West Papuan National Day Goes Global

This Sunday the 1st of December 2013 events will be held across West Papua, Australia and the world to mark the day West Papua’s flag was first raised in preparation for Independence from the Dutch in 1961.

Global solidarity for a free West Papua is surging in the wake of the unprecedented public awareness generated by the Freedom Flotilla to West Papua and the occupation of the Australian Embassy in Bali during the APEC summit.

Supporters in Melbourne will be welcoming the arrival of Jeremy Bally, ‘Pedalling for Papua’, on the completion of his worldwide cycling tour raising awareness about the ‘slow-motion genocide’ in West Papua through his unique animated spoken-word ukulele performances.

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The last leg of Jeremy’s 12,000km journey will begin at Clayton Railway Station at 11am, Sunday 1st December. Cyclists flying Morning Star flags, will join him to ride along the Yarra Bike Path before being welcomed at St Paul’s Cathedral at 2pm. The riders will be welcomed by Taungurong Elder Uncle Larry Walsh, Greens Senator-elect Janet Rice, and the Freedom Flotilla with entertainment provided by David Bridie, Combat Wombat, a West Papuan String Band and traditional dancers.

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Protests against dumping of West Papuan Asylum Seekers in Abandoned Camp

Six West Papuan refugees who sought asylum in Australia before being deported to Papua New Guinea, have now been relocated to the Iowara refugee camp in East Awin.

At 11am 18th of October 2013 The Freedom Flotilla to West Papua, along with the West Papuan Melbourne Community, the Refugee Action Collective and Indigenous elders will gather to protest the unlawful deportation of the group at Department of Immigration and Border Protection on the corner of Lonsdale and Spring Streets.

Refugees living in Kiunga are bewildered by PNG Immigration’s decision to send a new group of asylum seekers to the camp, which was largely abandoned by refugees after UNHCR ceased providing assistance to the inhabitants in 1998.

Those that continue to live in the camps, surviving without any assistance on land affected by the Ok Tedi mine disaster, speak of the camps as a ghost town.

Anthropologist Diana Glazebrook recorded a West Papuan refugee’s experience living in the camps; “We are corpses, like dried bones without flesh or blood… We feel awkward and exist in a constant sense of hostility in our relation with the landholders, and vigilant, guarded; fearing repatriation by the government.”

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West Papuan Asylum Seekers Dumped in Remote Refugee Camp

Six of the West Papuans who sought asylum in Australia after being persecuted for their involvement in a ceremonial handover of sacred water and ashes as part of the Freedom Flotilla, were relocated under armed guard to Kiunga on Saturday the 12th and will be sent to a refugee camp in East Awin on Tuesday the 15th of October 2013.

The border refugee camp is home to thousands of West Papuan refugees who have fled from violence and persecution to PNG. Since 1986 the PNG government has practised a policy of relocating refugees to the remote camps, where their freedom of movement is restricted and their best hope is to one day gain a ‘permissive residency permit’ to allow them to live outside the camps.

10 year old Paskalis Mahuze (left) in Kiunga town on Sunday 13/10

10 year old Paskalis Mahuze (left) in Kiunga town on Sunday 13/10

Ruben Blake, spokesperson for the Freedom Flotilla said, “It is disturbing that Australia would be complicit in a policy of dumping refugees in a remote border region and leave them to fend for themselves. Australian mining company BHP Billiton dumped its tailings from the Ok Tedi Mine into the river, and now Australia is dumping its refugees in the affected area.”

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Refugee Action Collective: West Papuans taken to Port Moresby airport

The seven West Papuan asylum seekers secretly removed from Australia to Port Moresby in late September have been taken by police to the Port Moresby airport.

The asylum seekers have been under guard at their hotel since a meeting with PNG immigration offcials on Thursday afternoon.

At around midday today (Saturday, 12 October) police arrived at the hotel to escort them to the airport.

Police Guard airport preventing friends talking to asylum seekers

Police Guard airport preventing friends talking to asylum seekers

It is understood that they are being taken to Kiunga camp in the Western Province.

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Refugee Action Coalition: PNG RENEGES ON REFUGEE DEAL

WEST PAPUAN ASYLUM SEEKERS UNDER GUARD

The seven West Papuan asylum seekers secretly returned from Boigu Island to Port Moresby in late September are now under guard at the hotel where they had been taken on their return.

The seven asylum seekers were placed under guard after a meeting with PNG government officials late yesterday (Thursday) afternoon.

At that meeting, Immigration officials told them they will be taken to the isolated West Papuan camp, Kiunga, in Western Province close to the PNG border with Indonesia. There was no discussion of PNG processing their refugee claims.

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The group being taken by the IOM to PNG ICSA on Thursday 10/10

The officials told them that UNHCR could process their claims in the camp, but the UNHCR does not have a presence at the camp, or indeed, in PNG.

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Refugee Action Collective: Deadline looms for West Papuan asylum seekers in Port Moresby

The seven West Papuans secretly returned to Port Moresby from Australia a week ago have been given until tomorrow, Thursday 10 October to make an asylum application to PNG immigration authorities.

PNG authorities have told the asylum seekers that unless the application is made by Thursday, they risk being treated as illegal migrants. But the West Papuans believe that Australia has an obligation to process their claims and ensure their safety.

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“PNG’s ultimatum to the asylum seekers highlights the Coalition’s failure to uphold the rights of the West Papuans. Scott Morrison has admitted that the government did not follow the 2003 MoU and returned them to PNG despite the fact they had not been in PNG for more than seven days as required by the MoU,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

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Protests in Moresby and Melbourne against Unlawful Deportation

Seven West Papuan asylum seekers who were deported by the Australian government to Papua New Guinea after arriving in the Torres Strait last week have refused an ultimatum to either be returned to West Papua or claim asylum in PNG. The group includes a ten year old child and a pregnant woman.

Jacob Mandobayan, spokesperson for the group, said today “This ultimatum is not a choice. We have no option to return to West Papua as we would be arrested or killed. If settled in PNG we are still not safe from persecution.”

West Papuan protester at DIAC in Melbourne on 1st of October

West Papuan protester at Department of Immigration and Citizenship

“This is not a choice and its not a decision that we will be forced to make without legal representation. This is a decision that will decide the fate of our lives and the life of a child who is yet to be born. We have a right to be given time and legal representation in order to take further action” he continued.

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WEST PAPUANS REMOVED UNLAWFULLY; MORRISON’S EXPLANATION DOESN’T STAND UP TO SCRUTINY

Media Release from Refugee Action Coalition Sydney

 

Yesterday at his press briefing, Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, claimed that Australia had removed seven West Papuan asylum seekers to PNG last Friday on the basis of a 2003 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with PNG.

But that MoU only allows Australia to remove asylum seekers if they have been in PNG for more than seven days prior to their arrival in Australia.

The West Papuans repeatedly told Australian immigration officials that they had only been in PNG for two nights as they transited that country.

“It seems that the West Papuans have been unlawfully removed from Australia. The Minister has effectively kidnapped and refouled the West Papuan asylum seekers. Scott Morrison has sent these asylum seekers to danger,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

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Emergency Protest against Illegal Deportation to Place of Further Persecution

The West Papuan refugee community and supporters of refugee rights will protest at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship on the Corner of Lonsdale and Spring streets tomorrow from 8am till 5pm. The group will notify the department of their illegal actions in deporting seven West Papuan asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea, where they have well grounded fears of continued persecution.

The group of asylum seekers fled Merauke after being hunted by Indonesian security forces for their participation in a ceremonial handover of sacred water and ashes from Indigenous Australian elders as part of the Freedom Flotilla to West Papua. They then fled to Australia where they claimed asylum. The group was refused legal representation before being informed while already onboard an aircraft that they would be deported to Port Moresby, where they are now detained by PNG immigration.

The group fears for their safety in PNG, based on discrimination and persecution suffered by West Papuan refugees at the hands of PNG authorities.

PNG is a signatory to the Refugee Convention, however with significant reservations, including the rights of refugees to hold paid employment, have access to health care or education or travel freely. West Papuan refugees, many of whom have been living in PNG since the early 1980’s, have not been granted citizenship rights. Many live in squalid conditions without access to land or employment.

PNG military and police have carried out attacks on West Papuan refugee communities in PNG. In 2011 during Special Operation Sunset Merona refugee houses and gardens were burnt by the military. Witness to the aftermath of the tragedy, independent documentary filmmaker David Fedele reported, “They came at night, and burnt down all of their houses and possessions, and destroyed their gardens.”

Child in the ruins of burnt Refugee village. Photo by David Fedele

Child in the ruins of burnt Refugee village, the aftermath of Operation Sunset Merona. Photo by David Fedele

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HRLC: PM needs to put human rights in West Papua on Jakarta agenda

Media Release from Human Rights Law Centre

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been urged to use his first visit to Indonesia tomorrow to cast aside the wilful blindness previous Australian Governments have had when it comes to the serious human rights violations occurring a stone’s throw away in Indonesia’s Papua provinces.

The Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Communications, Tom Clarke, said the arrival of seven asylum seekers from Indonesia’s troubled Papua provinces and their subsequent swift removal, should be a reminder of the expectation for Australia to provide human rights leadership in our region.

Read the full Media Release from Human Rights Law Centre