Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cross-party support in NZ Parliament for 'media freedom' in West Papua

GREEN PARTY MP Catherine Delahunty stunned New Zealand's Parliament today with an untabled motion supporting media freedom in West Papua. Her motion won unanimous cross-party support.

Open access has been a long-standing demand by journalists and civil society advocates.

The recent presidential vote has offered a chance for major changes in the Jakarta-ruled two provinces of Papua and West Papua, collectively known as the region of West Papua.

Delahunty's motion: 
I move that this House call upon the new President of Indonesia to commit to genuine media freedom in West Papua including the right of local and international journalists to report on the political situation there without risk of imprisonment or harassment by the Indonesian state.
West Papuan journalist Victor Mambor at the Pacific Media
Centre this week. Photo: Del Abcede/PMC
The motion is very timely because Victor Mambor, a West Papuan journalist and editor of Tabloid Jubi, is currently visiting New Zealand and will be keynote speaker at a two-day seminar, West Papua: The Pacific's Secret Shame, at the weekend organised by West Papua Action Auckland.
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Among the discussions and presentations will be featured the recent SBS Dateline documentary West Papua's New Dawn? by investigative journalist Mark Davis, who managed to get a journalist’s visa to allow him rare access to this secretive part of Indonesia.

His guides were two former members of the West Papuan resistance movement who have become Indonesian citizens and now work with the government. They believe that Indonesian rule is the way forward.

One of them was Franz-Albert Joku, once a prominent journalist and editor living in Papua New Guinea, who was a strong advocate for West Papuan independence. He regained Indonesian citizenship in 2008.

He has been touring the Pacific in recent months, especially in Fiji, trying to drum up support for Indonesia in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). The Dateline website said:
[D]espite being constantly tracked by the authorities, Mark still manages to unearth stories of recent beatings, torture and killing of independence protesters.

And he smuggles a camera into a prison to meet a man jailed for 15 years just for raising the Morning Star flag of independence.

The Indonesian government claims it [has] softened its approach, so how does Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa respond to these latest claims of human rights abuses? And what prospects are there for peace in West Papua?

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