Aussie deported from Indonesia in honeymoon nightmare

Posted by On 2:08 PM

Aussie deported from Indonesia in honeymoon nightmare

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Any foreign national who comes to Australia must abide by Australian laws. So what happens when they don't?

Australian PhD student Belinda Lopez will be deported from Indonesia. Picture: Twitter/@belle_lopezSource:Twitter

INDONESIAN authorities have denied entry and will deport an Australian graduate student who was travelling via Bali to Indonesia’s easternmost province of Papua on vacation.

Belinda Lopez, a PhD candidate for Indonesian studies at Macquarie University, wrote on social media that she had been detained at Bali’s Denpasar airport since midnight on Saturday and was told she was on a government blacklist.

Ms Lopez, who was formerly a reporter in Jakarta nine years ago, was set for a solo honeymoon after her husband found himself unable to travel. She had planned to visit friends in Bali and Java before heading to a tourism festival in Papua, according to a Twitter post.

But upon arriving at Bali airport, she was denied entry by immigration.

“I’ve been refused entry to Bali and have been held in a room at Denpasar airport... I am told I can only board a flight at 10pm tonight (Saturday), so that means I’ll be detained for nearly 24 hours before I’m deported,” Ms Lopez wrote on Twitter

“Immigration asked me if I was a journalist. Two staff members kept asking me if I had ‘done something wrong to Indonesia’.

She wrote the stressful ordeal had been “devastating for (her)” after visiting many times in the past.

“When I asked why I was black-listed the man actually said; ‘You should be telling us why you’re black-listed’, or something to that effect,” The Australian reported Ms Lopez said in a WhatsApp exchange this afternoon, as she sat in Ngurah Rai International Airport.

Ms Lopez wrote she had previously been deported from Papua in 2016, after being suspected of being a reporter.

“I was told it was an administrative matter... and meant I couldn’t return to the territory for six months,” she wrote.

“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.”

Papua has suffered a simmering separatist conflict since it was incorporated into Indonesia after a widely criticised UN-backed referendum in 1969 and remains one of its poorest regions.

Access to international media remains restricted.

Immigration office spokesman Agung Sampurno has denied Lopez was being depo rted on suspicions she was heading to Papua as a journalist.

“Belinda was barred from entering Indonesia on an immigration issue,” he told Reuters, confirming, though, that she was on an immigration blacklist.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widod has previously pledged to ease media restrictions for Papua, but human rights experts are sceptical. Picture: AFP

Indonesia’s President Joko Widod has previously pledged to ease media restrictions for Papua, but human rights experts are sceptical. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono said Ms Lopez’s “case shows once again that the Indonesian authorities are still restricting foreign journalists, or anyone suspected (of doing) journalism, to enter Papua.”

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo after coming to power in 2014 pledged to ease media restrictions for Papua, but activists say journalists continue to be blocked when trying to report from there.

In February 2018, a BBC reporter was ordered to leave the province after Indonesia’s military said tweets she sent on her trip had “hurt soldiers’ feelings”.

Source: Google News Indonesia | Netizen 24 Indonesia

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