After Jeremy Bally from the Pedalling for Papua campaign had visited political prisoners in Papua, the Jakarta Post had published an article in which they alleged that Bally confirmed good prison conditions and treatment of the prisoners. Bally explained later that he was seriously misquoted. Bally shared his response to what he calls government propaganda.
In the Jakarta Post article Bally was for example falsly quoted as
“They are healthy and have no problems. I’m sure that officers in the prison have treated them well,” Bally told journalists in Jayapura after the visit.
In his editorial response Bally wrote:
Editorial response to The Jakarta Post Article, “Canadian Activist Visits Papuan Political Prisoners” by Nethy Dharma Somba, December 16.
December 17, 2013
On December 16, 2013, I visited Abepura Prison in West Papua to deliver postcards and video bearing messages of support and solidarity to West Papuan political prisoners. The messages were collected throughout the Pedalling for Papua campaign, during which I rode my bicycle 12000 kilometers through 7 countries raising awareness about human rights issues and political imprisonment in West Papua.
On December 16, Nethy Dharma Somba of the Jakarta Post wrote an article about the action at Abepura prison. I was appalled to see how this article explicitly mis-characterizes both me and the action. I am critically misquoted as having said, regarding the political prisoners I met that day, “They are healthy and have no problems. I’m sure that ofﬁcers in the prison have treated them well.”
While it was indeed the case that the prisoners I met that day, who included KNPB General Secretary Victor Yeimo, Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience Filep Karma, and President of the Federated Republic of West Papua Forkorus Yaboisembut, were in good spirits, the situation of them and their colleagues at this prison and other prisons is anything but “free from problems.”
Victor Yeimo was severely beaten with rattan canes upon his arrest, and is currently serving a sentence 3 times longer than was originally reported by his lawyers.
Filep Karma required a lengthy and difﬁcult campaign by Amnesty International and other NGO’s to receive critical medical care. Forkorus Yaboisembut, at 57 years old, was kicked and beaten after being arrested for peaceful actions in 2011.
All of these men, along with the dozens of others at Abepura prison and elsewhere, are in jail for peaceful protest, raising ﬂags, and speaking openly about their political beliefs. The article in question is an insult and offense to these men, as well as all those who risked arrest and deportation to make this action happen.
It is also damaging to the efforts made by Papuans Behind Bars, the Pedalling for Papua campaign, and many other organizations and individuals who stand in solidarity with West Papuans who have sacriﬁced their freedom in the ﬁght for peace and justice in their homeland.
Whether through political motivation or journalistic incompetence, this article stands as an explicit example of Indonesian propaganda in national media.
Pedalling for Papua Campaign
The ICP expects the Jakarta Post, which is otherwise known for its usually careful and critical reporting to correct this mistake.