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French journalists still behind bars in Papua; campaigns for their release continue

5 September, 2014

One month after their arrest, two French journalists and a Papuan tribal leader remain behind bars in Papua while the campaigns for their release are growing louder. Arrested on 5 August for working on tourist visas, Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat  remain in detention, along with Areki Wanimbo, an indigenous leader from Lanny Jaya. Indonesia continues to impose severe restrictions on access to Papua for foreign journalists and human rights workers. While most foreign journalists apprehended in Papua are switfly deported to their home countries, in this case the pair have been charged with immigration offences and accused of trying to destablise Papua.

Papuan civil society have been quick to show their support and have demonstrated calling for the release of the journalists. The Jayapura branch of the Alliance for Independent Journalists in Indonesia has appealed for the pair to be released and deported rather than subjected to legal process.

A plethora of international rights organisations have condemned the arrests and issued statements calling for their release. On 11 August Reporters without Borders issued a statement confirming that the French couple were indeed journalists who had been reporting on Papua. On 25 August, the International Federation of Journalists called for the release of the two journalists, and on 30 August, Amnesty International condemned the arrests and called for the journalists and Mr Wanimbo to be released. Several international NGOs have issued urgent appeals calling for the immediate release of the three detainees.

As the three detainees spend their 32nd night in jail tonight, human rights groups are united in their hope that upon his inauguration in October, President-elect Jokowi will act swiftly in honouring his promise to open up Papua to international journalists, observers, human rights and humanitarian workers.

Click here to read TAPOL and ICP's urgent appeal and learn more about the case.