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Soldier Athlete Attacks Papuan Journalist

Soldier Athlete Attacks Papuan Journalist

By Nethy Dharma Somba, The Jakarta Post

JAYAPURA, Papua (JP Online/Pacific Media Watch): Dozens of journalists here on Friday condemned an attack on fellow reporter Irwanto by a national athlete in Indonesia's Papua province, and urged the attacker to be dealt with firmly.

The protesters staged a rally at the Papua office of Indonesia's National Sports Council (KONI) and demanded that the athlete be arrested and taken to court.

Irwanto, who works for the Cendrawasih Pos daily, was beaten on Wednesday by Ismail Sroyer, who is a discus thrower as well as an Army soldier, at the KONI office in the provincial capital of Jayapura.

Ismail suddenly attacked Irwanto when the reporter was covering a training session held by local discus throwers, injuring Irwanto him the face and head.

Irwanto reported the case to KONI Papua executive chairman Koos Urbinas, who asked the two to settle the matter amicably.

But minutes after Koos left his room, Ismail again attacked Irwanto, kicking him and hitting him in the face, head and arms.

The attack was allegedly triggered by an article written by Irwanto and published in the Cendrawasih Pos on an attempted rape case involving a youth at Mandala Field, which hosts athletes training as part of National Sports Week. Shortly after the report's publication, Jayapura Police arrested a man over attempted rape.

Although the article did not mention any names, Ismail was apparently offended by the report, as it identified the location where the attempted rape occurred.

Cendrawasih Pos chief editor Joko Suhendro slammed the beating as an "arrogant act" that belittled the journalistic profession.

Ismail may be charged with Article 351 of the Criminal Code on assault, according to the newspaper's lawyer Hendrik Tomasoa.

Harsh criticisms were also issued by Frits Ramandey of the Papua branch of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) and Usman Fakaubun of the local Indonesian Journalists Association (PWI).

Koos, who received the protesting journalists, said he had left the matter in the hands of legal authorities and hoped the incident would not damage ties between athletes and journalists in Papua. He said the case was being handled by the Trikora military police command in Jayapura.

However, when the journalists tried to seek confirmation about the legal process from Trikora spokesman Col. Rustaman Henry Pramono, about 10 soldiers blocked them from entering Rustaman's office. The move drew the attention from Muslims on their way to a nearby mosque for Friday prayers and caused a traffic jam.

"Don't stage a demonstration at the military office headquarters," a soldier yelled at the journalists.

In the end, the Trikora command representatives allowed only two of the journalists were to meet Trikora representatives.



PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

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