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Foreign journalists now "free" to report on Papua, says Jokowi

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Sun, May 10, 2015 | 05:52 pm

Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto confirmed on Sunday that President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo had made an official press statement revoking the restrictions that prevented foreign journalists from covering Papua.

He said the President made the statement while in Kampung Wameko, Hurik, Merauke, Papua, where he was attending a harvest ceremony, on Sunday.

'€œStarting from today, foreign journalists are allowed to and can visit Papua as freely as they can any other part of Indonesia,'€ said Jokowi as repeated by Andi, as reported by tempo.co.

Andi further said foreign journalists did not have to request special permission from the Foreign Ministry to report on Papua. '€œThis will be just the same as making news reports in other regions,'€ he said.

Jokowi said that from now on, Indonesia must be able to think positively and build trust, which he considers to have long been waning.

He refused to respond to a journalist'€™s question on reports that most foreign journalists in Papua focused their work on reporting on the activities of armed groups on the island. '€œPlease don'€™t raise such questions anymore. That'€™s enough,'€ Jokowi said.

Indonesia had long maintained a cautious approach toward foreign journalists who aimed to cover Papua. For the past decade, journalists intending to report on Papua were required to fill out permission request forms, which needed approvals from various government institutions. Only a few requests were granted by the government. Any foreign journalists caught making news reports without permits could face criminal charges.

In 2014, two French journalists, Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat, were arrested and jailed for not having the proper permits to report in Papua. The journalists were caught trying to make a documentary on the Papuan separatist movement. (dyl/ebf)(+++)

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