Green Left: West Papua, Freedom flotilla exposes Indonesian repression, Australian complicity

Duncan Roden

October 2nd, 2013

A group of West Papuan asylum seekers arrived in Australia on September 24, defying the Australian government and potentially raising already high tensions between Australia and Indonesia over asylum seekers.

The group of West Papuans includes six adults and a child. It has been reported the group had some connection to the West Papua Freedom flotilla, in which supporters of freedom for West Papua tried to sail to the Indonesian-occupied territory. The flotilla sparked by Indonesian authorities on its West Papuan organisers (sic).

The original plan was to welcome the flotilla in the Papuan port city Merauke. But the head of police and intelligence officers hand-delivered a letter to an organiser, prohibiting any ceremonies from taking place. The organiser’s house was then surrounded by police.

This repression forced the welcoming ceremony to take place in secret. Wile international attention was focused on the flotilla’s one remaining vessel, The Pog, as it continued towards Indonesian waters, a small group of activists travelled to the secret location at a remote beach.

Read the full article from Green Left Weekly

SBS: Was it legal to deport West Papuans to PNG?

Murray Silby, Greg Dyett and Stefan Armbruster

October 2nd, 2013

Questions are being raised over whether Australia acted lawfully when it sent seven West Papuan asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea after they were apprehended in the Torres Strait.

Greg Dyett and Stefan Armbruster reports.

People in fear for their lives or political activists intent on grandstanding?

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the seven are in the latter category and it was appropriate for them to be transported to Port Moresby under a 2003 Memorandum of Understanding with Papua New Guinea.

The seven from the Indonesian province of West Papua, including a 10-year-old child, took part in a ceremony involving the handover of sacred water and ashes from Australian Indigenous elders.

Listen to the story from SBS Radio

SMH: Tony Abbott appears to waver on key parts of his contentious asylum seeker policy

MICHAEL BACHELARD

October 1st, 2013

Tony Abbott has repeatedly refused to say if his signature policy of turning asylum seeker boats back to Indonesia will ever be put into practice.

Asked in Jakarta on Tuesday if his Operation Sovereign Borders would push back any boats he said that, based on his conversations with the Indonesian government, including Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, “we are confident that this problem will be dealt with”.

Asked again, “Will you still turn boats back?”, Mr Abbott replied: “Again, my object here is to stop the boats. And in order to ensure that the boats are stopped I want to have the best possible relationship with Indonesia.”

Asked if he stood by the policies he took to the election, he said: “Of course we stand by our policies, but above all else we want to work effectively to stop the boats. In the end that’s all that really counts: have we stopped the boats.”

Indonesia has opposed the turn-back policy since March, 2010, when Mr Abbott first announced it.

The Prime Minister’s comments seem to concede that he may abandon it as part of a willingness to negotiate a bilateral approach to the issue in meetings on the subject due to convene in coming weeks.

He also appeared to waver on other parts of his contentious policy, saying that village spies and buy-backs of fishing boats were nothing more than a pot of money available to local Indonesian officials “working cooperatively with their Australian counterparts to ensure as far as we can we’ve got people working with us rather than against us”.

He was not asked to comment on the policy of establishing transit ports on Indonesian soil for Australia’s use in moving asylum seekers to Nauru and Manus Island.

Mr Abbott’s apparent concessions to Indonesian sensitivities comes after Dr Yudhoyono conceded on Monday that Indonesia must negotiate directly with Australia on the boats issue, not just through the forum of the Bali Process.

Read full article

ABC Radio: Concern Australian government is ignoring West Papuan asylum seekers plight

Updated 1 October 2013, 14:03 AEST

An Australian activist group says the Australian government is doing its best to wash their hands of the plight of a group of West Papuan asylum seekers, which have been transferred from the Torres Strait to Papua New Guinea for processing.

An Australian activist group says the Australian government is doing its best to wash their hands of the plight of a group of West Papuan asylum seekers, which have been transferred from the Torres Strait to Papua New Guinea for processing.

A spokesman for Freedom Flotilla, Ruben Blake says the asylum seekers took part in a welcoming ceremony involving the handover of sacred water and ashes from Australian Aboriginal elders in the Indonesian province of West Papua.

Listen to the full story from ABC Radio

 

SBS: Freedom Flotilla may upset Abbotts visit to Indonesia

Posted on September 29th, 2013

Brooke Boney

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has come under fire on a Indonesian newspaper after 31 people died trying to reach Australian shores.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison confirmed today that four asylum seeker boats had arrived in the last week, including a small group of Papuan activists with links to the Indigenous Freedom Flotilla.

Mr Abbott left Sydney today on his first official visit as Prime Minister and he’s headed to Indonesia. But with the heads of 30 Pacific Nations set to meet in less than a week at the APEC summit, the Freedom Flotilla and West Papuan asylum seekers could be an unwanted topic of discussion for a prime minister looking to strengthen relationships with Indonesia.