Merauke, Papua. Ardiansyah Matra’is, a journalist working for Merauke TV, was found dead near the Gudang Arang river in Merauke, Papua, on Friday morning. Ardiansyah had been reported missing for two days.
His body was found at 6:30 a.m. by a search and rescue team and was taken to the Merauke General Hospital, where an autopsy was to be conducted. The family, however, refused an autopsy.
Local police declined to comment on the matter.
Ardiansyah had been reported missing since Wednesday, 6 p.m. Local residents found his motorcycle and helmet near a bridge in Merauke.
His family and colleagues searched the area near the bridge, but to no avail. He was reported missing to the Merauke Police and the local SAR office in the evening.
He worked as a stringer for TV station Anteve and as a reporter for Papua’s Rajawali daily before joining Merauke TV.
Jojo, the chief editor of Rajawali daily, told news portal Kompas.com that journalists in Papua have been receiving death threats through text messaging over the past week.
“The SMS messages said that journalists in Papua would be killed and there would be no action from the police and the military. Several journalists had lodged a report with the Merauke Police about the death threats [they received],” Jojo said.
He alleged that the threats were related to the upcoming local district head election in Merauke.
One text message reads: “To cowardly journalists, never play with fire if you don’t want to be burned. If you still want to make a living on this land, don’t do weird things. We have data on all of you and be prepared for death.”
Papua Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Wachyono confirmed the reports.
“Merauke Police have received reports of SMS terror threats to journalists and an investigation is ongoing,” Wachyono said.
Meanwhile, Leo Siahaan, an official with the Papua branch of the Indonesian Journalists Association (PWI), is hoping that Ardiansyah’s death was not related to his journalistic work.
“We are still coordinating with our friends in Merauke to gather accurate information,” Leo said.