Jayapura, Jubi – Violence against the press in Papua continues to occur in early 2023. The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Jayapura on Monday, March 13, 2023, received reports of threats to kill journalists and burn the Teropong News media office located on S. Kamundan Street Kilometer 12, Sorong City, Southwest Papua.
AJI Jayapura chair Lucky Ireeuw strongly condemned the death threats and considered it an act that injured press freedom in Papua. Therefore, AJI Jayapura asks the West Papua Police and Sorong Police to find and prosecute the perpetrators.
“AJI Jayapura asks the people to understand the duty of the press to convey facts independently. We also support Teropong News to continue to voice the truth. As the Latin proverb says, ‘Magna est veritas, et praevalebit’, which means there is nothing higher than the truth, and the truth will win,” Ireeuw said in a written release received by Jubi on Wednesday, March 15, 2023.
The threat against Teropong News began at around 1 p.m. Papua time with the arrival of two trucks carrying people arriving at the Teropong News office. The mob immediately threatened to burn down the office and kill the employees who were in the office at the time.
The mob demanded Teropong News to remove all news related to illegal logging cases in Sorong Regency. If the demands were not made, they would kill Teropong News journalists they met on the street. After threatening to kill journalists and burn the office, the group immediately left.
Teropong News chief editor Imam Mucholik deeply regretted the incident. He suspected that there was an attempt to incite the people who came to his office. This is because the news related to illegal logging does not attack community activities at all.
Imam explained that Teropong News highlighted timber shelters that were suspected of operating without a license. The managers of these shelters buy wood from the community, sell them as industrial raw material, and send them outside Papua.
In fact, timber shelters that have a Primary Timber Forest Products Industry (IPHHK) business license are prohibited from selling processed wood from the community to the industry. Their license is to sell wood for local needs for people in Sorong and surrounding areas.
“Our legal division will report to the Sorong City Police and ask the police to take firm action against the perpetrators and provocateurs in this action,” said Imam Mucholik.
He said the legal division would also report this incident to the Press Council and other press organizations as this action was considered an act against the law and hampered press freedom.
Meanwhile, head of the Criminal Investigation Unit of Sorong City Police First Insp. Arifal Utama said his party was ready to guarantee the safety of all journalists and employees of Teropong News. He also asked Teropong News to immediately report this matter to the Sorong City Police. (*)