The Indonesian government on Sunday announced that the foreign journalists who wish to cover the restive provinces of Papua and West Papua will not require any permits to enter the territory, reported Bangkokpost.com.
In the past, journalists and non governmental organization activists who planned to travel to the easternmost provinces had to receive permits issued by several government departments, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Police and the State Intelligence Agency.
Most of their requests to travel were turned down, particularly if they wanted to cover the activities of the separatist Free Papua Movement. Some tried to enter the provinces without permission at the risk of arrest and prosecution.
Indonesia took over the western half of New Guinea Island from Dutch colonialists in 1963 and incorporated the territory into Indonesia after a 1969 U.N.-sanctioned plebiscite.
Rebels of the Free Papua Movement, who are fighting for independence, have in the past kidnapped local people and foreigners, and attacked government security personnel in an effort to gain international attention.
“Foreign journalists wanting to travel to the restive provinces of Papua and West Papua no longer require special permits, a policy imposed over the past several years due to an insurgency in the region,” Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said on Sunday.
“From today, I allow all foreign journalists to travel to the Papua provinces just as they do to other parts of the country,” Jokowi said during a visit to the town of Merauku in West Papua Province,” Joko “Jokowi” Widodo added.