urges Communication and Informatics Ministry (Kominfo) to immediately lift the internet blocking policy as it has been applied since Wednesday night, August 21, in Papua and West Papua Province.

    “The attempts taken by Kominfo that throttling back or blocking internet access to prevent the massive spread of hoax are a restriction of public rights to access and gain information,” said LBH Pres director Ade Wahyudin in a written statement, Thursday, August 22.

    The policy also curbs media reporters to obtain information and monitor the situation, says Ade, conveying his concern about the current situation in the two provinces since the information on the latest condition and what is happening there cannot be obtained.

    Ade also highlights the mobilization of security officers from outside the province which is proving that the government prefers to take security approach as the solution. This, he opines, may create worries among certain groups over potential violent acts.

    “All parties will be harmed with the existence of violence amidst conflict. The government should not take security approach in dealing with Papua conflict,” Ade underlined.

    At the same time, Ade sees potential media censorship and intervention during this heated condition. Therefore, LBH Pers reminds both internal and external media that censorship and intervention are considered a criminal act in the Law of Press Article 4(2) in conjunction with Article 18(1).

    He demands journalists and media be brave in voicing the facts in a bid to create an information society and open a chance of justice for the people of Papua. At present, the role of media in this situation should not only put forth peace journalism that setting aside the public just.

    “Because coverage of Papua issues are deemed too sensitive and may trigger new conflicts, so don’t let provocations between the two parties happening,” Ade remarked.

    He then appeals to media companies and journalist fellows to speak out the importance of a non-security approach to the government. “Besides, the media must report accurate information and seek competent and fair speakers.”

    CAESAR AKBAR