Wed, 09 Mar 2005

Australian academic clarifies

In your article about my recent difficulties entering IndonesiaAustralian academic barred entry to RI, March 4, your journalist cites an anonymous source alleging that I had worked as an advisor to a Free Aceh Movement (GAM) activist in Canberra.

A similar allegation was repeated in your newspaper on March 5. This allegation is completely false. I have not worked as an advisor to anyone, much less GAM. As an academic I have always tried to maintain strict standards of scholarly neutrality and objectivity in my writing on Aceh, as on other aspects of contemporary Indonesia.

I am currently seeking clarification on the reason for my ban from the Indonesian embassy in Canberra. I hope that the reason is a misunderstanding that may quickly be rectified. In the meantime, I would appreciate it if your journalists would contact me when writing articles about my circumstances and especially before they repeat falsehoods from anonymous sources. As you are aware, once falsehoods appear in print, they sometimes become difficult for individuals to disprove.

EDWARD ASPINALL, Sydney, Australia