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Journo union demands response from Indonesian President on Balibo

BaliboThe Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance has asked Foreign Minister Stephen Smith to raise the banning of Robert Connolly’s film Balibo with Indonesian President Susilo Bamban Yudhoyono during his visit to Australia this week.

‘The fact that the government of Dr Yudhoyono will not even allow the film to be shown to the Indonesian public suggests that this matter is far from resolved,” said MEAA’s federal secretary Christopher Warren.

“As far as this country’s community of journalists is concerned, the failure of Indonesian power holders to acknowledge and take appropriate action for what happened in Balibo in 1975 represents an important barrier to the development of full and cordial relations between Australia and Indonesia.”

Last week, the Jakarta chapter of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) has filed a lawsuit against the Indonesian Censorship Institute (LSF) for banning Balibo. Wahyu Dhyatmika, chairman of the Jakarta chapter of AJI, told the press that it was “[President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono]’s homework to clear up this matter”.

The LSF banned the film – about Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor and the Australian journalists who died covering the events – when it was scheduled to screen at the Jakarta International Film Festival last December. Private screenings were organised after the film was censored. At the time, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said the ban was to protect the international image of Indonesia, and Minister of Culture and Tourism Jero Wacik added that Balibo could damage relations between Australia, Indonesia and East Timor.

Yudhoyono will address the Australian Parliament tomorrow.

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