Lunchtime vigil to call for the Freedom of French journalists and indigenous leader Areki Wanimbo

Journalists Thomas Dandois, 40, and Valentine Bourrat, 29, employed by the Franco-German TV channel Arte have been detained in West Papua since August 5 charged with visa irregularities as well as treason-related activity. The pair, who were collecting material for a documentary about the human rights situation in the region, could face lengthy jail terms of up to 20 years. Indonesian authorities are also investigating West Papuans who met with the journalists and have detained and charged indigenous leader Areki Wanimbo.

Access to West Papua for international journalists is severely restricted. In the past journalists found travelling in the region ‘under the radar’ have been deported, but have not faced such a punitive response until now. Incoming President Joko Widodo promised an opening up of West Papua to foreign journalists during his campaign, so this is an unexpected and disturbing development. Please join us for a time of reflection and a time to plan action. We will launch an Open Letter to the incoming Minister of Foreign Affairs calling on our Government to advocate for the release all three detainees. For further information: Maire Leadbeater maire@clear.net.nz

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