Reporters without Borders condemns Indonesia for rejecting Foreign Journalist visa

January 19, 2016

Reporters sans frontières/Reporters Without Borders has slammed the Indonesian government for rejecting the visa of another foreign journalist after they made a documentary about West Papua.

For decades, the Indonesian government has systematically banned, barred and restricted all foreign journalists from visiting occupied West Papua and in 2014, 2 other French journalists were jailed just for reporting on the situation.

Last year, South East Asia-based reporter Cyril Payen, working for France 24 had his documentary, “Forgotten War of the Papuas,” broadcast by France 24 on Oct. 18, 2015. You can watch his powerful and insightful documentary below.

After this documentary was broadcast, the French Ambassador to Indonesia was summoned to the Indonesian Foreign Ministry and Cyril Payen was then told by Indonesian officials was now persona non grata in Indonesia.
He was then told that his request for a visa to make another documentary in West Papua had been turned down.

In response to this, Reporters Without Borders has strongly condemned the Indonesian government with Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk, saying:

We firmly condemn this flagrant violation of media freedom and this discrimination against an independent journalist who has committed no crime.

President Joko Widodo has hereby demonstrated that his election promise to open up West Papua to foreign journalists was pure deception. We urge him to keep this promise and to let foreign journalists do their job without having to fear surveillance, censorship or reprisals by the authorities.

Indonesia is ranked 138th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index and this latest condemnation follows a wider condemnation by the International community. Human Rights Watch also recently published a 74 Page report, exposing the Indoensian governments draconian restrictions towards foreign journalists who try to get the truth out of occupied West Papua. You can read the full report here.

Rally for media access for West Papua outside the Indonesian Consulate in Darwin, Australia

With jailing, restricting and removing the visas of foreign journalists, clearly the Indonesian government still has a lot to hide in occupied West Papua.

We encourage everyone to please help to expose the illegal occupation and secret genocide of the West Papuan people before it is too late. Together, we will Free West Papua!