West Papuans battling for independence have new hope after recent events propelled their deadly but usually hidden struggle into the global spotlight.
Risky activist ventures undertaken by pro-independence organisations have made headlines in Australia and Indonesia in the past months, especially three young West Papuans who jumped the fence of Australia’s Bali consulate as world leaders including Prime Minister Tony Abbott arrived for an APEC meeting.
But it was in New York a week earlier that Papuans and commentators alike say the independence cause made history.
In a United Nations General Assembly speech for which many West Papuans had waited decades, a head of state – Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Moana Carcasses Kalosil – for the first time called on the UN to reconsider Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua.
Read the full story from Sky News
Australia’s West Papuan refugees are celebrating new hope after a convergence of events has put the push for their homeland’s independence on the international stage.
Even seasoned observers now say a ”slender hope” on the part of West Papuans is justified after Vanuatu Prime Minister Moana Carcasses Kalosil questioned Indonesian sovereignty in the territory in a ”historic” United Nations General Assembly speech.
“Everybody understands that West Papua is next,” Rex Rumakiek, the general secretary of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation, tells Fairfax Media from his Canberra base.
Read the full story from The Age
West Papuan activists are testing Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s statements in relation to his asylum-seeker boat turnback policy, that he has “total respect for Indonesia’s sovereignty, total respect for Indonesia’s territorial integrity”. So far, they are having little luck.
As Abbott was preparing to leave for Bali, three West Papuan activists scaled the wall of the Australian consulate-general in Bali. The activists delivered a letter seeking the release of political prisoners jailed in Indonesia and free access to the long restricted region by the international media.
The letter also said: “We seek refuge and plead for our safety.” Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb told the ABC that the men did not seek asylum for themselves, and left voluntarily within hours, and had gone into hiding.
Last week, seven West Papuans travelling by boat from Papua New Guinea to Australia seeking asylum and were returned to PNG. The legality of sending the asylum-seekers back remains in question.
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AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): Three West Papuan student activists entered the Australian consulate in Bali this weekend with calls on Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to open up for greater press freedom and push Indonesia to release at least 55 political prisoners jailed in the Indonesian-ruled region.
“We want the Indonesian government to lift the 50 year restriction it has imposed on West Papua.
“We want foreigners, including journalists, diplomats, observers and tourists to be able to visit West Papua freely without asking for special permits,” the West Papuans wrote in an open letter addressed to the Australian people.
Read the full story from the Pacific Media Centre
Tony Abbott’s attack is the latest episode in a long tradition of Australian complicity in Indonesian state terror writes Kristian Lasslett
Barely two weeks into office and Australia’s prime minister, Tony Abbott, has committed his government to upholding an appeasement policy that has seen Australia entangled in some of the worst human rights abuses imaginable in the neighbouring region of West Papua, where a struggle for independence has been waged for over four decades.
The Abbott government’s intentions, in this respect, were loudly signalled following the arrival of seven West Papuan refugees in the Torres Strait Islands last week. The asylum seekers told Australian government officials they feared persecution at the hands of the Indonesian authorities after supporting a Freedom Flotilla, which had set sail for their province.
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Refugee advocates in Australia want the United Nations to take action over what they say is the Abbott government’s failure to abide by the Refugees Convention.
This comes amid campaigns to have seven West Papuan asylum seekers assessed for refugee status in Australia, after the government flew them from Queensland to Papua New Guinea last week.
There is also a call for New Zealand to offer the group asylum.
Read the report from Radio New Zealand
TERRITORIANS have turned out in support of three West Papuan students who entered Australia’s consulate in Bali and pleaded with the Federal Government to take up their cause.
A small number of dedicated supporters gathered outside a barber shop near the Nightcliff Markets to voice their fears about human rights in the troubled Indonesian province that lies to Australia’s north just above the Torres Strait.
West Papuans have been fleeing to Australia in recent weeks.
There have been reports of an unconfirmed number now being held in Darwin detention centres.
Billee McGinley, 38, of Ludmilla said West Papuans face the possibility of torture at home.
“It’s a huge human rights issue,” she said. “They have a right to seek asylum here.”
Read the full story from NT News
The Netherlands-based advocacy group Foundation Pro Papua says the seven Papuan asylum seekers deported from Australia should be given the option to test their legal rights under the Refugee Convention to claim asylum and protection in Australia.
The seven asylum seekers from Indonesia who Australia deported to Papua New Guinea rejected a PNG ultimatum on Thursday to either be returned to West Papua or claim asylum in PNG.
Foundation Pro Papua group says it’s shocked to learn of the deportation of the West Papuans asylum seekers from Australia’s Horne Island.
Read the full article from RNZI
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