Pacific Media Centre Pacific Media Watch Pacific Journalism Review Asia Pacific Report

NZ: Freedom call for Papua imprisoned journalists and their sources

The vigil today in Auckland for West Papuan leader Areki Wanimbo and French journalists Valentine Bourrat and Thomas Dandois. Image: PMW

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Item: 8988

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): The New Zealand government and the French Embassy in Wellington were today called on at a vigil to put pressure on Indonesia to free two French journalists and their sources imprisoned in West Papua.

The vigil, organised by West Papua Action Auckland, said that journalists Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat and a West Papuan human rights defender who was jailed after granting them an interview, Areki Wanimbo, were being subjected to "incredibly draconian" threats of a trial.

Dandois and Bourrat were jailed seven weeks ago by Indonesian authorities for allegedly breaching their tourist visas through reporting on human rights abuses in West Papua.

Maire Leadbeater of West Papua Action Auckland said the only way journalists could get stories out of West Papua was by bending the rules.

Leadbeater spoke out against the "intense interrogation" that West Papuan activists who met with Dandois and Bourrat had been subjected to by the Indonesian military.

The organisation was very grateful to the journalists and their sources for putting themselves at risk in order to get information out into the world, she said.

Activist Margaret Taylor spoke out against an attack this week on Anum Siregar, the lawyer representing Wanimbo.

"It does seem at the moment that there is an increase in attacks," she said.

Anita Rosentreter of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU), which organises journalists, said her union had formed a New Zealand media freedom network which would take up the cause of the journalists and Wanimbo.

New Zealand journalist members of the network believed that any one of them could end up in the same situation if they went to West Papua, Rosentreter said.

Sydney-based journalists would also be holding a vigil today and in Wellington, New Zealand, Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty was set to hold a solidarity meeting for the journalists and their sources on the steps of Parliament.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera reports that Dandois and Bourrat have been detained in West Papua longer than any other foreign journalists previously.

"None since Oswald Iten of the Swiss daily Neue Zurcher Zeitung, who was jailed for 12 days in Jayapura in 2000, have been detained for anywhere near as long," the news site reported today.


Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand Licence.

About the authors

PMC profile photograph

Anna Majavu

PMW contributing editor 2014

Anna Majavu is the Pacific Media Watch freedom project contributing editor for 2014.

PMC profile photograph

Pacific Media Watch

PMC's media monitoring service

Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
(cc) Creative Commons


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.