West Papua: Members of UK House of Lords Condemn Restrictions on Freedom of Press
Eight members of the House of Lords – the upper house of the UK Parliament – have called on the UK Foreign Secretary to take a strong stand against the severe restrictions on the freedom of press in West Papua. As nearly all foreign media, NGOs and humanitarian agencies have been banned in West Papua, independent information about the systemic human rights abuses of the Indonesian military against West Papuans has been very limited.
The below statement is (re)published by The Guardian:
We, members of the House of Lords, would like to draw Jeremy Hunt’s attention to the severe restrictions on press freedom in Indonesian-occupied West Papua. Since the Indonesian takeover in 1963, nearly all foreign media, NGOs and humanitarian agencies have been banned from entering West Papua. At a time of allegations of widespread, systemic human rights abuses against the indigenous population, the Indonesian government has sought to control the flow of information from West Papua to the outside world.
UN officials have found themselves barred from accessing West Papua. Former UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, issued a statement of concern over Indonesia’s persistent foot-dragging in response to his desire to visit the territory. The current high commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, has similarly found her outstanding request for access unfulfilled. West Papuan journalists working locally face even more severe threats. This decade, several have been killed, arrested, beaten or tortured, allegedly for their reporting on Indonesian security service activities.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is making press freedom a pillar of its agenda in 2019. We hope the UK will take a strong stand on press freedom in West Papua and ensure that it is not bolstering this repressive activity through diplomatic support and military and police ties.
Richard Harries, Ray Collins Shadow minister for foreign affairs and international development, Alistair Cooke Deputy speaker, Navnit Dholakia Deputy leader, Liberal Democrats, David Hannay, Leslie Griffiths, Alan Beith, David Alton International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP), All-party parliamentary group (APPG) on West Papua
Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons