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Democracy in West Papua

Senator Di Natale to move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) freedom of the press is an important element of any functioning democracy, and

(ii) access to Papuan provinces by foreign journalists has been tightly restricted by the Indonesian Government;

(b) expresses its concern at the ongoing detention of French journalists, Mr Thomas Dandois and Ms Valentine Bourrat, on 6 August 2014, while they were filming a documentary for the FrancoGerman television channel Arte, noting that they entered Indonesia on a tourist visa;

(c) welcomes public statements from Indonesia’s President-elect, Mr Joko Widodo, that Papuan provinces should be open to foreign journalists; and

(d) calls on the Australian Government to request that the Indonesian Government release Mr Dandois and Ms Bourrat as a sign of its commitment to more open Papuan provinces.

Accompanying Statement

Senator DI NATALE:  This motion goes to two specific issues. One is the issue of journalism and journalism right around the world being under attack. We have recently seen the issue of the Australian journalist, Peter Greste incarcerated in Egypt after a show trial, but we cannot advocate for people like Peter Greste and stay silent on the issue of the arbitrary detention of journalists in West Papua like the two French journalists who were doing nothing other than reporting the truth.

It also goes to the issue of the recent changes in West Papua and, in fact, the election of the new Indonesian President, President Joko Widodo, who has made some very encouraging noises around the situation in West Papua. It is important that we facilitate ongoing dialogue with the Indonesian President to ensure that journalists get access to that region.

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