WEST PAPUA – PFF co-Chair Alexander Rheeney noted that West Papua is the most dangerous place in the Pacific for people to speak out.
“People who expose corruption in West Papua suffer assassination, disappearance, assaults, arrests, torture and prison”, said Rheeney, speaking from Papua New Guinea.
“Losing life and liberty is a high price to pay for fundamental human rights such as freedom of expression.”
Rheeney said that those who are suffering death threats and job loss should be able to seek refuge in safer countries to continue their work.
From Palau, PFF co-Chair Bernadette Carreon noted that Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani is the best known case of a journalist fleeing persecution, only to suffer detention as a refugee in the Pacific.
“Australian treatment of refugees has been inhumane, and break commitments to article 19 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
“Infogees such as Boochani should be seen as invaluable sources of information about the world around us, not punished for seeking liberty,” she added.
Boochani fled Iran after being arrested and interrogated by paramilitary intelligence officers investigating his reporting for a Kurdish language magazine, Werya.
PFF is calling for a clear resettlement policy that makes use of migrant skills to keep information from home countries alive.
PFF points to informal precedent already set by Australia and New Zealand for an ‘infogee’ category back in the 1980s, when pro-democracy migrants were forced to flee Fiji coups.
PFF notes MEAA, the Australian Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance describing Boochani’s reporting as being within the “finest traditions of journalism.” (PR) [/restrict]