Media release from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
A claim in today's Sun-Herald
newspaper that the Department of
Foreign Affairs and Trade sought to suppress a report on an incident at
Biak in Irian Jaya on 6 July 1998 is completely without foundation.
Even the most cursory examination of the facts would show the
allegation to be completely spurious.
The Biak incident occurred on 6 July 1998. The Minister for
Foreign Affairs raised it with both Mr Alatas (then Indonesian Minister
for Foreign Affairs) and General Wiranto (then Commander of ABRI) during
his visit to Jakarta from 8-10 July 1998. In his meeting with Mr
Alatas, Mr Downer raised the reports of protesters being killed the
previous week in Irian Jaya and urged ABRI to exercise restraint.
On 10 July 1998, Mr Downer gave a briefing on his visit to Australian
media representatives in Jakarta. He told them he had raised the
reports of violence taking place in Irian Jaya with General Wiranto and
expressed his concern.
The report on the Biak incident was given the appropriate security
classification which ensured it went to senior officers in all relevant
Departments and agencies.
All these facts were made clear to the Sun Herald reporter
before his story was published. Yet he chose to act on
misinformation from a source which has already proven neither credible
Inquiries: Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 2534/0417 219