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Journalist in Papua face repression upon mangrove forest destruction reporting

Tabloid Jubi - July 14, 2023

Jayapura, Jubi – Press organizations in Papua, including the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) of Jayapura City, the Indonesian Journalists Association (PWI) of Papua, and the Indonesian Television Journalists Association (IJTI) of Papua, lambasted what was reported to be intimidation against Abdel Gamel Naser, a journalist from Cenderawasih Pos.

The incident occurred while he was covering the case of mangrove forest destruction in the Youtefa Bay Nature Park conservation area in Jayapura City on Tuesday (11/7/2023).

Gamel, as he is commonly known, allegedly faced intimidation from two police officers who were present near the location. The officers approached Gamel and questioned his reasons for photographing the area. Despite explaining that he was a journalist, the officers insisted on deleting the photos, resulting in Gamel deleting three images from his reporting.

"To avoid further conflict so I can continue my reporting elsewhere, I deleted the photos. As I was leaving the location, they issued further threats," Gamel stated in a press release issued by the press organizations on Wednesday, July 12, 2023.

Gamel was among a group of approximately a dozen journalists who were covering the halt of logging and material stockpiling in the mangrove forest area of Youtefa Bay Nature Tourism Park. The halt was carried out by the Papua Forestry and Environment Service, the Papua Natural Resources Conservation Center, and the Papua Police Special Crimes Unit.

According to Gamel, the intimidation occurred while he was capturing images near a location where police lines had been established, and several police personnel happened to be present nearby.

Lucky Ireeuw, chairman of the AJI Jayapura, strongly condemned the alleged intimidation faced by Gamel during his work. Such repressive actions hinder the exercise of press freedom in Papua.

"The intimidation suffered by Gamel obstructs press freedom and violates Law No. 40/1999 on Press," Ireeuw asserted.

He further called on the Papua Police to take decisive action against the officers implicated in the alleged intimidation. "We urge the police to ensure press freedom in Papua," Ireeuw added.

Meanwhile, PWI Papua deputy, Ridwan Madubun strongly condemned the display of arrogance that resulted in the alleged intimidation of his fellow journalist Gamel. Madubun believes such actions are unjustifiable, especially when they occur while journalists are carrying out their responsibilities in the public domain.

He also expressed dismay at the ongoing repressive acts against journalists in Papua. It is important to note that journalists are safeguarded by the law in carrying out their coverage duties to inform the public.

Papua Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Ignatius Beny Ady Prabowo mentioned that efforts have been made within the police institution to educate police personnel about press freedom since their training at the National Police School.

"I have just been made aware of the alleged intimidation against Gamel. Journalists who encounter such incidents can report them to our Internal Division," Prabowo added. (*)

Source: https://en.jubi.id/journalist-in-papua-face-repression-upon-mangrove-forest-destruction-reporting