1) Blocked from entering US, West Papuan leader seeks answers
Updated at 5:01 pm today
The West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda says he has no idea why he was blocked from travelling to the United States last week.
Mr Wenda was hoping to travel from London, where he lives in exile, to Los Angeles for a speaker's tour of California and Hawai'i at the invitation of Free West Papua groups in the US.
But when he checked in at Heathrow Airport, an alert came up on his passport, and he was taken in for questioning by an official from the US Homeland Security Department, who then revoked his 10-year business visa.
Mr Wenda says he was last in the US only a few months ago and has no idea why his visa has suddenly been revoked, but he's certain it's to do with his work in West Papua.
"I'm just confused. At a human level, I feel a little bit disappointed but, yeah. Now I'm trying to use my lawyer and she's trying to find out why my visa is invalid."
Jayapura, Jubi – The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) of Papua said President Joko Widodo’s decision to lift the ban on foreign press I Papua was the right decision and should not be questioned.
“Why should it be questioned? It’s a good policy, a good step from the Indonesian Government. Because it’s connected to journalism, freedom of press and democracy,” Victor Mambor, AJI Papua Chairman said in Jayapura on Wednesday (13/5/2015), responding to scepticism about the move.
“Papua is still part of Indonesia, thus it must be treated the same. It’s my opinion. But perhaps the Indonesian Parliament has their own judgment,” he said.
Further he is wondering why the president’s assistants do not seem to support his policy on this issue that has widely published. “I wonder about the Jokowi’s ministers because their remarks contradicted the president. But the parliament, they suppose to give the consideration, they should refer to legality and formality,” he said.
“It’s right the president said so, but it must be provided with legal support, because speaking about press is regulated under the Press Law. Meanwhile the Press Law only has three articles that regulated about Press Company, management of assets and so on,” he said.
But there’s a number of issues is not accommodated of the law. “The Press Law is not connected with reportage, immigration and another regulations. It is also not connected with the safety and other issues besides those that included in three articles. The government must see this. If required, it could be change,” he said.
Mambor emphasized the government would only want good news instead of the critics or feedbacks, the government should consider changing the regulation and made it as they expect. “If the government wants good news and propaganda, they must change the Press Law. But it only would make Indonesia look worse at the international, especially in connection with the press,” he said.
The Indonesian Parliament’s Deputy Chairman Taufik Kurniawan earlier asked the President Jokowi to reconsider his policy to open access for foreign press in Papua. “I think it’d be better to reconsider because the issues in Papua which are currently are very sensitive could be easily politicized either its poverty or social aspects if there is no filter,” Kurniawan said at the Parliament Building in Jakarta on Tuesday (12/5).
He said if it’s not reconsider he worried Papua issues could be politicized by foreign journalists and result unexpected consequences. “So far some media who have special agenda judging the Central Government seems not supporting the development in Papua, while we don’t see it anymore, because it’s all the same. Papua is part of Indonesia,” he said. (*/rom)