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.”
“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.
“Tony Abbott accused us of ‘grandstanding’, however it is his Government and Indonesia that is kicking us around like a football. This is not a game, we are running for our lives” he said.
Izzy Brown from the Freedom Flotilla to West Papua announced a protest rally in Melbourne at 12pm Friday the 4th of October 2013 at DIAC corner Lonsdale & Spring streets is to demand that Australia fulfills its obligation to process their asylum claims in Australia.
“They arrived here claiming asylum after fleeing directly from extreme and well documented danger in West Papua, Australia” said Ms Brown.
Refugee advocate Ian Rintoul reiterated that the 2003 Memorandum of Understanding with PNG had been unlawfully used to deport the asylum seekers. “The 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.”
Father Frank Brennan Professor of Law the Australian Catholic University wrote in Eureka Street “These Papuans were not engaged in secondary movement. They were in direct flight from persecution. The Abbott Government should recommit to our obligation under the Refugees Convention to grant asylum to refugees who have entered Australia in direct flight from persecution.”
Meanwhile in PNG the unlawful application of the 2003 MoU is also being opposed. A protest beginning at Constitution Park at 9am on Friday 4th of October 2013 will protest at the Australian High Commission, demanding that the group’s claim of asylum in Australia be heard, rather than Australia dumping them in PNG.
Fred Mambrassar, spokesperson for the PNG protest told NBC news, “Our message is, how come when they seek asylum in Australia and without processing their claims any further, the Australian government dumps them in Papua New Guinea? Papua New Guinea is not a good place for refugees.”
Many of the West Papuans who have sought refuge in PNG have not been processed as refugees, and do not have rights to employment, health or education.