NEW ZEALAND: Media freedom in West Papua: Protest at Indonesian embassy

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Date: 29 October 2014

Source: Scoop Independent News

Type: News

Keywords: Media freedom

Today, Wednesday 29 October, there will be a peaceful protest at the Indonesian Embassy in Wellington to call on new Indonesian President Joko Widodo to honour his election promise to ensure greater media freedom in West Papua.

Local journalists in West Papua, occupied by Indonesia since 1963, are subjected to violence and intimidation, as highlighted during the visit earlier this year by Victor Mambor, Alliance of Independent Journalists in Papua ( Foreign journalists are seldom permitted to visit West Papua, and the select few that are allowed entry are closely monitored during their time there.

The lack of access for foreign media, and the harsh treatment of West Papuans who meet with those who enter the country under tourist visas, has been highlighted most recently by the Indonesian authorities treatment of French journalists Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat, who were arrested on 6 August while recording footage for a documentary on the human rights situation in West Papua. Rather than being swiftly deported as other foreign journalists have been in the past, they were charged with immigration breaches and imprisoned until this week when they appeared in court - according the Indonesian Independent Alliance of Journalists, the first time that foreign journalists have been tried under immigration laws in Papua. The two journalists were found guilty, and will be freed next week. There have been reports that West Papuans who may have met with Dandois and Bourrat have been targeted and interrogated by Indonesian intelligence officers.

The International Federation of Journalists has raised numerous concerns about media freedom in West Papua over many years, just last week calling on President Joko Widodo to adopt a more open and transparent approach to media - Human Rights Watch too has raised this issue repeatedly, describing the conviction of Dandois and Bourrat as "a worrying blow" for media freedom -

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