Pacific NiusBeat

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Journalists arrest in West Papua defies presidential promise - PFF

French journalists Valentine Bourrat and Thomas Dandois with an Indonesian immigration official in Jayapura city. Photo AFP via Sydney Morning Herald
French journalists Valentine Bourrat and Thomas Dandois with an Indonesian immigration official in Jayapura city. Photo AFP via Sydney Morning Herald

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands, Sunday 14th September 2014: 

New Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo should keep his campaign promise to open access to West Papua, says the Pacific Freedom Forum.

"Instead, his administration-in-waiting appears to be doing nothing to countermand the arrests of two French journalists in the province," says PFF Chair Titi Gabi.

"Jokowi's failure to take action must raise questions about who really controls West Papua," says Gabi.

She says that there is increasing pressure on the new government of Indonesia to distance itself from a history of suppressing freedoms of speech in West Papua by immediately freeing the two detained journalists.

"Now is the time for the fresh leaders of Indonesia to show that they upholds human rights for all its citizens, not just those close to Jakarta," says Gabi.

"PFF joins calls for the release of two recently detained French journalists - as well as freedom for their local counterparts."

Journalists working for French media outlet Arte TV were filming a documentary about human rights in West Papua.

Arte TV, Association Relative à la Télévision Européenne, (the Association of European Related Televison), is a Franco-German channel that is also broadcast by SBS, the Special Broadcasting Service in Australia.

Valentine Bourrat and Thomas Dandois were arrested on 6th August in Wamena. West Papua leader Areki Wanimbo was also arrested after being interviewed by the pair.

PFF Co-Chair Monica Miller said that decision in Indonesia to prosecute the pair flies in the face of increasing pressure from from the international community to free up access to West Papua for all.

"We welcome the historic cross-party call from the Parliament of New Zealand, for example, to allow local and foreign journalists to report in West Papua," said Miller.

"This is an especially welcome reversal of an earlier refusal by the Speaker to allow a human rights campaigner to speak at Parliament."

The new Indonesian administration will be sworn in next month.

LINKS

French journalists Dandois and Bourrat arrested in West Papua face five years jail
http://www.smh.com.au/world/french-journalists-dandois-and-bourrat-arrested-in-west-papua-face-five-years-jail-20140908-10e0o4.html

Australia urged to rethink after Papua arrests
http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/253001/australia-urged-to-rethink-after-papua-arrests

Indonesia’s Papua Censorship Obsession
http://thediplomat.com/2014/08/indonesias-papua-censorship-obsession/

"Government should not turn blind eye to Indonesia's treatment of West Papuans"
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-29/dlp-senator-john-madigan-urges-action-on-west-papua/5706796

NZ Parliament backs media freedom in West Papua
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1407/S00513/nz-parliament-backs-media-freedom-in-west-papua.htm

NZ steps up focus on West Papua
http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/programmes/datelinepacific/audio/20144236/nz-steps-up-focus-on-west-papua 

West Papua: Journalists face trial for 'subversion'
https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/57364

Jokowi to open access to Papua for foreign journalists, int’l organizations
http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2014/06/05/jokowi-open-access-papua-foreign-journalists-int-l-organizations.html

French journalists and indigenous leader at risk of prosecution in Papua
http://www.humanrights.asia/news/forwarded-news/AHRC-FUA-004-2014

CONTACTS 

PFF CHAIR | Titi Gabi PNGEdge.com | Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea | PO Box 7776, Boroko, NCD, PNG | Mob: +675 70686875 | titi.gabipng@gmail.com

PFF CO-CHAIR | Monica Miller KHJ Radio | Pago Pago, America Samoa | Mob: +684 258 4197 | Office: +684 633 7793 | monica@southseasbroadcasting.com 

The Pacific Freedom Forum is a regional and global online network of Pacific media colleagues, with the specific intent of raising awareness and advocacy of the right of Pacific people to enjoy freedom of expression and be served by a free and independent media. We believe in the critical and basic link between these freedoms, and the vision of democratic and participatory governance pledged by our leaders in their endorsement of the Pacific Plan and other commitments to good governance. In support of the above, our key focus is monitoring threats to media freedom and bringing issues of concern to the attention of the wider regional and international community.