Czech Journalist Arrested at West Papua Protest
Jayapura. A Czech man arrested in Manokwari on Wednesday worked as a journalist. He was arrested after taking pictures of a pro-independence demonstration in the West Papua capital.
Papua Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Wachyono said the journalist, Petr Zamecnik, claimed to be working as a reporter for a Prague-based business publication and to be doing a story on tourist sites in the province, including the famous Raja Ampat dive site and the Arfak Mountains.
“At the moment we are detaining the Czech national,” Wachyono said. “He cannot provide press identification. He just showed us a number of Web sites where he said he worked.”
Foreign journalists entering West Papua and neighboring Papua require special permits from the foreign affairs and communication ministries, as well as from the local police.
Authorities have said the requirement is for the journalists’ own safety, because both resource-rich provinces have seen low-level insurgencies since it became part of Indonesia in 1969.
Activists, however, say it is part of an attempt to cover up human rights abuses by security officials.
Permits are rarely issued except for nature and travel documentaries and reporting.
Wachyono said Zamecnik had entered the country using a tourist visa, which did not allow him to work here.
“We have handed him over to immigration, it is up to them whether he will be deported or not,” the officer said.
The demonstration was staged by the West Papua National Authority in support of Forkorus Yaboisembut, chairman of the Papuan Customary Council, who is on trial for treason in Jayapura, the capital of Papua.
Prosecutors at the Jayapura District Court have accused Forkorus of declaring independence for West Papua during the Third Papuan Congress on Oct. 19.
He also proclaimed himself president of an independent West Papua and Edison Waromi, chairman of the West Papua National Authority, vice president, the court was told.
Forkorus, Edison and three other Papuan activists could face up to 15 years in prison.
One of their lawyers, Johanes Harry Maturbongs, told the court the charges were “baseless.” He said the congress was aimed at “addressing poverty and the indigenous rights of Papuans.”
Another lawyer, Latifah Anum Siregar, said the arrests were unlawful, adding that the police had failed to show arrest warrants for congress participants.
At least six congress participants were killed when police and military soldiers broke up the congress. Hundreds more were injured and reportedly suffered torture and degrading treatment at the hands of authorities.