Research article: Government loudspeakers – How Indonesian media amplifies the state’s narrative towards the Free West Papua movement

The research article of the title was published on 31.07.23 in the latest issue: Vol. 29 No. 1 & 2 (2023): Governance, disinformation and training, of the Pacific Journalism Review: Te Koakoa. The PJR is a peer-reviewed journal examining media issues and communication in the South Pacific, Asia-Pacific, Australia and New Zealand. 

In early 2021, the Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security, Mahfud M D, made a statement that all armed actions in West Papua carried out by individuals or groups with the aim of liberating themselves are ‘acts of terrorism’. This was the moment when the Indonesian government formally labelled the Free West Papua Movement as ‘terrorist suspects’ and ‘terrorist organisations’.

Indonesian online media responded by providing extensive coverage of Mahfud MD’s statement and the excesses after this statement. Indonesian online media tend to use the term ‘terrorist’ in their reporting to label ‘separatist’ West Papua movements, as those seeking independence or self-determination. The term ‘terrorist’ replaces Armed Criminal Group—Kelompok Kriminal Bersenjata (KKB). This study shows how six Indonesian mass media organisations frame cases of labeling terrorists against West Papuan pro-independence groups. This study, using quantitative framing analysis, examines framing conducted by six national online media that are dominant in Indonesia and have the most audience share: Okezone, Detik,, Tribunnews, CNN Indonesia, and Tirto.

This study also elaborates on the experiences and perceptions of journalists writing on the issue of West Papua, particularly in terms of labelling West Papuan ‘separatist’ groups as ‘terrorists’ by the government and how the media frames West Papua. The findings of this study show that the media tends to only be a ‘loudspeaker’ for the government, use all discourses issued by the government, and even participate in using the term terrorist to replace the KKB.

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