Action needed now against Indonesia press ban "farce" – PFF

PFF, The Pacific Freedom Forum

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.

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“ Are world press supposed to attend World Press Freedom Day, sip fruity drinks in Jakarta, and pretend our colleagues in West Papua are not being seriously mistreated? ”

World Press Freedom Day co-host Indonesia must issue a written directive to fulfil promises for free press access to West Papua, says PFF, the Pacific Freedom Forum.

“Latest deportation of two French journalists is an embarrassing reminder of how little Indonesia respects press freedoms,” says PFF Chair Monica Miller.

“Especially embarrassing because the two journalists were producing a documentary for Garuda, the national airline of Indonesia.”

Put it in writing

PFF is calling on #WPFD2017 co-host UNESCO to push for urgent action on the long promised but never delivered written directive from Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Without any directive, the credibility of both UNESCO and Indonesia must come under serious question, says PFF.

“Indonesia cannot seek to enjoy favourable attention as hosts to world press while continuing a de facto ban on the same people,” says Miller.


“Nor can UNESCO stand aside and let this issue slide silently by.”

PFF notes the lack of any specific sessions in the existing WPFD programme to address the issue of West Papua.

“Are world press supposed to attend World Press Freedom Day,” she asks, “sip fruity drinks in Jakarta, and pretend our colleagues in West Papua are not being seriously mistreated?

Two French journalists Franck Escudié and Basille Longchamp are put on display at an Indonesia police press conference in Tembagapura, Papua. Photo / AFP / Irsul Aditra


“Press freedoms in Indonesia have gone from a tragedy to a farce.”

PFF supports the call from Human Rights Watch for Joko Widowi to issue a long-delayed written directive lifting restrictions on foreign media access to Papua, and appropriately punish government officials who refuse to comply.

“Criticism is not enough, action is needed. Nor is it enough to state that the latest deportation raises questions,” says Miller.

Half a century

“News media, press freedom advocates and human rights activists have been raising questions for half a century.”

Enough, is enough, says Miller.

“Indonesia has been warned already.


“Unless UNESCO and Indonesia take action to immediately address this issue, PFF will have no alternative than to declare this event a mockery of world press freedom, unworthy of attendance.”

Instead of ignoring West Papua, Indonesia should mark World Press Freedom Day 2017 by allowing credibly independent observers from overseas to arrange free, unhindered and unmonitored news media access to the provinces.

“Stop watching the watchdogs,” Miller tells Indonesian security forces, long documented harassing, arresting, and persecuting West Papua press.

West Papua has suffered censorship in the form of travel bans on foreign press for more than five decades. Image / Free West Papua campaign


Jean Frank Pierre, 45, and Basille Marie Longhamp, 42, were charged and deported with violating Article 75 (1) of the 2011 Immigration Law.

This is despite Indonesia having extensive press freedom protection laws, which are mostly sidelined in Papua under various other laws, such as security for local media, and immigration for foreign press.

Indonesia is also a member of the United Nations, with article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guaranteeing that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”


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