Oz student devastated after being barred from RI on what ‘was meant to be a holiday’
Dyaning Pangestika The Jakarta Post
Jakarta | Sat, August 4, 2018 | 03:23 pm
An Australian graduate student studying Indonesia and planning to visit Papua said she was devastated after being barred from entering the Southeast Asian country.
Belinda Lopez, a PhD candidate at Macquarie University in Australia, wrote on her Twitter account that she had flown to Indonesia for a holiday but had been told by officials at Ngurah Rai airport in Bali that she was “blacklisted” by Indonesian immigration authorities.
“I’ve been refused entry to Bali and have been held in a room at Denpasar airport on a couch since midnight. I am told I can only board a flight at 10 p.m. tonight, so that means I’ll be detained for nearly 24 hours before I’m deported,” she posted on Twitter on Saturday morning.
Belinda, who has worked as a subeditor for The Jakarta Post and The Jakarta Globe and made podcasts for the ABC, said she did not know why she was denied entry.
“Immigration asked me if I was a journalist. Two staff members kept asking me if I had ‘done something wrong to Indonesia’.”
Other than visiting her friends, Belinda said she was also planning to attend the Baliem tourism festival in Papua.
Immigration spokesman Agung Sampurno said Belinda had been denied entry due to “immigration matters.”
“Every country has the right to deny an individual entry to for various reasons. In Belinda’s case, it was only due to immigration matters,” he told The Jakarta Post over the phone on Saturday.
He dismissed the notion that she had been denied entry because of her past profession as a journalist.
“Situations like this are quite common. For example, the Australian government denies entry to our people every day without revealing the reasons.”
Belinda said she had visited Papua two years ago and that the immigration office refused to renew her visa over suspicion she was also doing journalism. She had been told at the time that she could return to Indonesia six months later.
“So why am I now on the Indonesian government blacklist? For how long? For what reason? For going to Papua? This is devastating for me,” she said. (ahw)
2) Australian woman detained in Bali over Papua link
By STEPHEN WRIGHT, Associated Press Aug. 4, 2018 Updated: Aug. 4, 2018 1:28 a.m.
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — An Australian graduate student whose honeymoon plans in Indonesia included a cultural festival in the insecure Papua region says she’s being deported after officials accused her of being a journalist.
Belinda Lopez told The Associated Press she was detained on arrival in Bali on Friday and has been informed she’ll be deported on a 10 p.m. flight Saturday.
She said immigration officials wanted to know if she was a journalist and repeatedly asked her if she had “done something bad to Indonesia.”Almost a decade ago she was an editor for English-language newspapers in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, and has produced podcasts for Australia’s state broadcaster. A freelance journalism site says she won awards in 2012 and 2013 for reporting, including a report on juvenile incarceration in the U.S.
She is currently a Ph.D student at Sydney’s Macquarie University, studying the cultural experiences of migrants to Java, Indonesia’s most populous island. Being deported is “devastating,” Lopez said.
“It’s the first place I moved to as an adult, have visited so many times since, to learn the language and to visit people who have become some of my best friends in the world,” she said in a WhatsApp message.
Her holiday plans included the Baliem festival in the easternmost Papua region that Indonesia strictly polices and restricts foreign journalists and diplomats from visiting.
A pro-independence insurgency has simmered in the Melanesian region since it was annexed by Indonesia in the early 1960s. Indonesia’s police and military are frequently accused of human rights abuses in Papua. A recent Amnesty International report documented 95 unlawful killings by security forces in Papua since 2008.
Lopez said she was refused a visa renewal two years ago in Papua because officials suspected she was a journalist. At that time they said she couldn’t re-enter Indonesia for six months, according to Lopez.
The head of the Immigration Office at Ngurah Rai airport in Bali, Amran Aris, said Indonesia’s military had added Lopez to a government blacklist as a “covert journalist.”
He said he couldn’t give other details because it’s a state secret.
“We only carry out the duties as her name is listed on the government’s blacklist, so we have to refuse her entry,” said Aris.