Six Japanese documentary makers have been deported from Indonesia after being caught trying to make a film in the sensitive province of Papua without the correct visas, an immigration official said.
The men, who were working for Nagano Production House, were flown out of the country Thursday after being arrested while filming a documentary about tribespeople in the town of Wamena, said local immigration chief Yopie Watimena.
Indonesia is deeply sensitive about journalists covering the easternmost province, where a low-level insurgency against the central government has simmered for decades, and rarely grants visas for foreigners to report independently in the region.
The men were deported just days after Indonesia hosted the United Nations’ World Press Freedom Day.
Intelligence agency officials reported the documentary makers to immigration authorities after noticing them filming and they were sent to Papua’s provincial capital Jayapura for questioning before being deported.
The filmmakers only had tourists visas they had obtained on arriving in Indonesia, said Watimena in a statement released on Thursday.
In March, two Frenchmen were deported from the country after being arrested without the correct visas while trying to film a documentary in Papua.
As well as normal journalist visas, foreign media wishing to report on Papua have to go through a complex procedure that involves applying for permission from multiple government agencies, and it is rarely granted.
President Joko Widodo pledged in 2015 that the decades-old curbs would be lifted but rights groups say there has been no genuine opening of Papua to the foreign media.