JOURNALISTS URGE RELEASE OF BELGIAN HOSTAGES IN IRIAN JAYA

admin's picture

JAKARTA, Indonesia (June 28, 2001 - Joyo Indonesian News/Dow Jones Newswires/AP/TAPOL)---The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists called for the immediate release Thursday of two Belgian filmmakers kidnapped by separatists in Indonesia’s remote Irian Jaya province.

"Kidnapping journalists violates international humanitarian law and is certainly not a good public relations strategy," said the committee’s deputy director, Joel Simon, in a statement.

Johan van Den Eynde, 47, and Philippe Simon, 49, were taken hostage last month by the rebel Free Papua Movement.

The kidnappers have demanded permission to raise their outlawed separatist flag. There has been no demand for a monetary ransom.

The rebels have been involved in several kidnappings in Irian Jaya, which is also known as West Papua, and takes up the western half of New Guinea Island, about 4,000 kilometers (2,400 miles) east of Jakarta.

In 1996, the same group kidnapped several English and Indonesian students, resulting in the deaths of two Indonesians.

Paul Barber TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign 25 Plovers Way, Alton Hampshire GU34 2JJ Tel/Fax: 01420 80153 Email: plovers@gn.apc.org  Internet: www.gn.apc.org/tapol 

THE COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS New York, New York

NEWS RELEASE June 27, 2001

CPJ CONCERNED ABOUT BELGIAN JOURNALISTS MISSING IN INDONESIA

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is gravely concerned about the apparent abduction of two Belgian documentary filmmakers in the Indonesian province of Papua.

Philippe Simon and Johan van Den Eynde were on assignment in Papua for the European television channel Arte. The two journalists were reported missing on June 7, when they left for the jungle east of Nabire, a coastal city about 500 kilometers (310 miles) southwest of the provincial capital, Jayapura.

A leader of one of the factions of the Free Papua Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka, or OPM), an armed group fighting for independence from Indonesian rule, claims to be holding the journalists hostage in order to attract international attention to the OPM cause.

On June 25, church mediators in Jayapura received a letter from rebel commander Kelly Kwalik. In the letter, which was addressed to Indonesian president Aburrahman Wahid, Kwalik took responsibility for the kidnapping and called for an "international dialogue" on the status of the territory. Papua, which is also known as Irian Jaya, is the western half of the island of New Guinea and has been under Indonesian control since 1963.

"Kidnapping journalists violates international humanitarian law and is certainly not a good public relations strategy," said CPJ deputy director Joel Simon. "If the OPM is indeed holding Simon and van Den Eynde, we urge them to release the journalists immediately and guarantee their safety."

Indonesian police have reportedly authorized the district head of Ilaga, a region in the central highlands where Simon and van Den Eynde are thought to be held, to negotiate for the journalists' release.

"We urge Indonesian authorities to make every effort to secure the safe release of these journalists, while exercising due caution and restraint," added Simon.

In 1996, a hostage crisis involving Kelly Kwalik's faction of the OPM ended with an Indonesian military raid that cost the lives of two Indonesian civilians.

For more information on press conditions in Indonesia, visit the CPJ Web site at www.cpj.org. CPJ is a New York-based, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of journalists that works to defend press freedom around the world.

CONTACT: Kavita Menon, Asia Program Coordinator New York phone: +1-212-465-1004 x140 E-mail: kmenon@cpj.org 

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment