2 Jul 2012

Australian leader called on to press Indonesia to open Papua to the media

3:22 pm on 2 July 2012

The Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard is being called on to use today's meeting with the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to advocate for an end to the effective ban that prevents the international media reporting from Papua.

A spokesperson for Australia's Human Rights Law Centre, Tom Clarke, says the Prime Minister should make the most of Australia's special relationship with Indonesia to suggest tangible steps that Indonesian authorities could take to end the escalating human rights abuses in Papua.

Mr Clarke says the situation in Papua is a tinderbox.

He says last month's fatal police shooting of a political activist along with yet more reports of military violence in remote villages reveal how on edge Papua is.

Mr Clarke says Australia can and should play a proactive role in standing up for human rights and encouraging its closest neighbour to halt the violence.

He says media access is such a simple and reasonable request, yet its impact would be profound.

He says having independent journalists on the ground in Papua would help the world get a better picture of the human rights crisis unfolding there.