West Papua Today

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Deportation imminent for four Dutch journalists

Irawaty Wardany and Mustaqim Adamrah

The Indonesian government will immediately deport four Dutch journalists who were arrested by immigration authorities for covering rallies in Jayapura, Papua province, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said Thursday.

Police released the foreign journalists Wednesday after they were held for questioning in Jayapura.
They were taken into custody Tuesday for attempting to cover the return of Nicholas Jouwe, a founder of the pro-independence Free Papua Movement, from more than 40 years in exile in the Netherlands.

The journalists will be deported from Indonesia on the same day as Nicholas leaves Indonesia, Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah told The Jakarta Post, without specifying a date.

Immigration officials said the Dutch journalists joined Nicholas’ entourage on his return to Papua last week.

Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda said the Dutch journalists abused the conditions of their tourist visas.

“It is wrong when a foreigner comes to Indonesia using tourist visa, but in fact he’s a journalist and carries out journalistic activities. [The Dutch journalists] should have used a particular visa,” he said at the State Palace in Jakarta on Wednesday.

The minister said that because they had abused their visas it was reasonable for the Papua immigration authorities to arrest them.

“I heard they applied for the [journalist] visa only a day prior to their departure to Papua, which is supposed to be submitted several days beforehand,” Teuku said.

Local immigration Chief Raden Hendiartono said they were searched and questioned about their activities in the rugged eastern province, which is normally barred to foreign journalists.

“We searched them and asked for an explanation,” Hendiartono told AFP on Wednesday, adding they were held in police custody for about 12 hours.

“They were suspected of misusing their permission to report on Nicholas. But we didn’t find anything so we let them go,” he said.

One of the journalists has returned to Jakarta but the other three have had their passports confiscated for “investigation” and cannot leave Papua, he said.

“We have put them in a hotel and they are free to leave their rooms and walk around the hotel without supervision.

“But they can’t leave Papua, they can’t leave Indonesia, and they can’t do any reporting until we return their passports,” Hendiartono said.

The 85-year-old Nicholas arrived in Indonesia last week, calling for peace between the government and Papuans, but refusing to explicitly renounce the Papuan independence movement. He met with Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Thursday.

The Foreign Ministry identified the four Dutch journalists as a reporter for the NRC Handelsblad newspaper and three documentary film makers from the VPRO television network.

NRC Handelsblad Deputy Editor Hans Steketee said Tuesday that the paper’s Jakarta correspondent Elske Schouten was among those detained. VPRO did not have details of its detained staff.

In 2006, five Australian TV journalists were also deported from the country after visiting the restive Papua province on tourist visas.

April 5, 2009 - Posted by | News

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