Dutch journalists detained in Indonesian Papua

24th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

Four Dutch journalists are arrested for reporting on a protest calling for independence from Jakarta without applying for permits, say police.

JAYAPURA – Four Dutch journalists were detained by police in Indonesia's remote Papua region on Tuesday for reporting on a protest calling for independence from Jakarta, police said.

The reporters were arrested as they covered the rally in the sensitive region, the site of a long-running insurgency by the pro-independence Free Papua Movement (OPM), police chief Bagus Eko Danto told AFP.

The four were following the return of OPM co-founder Nicholas Jouwe to Indonesia after more than 40 years in exile in the Netherlands, Danto said, and are being held in immigration detention.

"Nicholas Jouwe's group had already left the area in the morning but they also covered the rally, despite not having permits," Danto said.

The four journalists, one from the daily NRC Handelblad and three freelances, are arrested for contravening immigration rules and for filming without prior permission.

Around 1,000 protesters converged on the provincial parliament amid a tight police presence to call for a boycott of national legislative elections on 9 April and a referendum for independence in the resource-rich region.

Papua, which sits on the western end of New Guinea island, was formally a Dutch colony and remained one after Indonesia gained independence in 1949.

In 1961 an elected government prepared the region for full independence, but Indonesia invaded the region which led to a brief war between The Netherlands and Indonesia.

After a political intervention by the United Nations, Papua was ceded to Indonesia in 1962 and formally incorporated into Indonesia after a 1969 UN-backed vote by tribal elders widely seen as a sham.

The 85-year-old Jouwe arrived in Indonesia last week, calling for peace between the Indonesian government and Papuans during a meeting with Welfare Minister Aburizal Bakrie.

AFP / Radio Netherlands / Expatica

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