Police officers obstruct Papuan journalists covering student rally in Jayapura

Members of the police have obstructed three local journalists who covered a protest of Papuan students in front of the Cenderawasih University Auditorium in Jayapura on 23 September 2019. The chairman of the Independent Journalist Alliance in Jayapura, Lucky Ireeuw, stated that the intimidation and obstruction against Hengky Yeimo (Jubi), Benny Mawel (contributor for The Jakarta Post and Jubi) and Ardi Bayage (SuaraPapua.com) were a violation of media freedom as guaranteed under Law 40/1999 on press. The case is also emblematic for the discrimination which ethnic Papuan journalists face, particularly when they cover demonstrations on sensitive issues.

The incident occurred around 7.30 as the three journalists were taking pictures of the students and police officers who had just arrived at the location. Plaincloth officers allegedly pushed the journalists away and prevented them from taking further pictures. One of the officers allegedly insulted Ardi Bayagi, calling him a ‘dog’ while hitting him on the head. The police officers called the journalists provocateurs and the news outlet ‘Jubi’ a provocative news outlet. A supervising police officer named Clief Philipus Duwitd saw the incident but failed to call his men back. A plaincloth officer escorted the journalists away from the university campus where they were allowed to leave (see intro image).