14 Feb 2007

Composer unhappy over Indonesian interference in Wellington concert

8:05 pm on 14 February 2007

An Australian composer says the rights of New Zealanders have been infringed by the Indonesian embassy forcing him to withdraw a piece of music from Wellington's Asia Pacific festival.

At a concert, Dr Martin Wesley Smith was to present an audiovisual composition called Papua Merdeka which focussed on the plight of the indigenous people of the Indonesian province.

But he was forced to present it at a closed session after the Indonesian embassy raised its concerns with the organisers.

Dr Wesley Smith says it is an issue of free speech.

"That New Zealanders are denied the right to hear and see what they would like to, perhaps, by pressure from a foreign embassy, which I wouldn't be happy aboutr if I was a New Zealander."

Tri Purnajaya from the Indonesian embassy in Wellington says they didn't pressure the organisers to withdraw the piece but were concerned that it would upset visitors.

It might hurt the people from Indonesia who are here also - their feelings - to talk about Indonesia in a different way will somehow, I think, cause them to feel upset.