Beyond Bali: Foreigner Temporarily Banned from Visiting Papua and West Papua
Metrobali.com reports that the Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security (Menko Polhukam) Wiranto has defended the decision to temporarily ban foreign tourist from visiting the Indonesian Province of Papua as a necessary step to maintain the safety of foreign nationals holidaying in Indonesia.
The Coordinating Minister Wiranto said the current unrest in Papua would only be made worse if foreigners were injured or killed. “Let’s not have a situation in which we have to differentiate who are the foreigners are attempting to interfere in Papuan affair as opposed to those that are genuine tourists. It would be hard to separate the two and for that reason, we have temporarily banned their visits to the area,” explained Wiranto during a press conference on Tuesday, September 3, 2019.
Wiranto said foreigners will still be allowed to travel to Papua providing certain requirements set by the government can be met.
Wiranto refused to be drawn into a discussion of whether the prohibition of foreigners visiting Papua has any connection with four Australians recently apprehended for demonstrating outside the mayor’s office in Sorong, West Papua on August 27, 2019. The four Australian were all taken into custody and deported from Indonesia via Bali on Monday, September 2, 2019.
At a press conference, Wiranto refuted any claims that Indonesia is seeking help from the USA in handling the current unrest in Papua, saying Indonesia does not want its internal affairs to be interfered in by any foreign country. Adding: “There has been no request for help. This is a condition within our own country and all countries must respect each other’s sovereign territories. It can never be defended when one country interferes in the affairs of another nation.”
Questions were raised in some quarters whether Wiranto’s comments were at odds with pronouncements made by the Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko? Moeldoko, after meeting with the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, David R. Stillwell, in Jakarta. In that meeting held in the Presidential Palace on Monday, September 2, 2019, Moeldoko reportedly said that Indonesia wanted the support of the USA as regards the problems in Papua.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian government’s decision to limit foreigner from visiting Papua has been criticized by the Executive Director of Amnesty International, Usman Hamid, who said any limit on foreign visitors is in contradiction with the 2015 policy of the Indonesian Government to leave Papua open to foreign observers and visitors. Usman said the new policy would complicate Indonesian foreign policy causing it to be seen as weak and inconsistent. Usman said the closure of Papua to outside visitors would give the impression to the world community that something is happening in Papua and West Papua requiring government secrecy.
Wiranto refused to answer if the prohibition on foreigners visiting Papua also applied to journalists? Foreign members of the press are required to coordinate permits for any Indonesian visit from the Indonesian Department of Foreign Affairs.