Indonesian editor dead under suspicious circumstances

New York, December 17, 2010–The Committee to Protect Journalists joins with Indonesian journalist groups in calling for a full and vigorous investigation into the death of an editor on Kisar, one of the eastern Maluku Islands. Alfrets Mirulewan, chief editor of the Pelangi Weekly, was found with bruises on much of his body at 3 a.m. today, according to Indonesian media reports. He had been missing since Tuesday night.

“Given the circumstances of his death, there is reason to suspect Alfrets Mirulewan could have been killed for his work. Indonesia is earning a bad reputation as a place where journalists can be killed with impunity,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator.

Mirulewan’s body was discovered on a beach, according to The Jakarta Globe. Insany Syahbarwaty, a coordinator for the Maluku Media Center, a local support group, told The Globe that Mirulewan had been looking into allegations of unlawful fuel sales. Mirulewan was working on the story with a colleague from another local publication when the two became separated while following a fuel truck, Syahbarwaty said.

Mirulewan had also covered recent local elections in the remote area, The Jakarta Post said. The Globe reported that the Indonesian Press Council, the Alliance of Independent Journalists, the Indonesian Journalists Association, and the Maluku Media Center are setting up a team to look into Mirulewan’s death.

Two Indonesian television journalists were killed earlier this year, but there have been no prosecutions in their cases. In August, Ridwan Salamun, a videographer and reporter for Sun TV was found beaten, also in Malukus. Three weeks earlier, Ardiansyah Matra’is, of the local broadcaster Merauke TV was killed in Merauke, a small town on the southern tip of Papua province.

CPJ research shows that about 90 percent of journalists killed worldwide are local reporters, and that about 90 percent of all journalist killings go unsolved.