Govt must back parliamentary support with action over West Papua

The New Zealand Government needs to back up its parliamentary support of media freedom in West Papua with action, the Green Party said today.

A motion tabled by the Green Party, in July 2014, to call on the Indonesian President to commit to genuine press freedom in West Papua was supported by all members of Parliament including the Government.

Shortly after the tabling of the Green Party’s motion two French journalists, Thomas Dandois and Valentine Burrat, were arrested in West Papua by Indonesian police for allegedly illegally working when on tourist visas.

“The New Zealand Government needs to use its diplomatic resources to advocate for the two French journalists arrested for allegedly violating their visas,” Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty said today.

“It is unacceptable that journalists cannot enter and report on the situation in West Papua without risk of ‘imprisonment or harassment’.

“The New Zealand government must back up its words of support for media freedom with action.

“Without any journalists on the ground, the future for West Papuans and their human rights will continue to be very bleak,” Ms Delahunty said.

“It is important for New Zealand and Australia to continue to advocate for not only for media freedom in West Papua but also hold Indonesia to account for numerous well documented human rights abuses in West Papua. 

“Without media freedom these abuses will continue to occur with no independent scrutiny.

“New Zealand has a long tradition of speaking up for those suffering human rights abuses,” Ms Delahunty said. 

“We must maintain our support for human rights and advocate for those suffering persecution and imprisonment in our own backyard.”

Note: there will be a rally outside Parliament today in support of the French journalists.

Who: Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty and representatives from the NGO movement.
When: 23 September,12:30pm.
Where: Parliament steps, Parliament, Wellington.

Link to media report on historic resolution: http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/2014/07/nz-parliament-backs-media-freedom-in-west-papua/

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