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Indonesian foreign minister blocks PNG media questions on West Papua

png minister pato with retna marsudi 425wide

Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi with her PNG counterpart Rimbink Pato at the Port Moresby media conference yesterday. Image: PNG Today

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Pacific Media Watch

Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has arrived in Papua New Guinea at the start of a three-country tour through the Pacific, saying the aim of the trip is to strengthen relations with PNG, Solomon Islands and Fiji.

Radio Australia reported that the Indonesian and PNG foreign ministers barred reporters’ questions on West Papua at a media conference yesterday, but PNG Today newsweb reported that the PNG minister Rimbink Pato later spoke about the issue to local journalists.

According to Radio Australia, Rimbink Pato released a statement before the media conference, saying bilateral, regional and international issues would be discussed.

But there was no mention of the human rights abuses in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua which Prime Minister Peter O’Neill recently said he would start speaking out about.

When the two foreign ministers had just wrapped up their press conference in Port Moresby, the ABC correspondent said journalists were not allowed to ask about rights abuses across their shared border.

Presenter: Bruce Hill

Speaker: Rolland Banaba, news editor from Yumi FM

Listen to the Radio Australia interview

‘Tight lipped’
PNG Today reported both ministers were “tight lipped” on the human rights issues affecting West Papuans and did not allow questions from the media.

However, at the request of the media, Minister Pato spared a few minutes after the conference to answer to questions from the media while the Indonesian leader was absent.

In his response about the issues affecting West Papuans, Pato said Marsudi had extensive discussions on the issue with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill during her breakfast meeting yesterday.

Both governments agreed to take “comprehensive action” to address the plight of  “our Melanesia brothers”.

“Political commitment is needed to guide the West Papuan issue to end the violence once and for all,” Pato said.

Source: Pacific Media Watch 9140