Dyaning Pangestika, Jakarta – 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.
This is not a joke: I'm blacklisted by the Indonesian government.Saya termasuk dalam daftar tangkal Indonesia (terjemahan dibawah). pic.twitter.com/diMWQhPC6h – Belinda Lopez (@belle_lopez) August 3, 2018
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)