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Indonesian ministry denies Papua ban on foreign journalists

France 24's Cyril Payen ... barred by Indonesia after controversial documentary. Image: France 24

France 24’s Cyril Payen … barred by Indonesia after controversial documentary. Image: France 24

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By 
Tika Primandari in Jakarta

Deputy Foreign Minister Abdurrahman Mohammad Fachir has denied that the Foreign Ministry has imposed a ban against foreign journalists from entering Papua to cover human rights cases.

According to Fachir, journalists can enter Papua regardless of reporting material.

“There is no ban,” he said.

Fachir said that foreign journalists would be treated like state guest. For example, the journalists would be questioned about their purpose of visit and whom they will meet during their stay in Indonesia.

“But there is no supervision or ban,” said Fachir.

Previously, French journalists Cyril Payen was barred from entering Papua after his documentary titled Forgotten War of the Papuas was broadcast on France 24 on October 18, 2015.

Later on November 2015, Payen was declared as a persona non grata and was forbidden to enter West Papua although President Joko Widodo had already revoked the media ban on May 2015.

Last year, two French journalists, Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat, were sentenced to prison after they were caught trying to make a documentary about pro-independence movements in West Papua.

Statement criticised
Pacific Media Watch reports: Last week, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned the Indonesian government’s refusal to let French journalist Cyril Payen visit Indonesia. following the documentary he made about West Papua was broadcast on France 24.

RSF said that Indonesian President Joko Widodo had promised to allow foreign reporters to visit West Papua.

A Bangkok-based reporter specialising in Southeast Asia, Payen was able to visit West Papua in mid-2015 after obtaining all the necessary authorisations before setting off.

London-based Indonesian human rights campaigner Carmel Budiardjo curculated an email on activist networks criticising the Foreign Ministry statement and actions. She wrote:

The Deputy Foreign Minister says in his statement that there is no ban on journalists visiting West Papua but contradicts himself by saying that “journalists will be questioned about the purpose of visit and whom they will meet during their stay in Indonesia”.

As ever, the Indonesian government as usual shows that they have a great deal to hide because of the continuing repression of freedom of expression and assembly in West Papua.

Let us hope that these journalists will see through this veil of deception and do whatever they can to speak to West Papuan people so as to discover the truth about the situation in occupied West Papua.

Source: Pacific Media Watch 9540

RSF protest