RAROTONGA, Cook Islands, Sunday 14th September 2014: New Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo should keep his campaign promise to open access to West Papua, says the Pacific Freedom Forum.
"Instead, his administration-in-waiting appears to be doing nothing to countermand the arrests of two French journalists in the province," says PFF Chair Titi Gabi.
"Jokowi's failure to take action must raise questions about who really controls West Papua," says Gabi.
She says that there is increasing pressure on the new government of Indonesia to distance itself from a history of suppressing freedoms of speech in West Papua by immediately freeing the two detained journalists.
"Now is the time for the fresh leaders of Indonesia to show that they upholds human rights for all its citizens, not just those close to Jakarta," says Gabi.
"PFF joins calls for the release of two recently detained French journalists - as well as freedom for their local counterparts."
Journalists working for French media outlet Arte TV were filming a documentary about human rights in West Papua.
Arte TV, Association Relative à la Télévision Européenne, (the Association of European Related Televison), is a Franco-German channel that is also broadcast by SBS, the Special Broadcasting Service in Australia.
Valentine Bourrat and Thomas Dandois were arrested on 6th August in Wamena. West Papua leader Areki Wanimbo was also arrested after being interviewed by the pair.
PFF Co-Chair Monica Miller said that decision in Indonesia to prosecute the pair flies in the face of increasing pressure from from the international community to free up access to West Papua for all.
"We welcome the historic cross-party call from the Parliament of New Zealand, for example, to allow local and foreign journalists to report in West Papua," said Miller.
"This is an especially welcome reversal of an earlier refusal by the Speaker to allow a human rights campaigner to speak at Parliament."
The new Indonesian administration will be sworn in next month.