Press freedom in West Papua: Unknown perpetrators detonate bomb in front of Victor Mambor’s house

Unknown perpetrators have placed a bomb in front of a house in Jayapura, Papua Province, owned by Papuan journalist Mr Victor Mambor. The explosion occurred on 23 January 2023, around 4 am, while Mr Mambor was watching television inside his house. He understands the bomb as an act of intimidation and a warning to stop carrying out his work as a journalist. Victor Mambor co-founded the Papuan media outlet Tabloid Jubi and received the Udin Award from the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) in 2022. He is a native Papuan journalist who has dedicated his life for decades to journalism. Mr Mabor has reported the case to the police.

The self-constructed bomb detonated about 100 meters away from Mr Mambor’s house. Visual evidence of the attack was caught on a CCTV camera installed in one part of Victor’s house. The recordings show a Honda motorbike crossing the side of his house before the explosion occurred. The blast left marks on the asphalt road (see photos below). “I was watching TV at the time. The sound was so big that the walls of my house shook like during an earthquake,” said Mambor.

This is already the second time that Victor Mambor has been intimidated. On the night of 21 April 2021, unknown perpetrators had already damaged his car in front of his house in Jayapura. The perpetrator(s) smashed the windshield and two side windows and defaced the car with spray paint. Mr Mambor reported the case to the police. However, police investigations did not reveal who was behind the attack. Many organisations, such as the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), and the Papuan Association of Human Rights Advocates (PAHAM), harshly condemned the attack. They understand the incident as an attack on press freedom, not only in West Papua but also in Indonesia as a whole. Mr Gustaf Kawer, PAHAM director, deplored the bombings. “This is the umpteenth incident in which journalists and media have been [treated] like this. We see a connection with incidents that happened to other activists, but the cases were not followed-up [by the police],” Kawer said. He stressed that journalists and the media are essential pillars of a democratic country and therefore need special protection from the state.

Photos taken at the site of crime