Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced over the weekend that his government would allow foreign journalists to report unrestricted from the country's eastern Papuan provinces, breaking a virtual 50-year blackout of international news coverage of the restive region. The announcement raises the prospect of an independent media check on one of Asia's most under-reported civil conflicts between the Indonesian state and Free Papua Movement rebel group.
With more than 50 years of restricted media access, one of the least covered armed conflicts in the world is the long-simmering struggle between Indonesia's military and the secessionist Free Papua Movement. Under Indonesia's seven successive post-independence governments--the early ones led by autocratic strongmen, the recent ones more or less democratically elected--the world has been deprived of details of the persistent low-intensity battle for autonomy playing out in the Papuan provinces.
A sense of optimism seems to be filling the streets of Jakarta after the election of President Joko Widodo, who took office a few weeks ago. Against this backdrop of hope, the Committee to Protect Journalists joined other press freedom and freedom of expression groups for a series of meetings in Indonesia's capital and Bali last week to meet journalists, media advocates, and government ministers.
Training journalists how to better cover gender-based violence can help challenge attitudes that foster sexual attacks. Helping journalists learn personal skills to safely navigate sexual aggression can help prevent them from becoming victims themselves.
Although I refuse to say that I am guilty for violating criminal law for publishing Indonesia Playboy magazine, it never crossed my mind to run away or to try to avoid the two-year prison sentence handed down to me by the Supreme Court. I am a good citizen who respects the law in Indonesia.
On Saturday, October 9, 2010, I went to Jakarta with my lawyer, Todung Mulya Lubis, to be taken into custody and to begin my sentence. This was in compliance with an agreement made between my lawyer and the prosecution, according to which I was to be taken to the prosecutor's office that afternoon by Lubis and the Press Council.
Here's a quick update on the Indonesian Supreme Court's ongoing hearing to review its decision to sentence Playboy Indonesia editor Erwin Arnada to two years in jail for "public indecency." It's a case I've been following closely, because the outcome is an indicator of which direction Indonesia will be moving in the coming years -- toward or away from more media freedom. On September 30, CPJ wrote to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono about the case.
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.