“Why not?” he said after returning from a visit to the United States. “There’s nothing that needs to be covered up. That would only raise questions. They can see the development we have made and inform others that Papua is a safe place.”
The statement is a marked departure from previous policies on foreign reporters operating in the restive province. Accredited journalists working in Indonesia previously had to apply for a travel permit from the Ministry of Home Affairs before officially traveling to the region.
The central government has a de facto ban on foreign reporters in Papua, which held applications to visit the region were in bureaucratic limbo. Those who traveled without written permission faced questioning by Indonesian authorities and possible expulsion.
The Jayapura office of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) has called the practice an unofficial, but purposeful, information blackout.
But Lukas, who was elected in April, promised journalists those days were over.
“Please, come to Papua,” he said. “It’s open for everyone.”
Indonesian security forces have fought a decades-long war with separatist organizations in Papua since it was annexed into Indonesia in 1969 in a vote widely seen as a shame by international monitors. [JakartaGlobe]