Pacific Media Watch

25 August 2014

WEST PAPUA: Protests in support of imprisoned French journalists

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French journalists Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat as pictured in West Papua's Tabloid Jubi.

THE HAGUE (Radio Australia  / The Diplomat / Pacific Media Watch): A demonstration calling for the immediate release of imprisoned French journalists Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat will be held outside the Indonesian embassy in The Hague today, the Free West Papua Campaign has reported.

Dandois and Bourrat are now in their third week of detention in West Papua, following their arrest by the Indonesian military on August 6.

Another protest by West Papuan students was held last night in the streets of Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

A West Papuan activist in Australia, Ronnie Kareni, has asked the Indonesian government to resist the temptation to use the police and military to silence the people of the Indonesian-ruled province, Radio Australia reported.

A protest to free the jailed French journalists takes place today in The Hague. Image: Free West Papua Campaign

West Papuan activists and media freedom organisations have rejected claims by the Indonesian authorities that Dandois and Bourrat were arrested for conspiring with armed criminals, and that they may be charged with subversion.

West Papuan independence activists said the journalists only wanted to talk to indigenous people about the suffering caused by the Indonesian armed forces and police.

Kareni said Indonesia’s intention was clearly to make foreign journalists think twice before entering West Papua.

Currently, foreign journalists are effectively banned from West Papua as they need to apply for permits from the Indonesian authorities before writing anything. These permits are rarely granted to political journalists or anyone writing about the poor living conditions of West Papuans under Indonesian military occupation.

The Diplomat  says Indonesia has a "censorship obsession" with West Papua.

"The government has reason to fear the prying eyes of journalists in Papua. Human rights abuses remain rife in the province," activist and writer Phelim Kine wrote.

The translation from Tok Pisin report on Radio Australia is by Dr Philip Cass, a research associate of the Pacific Media Centre


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