Dubious website alleges human rights defenders of disseminating false information

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The head of the Foundation for Justice and Integrity of the Papuan People (YKKMP), Theo Hesegem, has been subjected to intimidation by security force members. The intimidation occurred after the dubious website “Kitorangpapuanews.com” discredited the human rights defenders Theo Hesegem and Pastor John Jongga, publishing an article with the title “Theo Hesegem spreads false news to cover-up OPM brutality”. The article accuses both human rights defenders of having disseminated false information on the killing of civilians during the ongoing security force operation in the regency of Nduga. The intro image shows two pictures of Theo Hesegem in front of a devil-like creature and the morning star flag (see into image). The article refers to Theo Hesegem and Pastor John Jongga as “member of the separatist movement OPM, wearing a neck tie”. This stigma particularly often used by members of the military and right-wing nationalist groups in Indonesia.

After the article was published, members of the 1702 Jayawijaya military command filed a complaint to the local police, alleging Theo Hesegem of disseminating false information. A member of the criminal investigation police department called Theo Hesegem and asked him to come to the police station. The police officer questioned Theo Hesegem at the police station in relation to his report on human rights violations during the security force operation in the Nduga Regency.  Theo Hesegem confirmed that he had written the report, but rejected to answer further questions because the police officer had not summoned Theo Hesegem, as it is required under the Indonesian Criminal Procedure Code (KUHAP).

 

Background

During the past years, one can observe growing efforts to influence the public opinion on West Papua-related issues through various media channels, particularly through websites and social media. Many accounts do not appear to be genuine. Such websites and social media accounts promote the unitary state doctrine of the Indonesian government and criticize human rights related issues or aspirations for self-determination. Social media posts on West Papua-related issues are shared on a daily basis. The posts often contain counter-information or alternative facts to incidents and developments that are being discussed in the media. The dubious websites and social media accounts often carry the names of indigenous clans or resemble the name of genuine media or human rights outlets to appear credible or pro-Papuan. Human rights defenders and lawyers in West Papua are often stigmatized as separatists, if they represent political pro-independence activists at court or defend their rights during arrest and detention.