Before he came into office, many had high hopes that President Joko Widodo would be a reformist that would fight for human rights issues and freedom of speech. He further fueled those expectations in May by promising to open up Papua to journalists who had previously been highly restricted from reporting in the troubled region.
But despite those promises, the Indonesian authorities still tightly control access to Papua by journalists, as well as rights monitors. A new report from respected NGO Human Rights Watch, titled “Something to Hide?: Indonesia’s Restrictions on Media Freedom and Rights Monitoring in Papua”, documents the ways the government is blocking access to Papua as well as the government backlash that has taken place since Jokowi’s May announcement. The report is based on interviews with 107 journalists, editors, publishers, and representatives of domestic and international nongovernmental organizations
“Government access restrictions have for far too long made Papua Indonesia’s ‘forbidden island’ for foreign media and rights monitors,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch in a statement regarding the new report. “Blocking media access on overbroad ‘security’ grounds deters foreign news reporting about Papua, raising troubling questions about what the Indonesian government might be trying to hide there.”
You can read the full text of Human Rights Watch’s report right here.