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Five Australian Journalists Arrested In Papua

Five Australian Journalists Arrested In Papua Over Visas

JAKARTA (Reuters/Pacific Media Watch): Five Australian television journalists have been arrested in Indonesia's Papua province for working with tourist visas, the Indonesian foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

The Australians, who work from Channel 7, were arrested on Tuesday and have been questioned by police, said ministry spokesman Desra Percaya.

"The came to Indonesia using visas on arrival. There are indications that they have misused their tourist visas for journalistic purposes," he told Reuters.

He said the journalists, who entered Papua through the resort island of Bali, would be deported and fined, and possibly "blacklisted".

Foreign reporters in general are supposed to have a journalist visa to work anywhere in Indonesia, and in addition the Indonesian government requires foreign journalists wishing to report in Papua to get a special permit.

The government has defended the restrictions on Papua coverage, citing concerns foreigners may encourage separatism in the remote province.

Lying at the eastern end of the huge archipelago, the vast province was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 under a UN-backed vote by community leaders after Jakarta took over the province from Dutch colonial rule in 1963.

Many international rights group have criticised the U.N. vote process as unfair.

Papuan independence activists have campaigned for more than 30 years to break away from Indonesia while a low-level armed rebellion has also simmered. Human rights groups have accused the Indonesian military of widespread abuses there.


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