JAKARTA, Indonesia — Six Japanese making a documentary about indigenous people in the tightly controlled Indonesian province of Papua were deported for lacking journalist visas just days after the country was the official host for World Press Freedom Day.
The head of immigration in Jayapura, the provincial capital, said the six who were working for Nagamo Production House were arrested on Monday and deported on Thursday.
The official, Yopie Watimena, said Friday they were traveling on tourist visas and had shot footage of the Mamuna and Korowai tribes in the hinterland of southeastern Papua.
It’s the latest in a series of arrests and deportations of foreign journalists despite President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s 2015 announcement that Papua and West Papua were open to the international media.
Indonesia was this year’s official host for U.N. World Press Freedom Day, which the government marked with a four day international conference in the capital Jakarta from May 1-4.
The event was criticized by activists for avoiding the issue of media freedom in Papua, where the Indonesian government is trying to smother a decades-old separatist movement.
The Japanese documentary makers were named as Toba Takashi, Kanemmitsu Toshiya, Takezawa Yoshihiro, Kozono Ryo, Kai Takuma, and Sugai Shuichi.