West Papua, the Melanesian region in the Pacific ruled by Indonesia, has long been plagued by issues of media freedom. But for the first time a journalist from the country has visited New Zealand to highlight how dire the situation really is. A Pacific Scoop special video report.
Report – By Struan Purdie
Indonesia’s “relaxed” policy towards foreign journalists trying to visit West Papua is misleading, says one of the Melanesian region’s leading independent journalists.
Victor Mambor, editor of Tabloid Jubi and chair of the West Papuan branch of the Indonesia’s Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), gave a harrowing account of the realities of “press freedom” at a seminar at the University of Auckland last week.
Sponsored by the Asia New Zealand Foundation, Mambor told the West Papua Action Auckland-organised seminar that there had been no real change in Indonesia’s policies over media access to West Papua.
Selective controls applied even though some Australian journalists, notably Fairfax Media’s Michael Bachelard and SBS Dateline’s Mark Davis – who reported in the region several times in the past posing as a tourist – had been allowed in under special visas.
Last week, two French journalists, 40-year-old Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat, 29, were arrested in West Papua by Indonesian authorities while reporting under cover with pro-independence activists.
Struan Purdie is a BCS (Hons) student on the Inclusive Journalism Initiative (IJI) programme at AUT University on the Asia-Pacific Journalism course.