Papuan journalist arrested as world calls for Papua press freedom

8 May 2015
Journalist Yohanes Kuayo arrested in Nabire

According to a report received from Majalah Selengkah, a Papuan independent news site, their journalist Yohanes Kuayo was arrested in Nabire just one day after global protests around the world called on Indonesia to respect media freedoms in Papua and open the region for foreign journalists, humanitarian NGOs and human rights observers. The full report from Majalah Selengkah is published below.

Chronology of the arrest of Majalah Selengkah journalist Yohanes Kuayo by Papua regional police taskforce team and Nabire Police Station Special Team, while Yohanes was covering events at Nabire General Hospital, Thursday 30 April 2015

Thursday, 30 April 2015, at 11: 00 western Indonesia time, the Nabire and Dogiyai correspondent for, Yohanes Kuayo, went to Nabire General Hospital to cover the shooting of Leonardus Magai Yogi, Commander of the National Liberation Army -Free Papua Movement (Tentara Pembebasan Nasional-Organisasi  Papua Merdeka, TPN-OPM), and two others, who were shot during an exchange of fire with the Papua regional police taskforce team (Tim Satgas Polda Papua) and the Nabire police Special Team (Tim Khusus Polres Nabire) at Sanoba village, Nabire district on Thursday (30/04/2015), at 10:40 local time.

On arriving at the hospital, various other journalists including Rein Windesi from Metro TV and Firdaus from TV ONE were already there. Yohanes asked for an explanation from the Commander of the Nabire Police Station Special Team but was refused, on the basis that the police were not yet able to provide information to anybody. Following this Yohanes entered the hospital to collect data, however he was barred from entering.

After about 30 minutes, Yohanes saw that lots of people were coming in and out of the hospital. He went in too in order to obtain information about the victims of the shooting. Once inside, he still couldn’t get any information. He was thirsty so he left the hospital to buy a drink. At this point the area in front of the hospital was being guarded extremely tightly.

Yohanes didn’t get chance to buy a drink and soon returned to the hospital, as he sensed that somebody was tailing him. After entering the hospital, Yohanes found a doctor in the medical records department. He sat down and asked for information from the doctor, however the doctor said that he should speak to whoever was treating the victims. As this conversation took place, Yohanes Kuayo was arrested by several police and placed in a police car.  

After being arrested (12:00), Yohanes explained that he was a journalist and was covering events as part of his journalistic duties. However, the police did not respond. His mobile phone was taken, and his lens bag, laptop, flash disk and book were also taken by other police. Without much chat Yohanes was taken to the office of the Nabire Police Station Special Team.

Around 12:30, we found the Commander of the Nabire Police Station Special Team. We explained that Yohanes Kuayo is a journalist and was covering events as part of his journalistic work. When we found Yohanes Kuayo in the office of the Nabire Police Station Special Team, he was handcuffed. We asked for the cuffs to be removed and asked why he had been arrested.

The Commander of the Nabire Police Station Special Team stated that Yohanes Kuayo was arrested because he had entered a sterile area, and was wearing a ‘Free West Papua’ t-shirt. We responded that clothing, traditional bags (noken) and hats with ‘Free West Papua’ written on them are everywhere and are in wide circulation in Papua. There are even clothes with the Morning Star flag on them.

The police explained that the situation was not appropriate. At that time, the area in question was sterile and the suspect was wearing ‘Free West Papua’ clothing, so he came under suspicion. For this reason, Yohanes Kuyao was arrested in order to be questioned.

At 13:30 local time, Yohanes was requested to buy a new t-shirt and change this for his ‘Free West Papua’ t-shirt. After buying and changing his clothes, Yohanes Kuayo was allowed to go home.

Various links to coverage by and photographs of Yohanes Kuayo:

Satpol PP Pelayan Masyarakat dan Penegak Perda, Tak Dibenarkan Lakukan Kekerasan



Yermias Degei