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

West Papuans Deported to Port Moresby, Refused Legal Advise.

Seven West Papuan asylum seekers who fled Merauke after being persecuted for their involvement in a ceremonial handover of sacred water and ashes from Indigenous elders as part of the Freedom Flotilla, were deported to Port Moresby last night, 26th September, 2013.

The group who arrived in Boigu Island in the Torres Strait on Tuesday night were to transported to Saibai Island before then being taken to Horne Island. The seven were denied requests for legal representation while on Horne Island. They were then told they would be flown to mainland Australia, but once already in flight they were told their destination was Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

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West Papuan Refugees Flee to Australia After Cultural Ceremony with Indigenous Australians

Six West Papuans have fled across the border to Australia after being hunted by Indonesian authorities for participating in a ceremonial handover of sacred water and ashes from Australian Indigenous Elders. They have been detained by Australian Immigration after reaching Boigu Island in Australia on Tuesday.

The peaceful ceremony was the culmination of the Freedom Flotilla from Australia to West Papua, and was intended as a symbolic reunification of the peoples and struggles of Indigenous West Papuans and Australians. However, it had to be conducted in secret after Indonesian authorities refused permission for the Australian participants to enter Indonesian waters and threatened to arrest or respond violently to their arrival.

Indonesian authorities also refused permission for Papuans to hold a welcoming ceremony for the Freedom Flotilla in their destination port of Merauke, where police and military surrounded the house of the welcoming committee’s chairman Jhon Wob. Despite this intimidation, a small ceremony was held later in the day at a remote beach, sending origami boats south towards the Australian mainland.

yakob and hendra2

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West Papuans Arrested for Organising Welcoming Procession

Four West Papuan community leaders were arrested on Wednesday the 18th of September, 2013 after sending a letter to the Biak police station informing them of a procession planned to welcome the sacred water and ashes delivered by the Freedom Flotilla, as well as to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Biak Massacre. The four remain in custody and may be charged with treason.

The four arrested are Piet Hein Manggaprouw, 56, Klemens Rumsarwir, 68, Yoris Berotabui, 36, and Yan Piet Mandibodibo, 30.

The men were held in separate cells and interrogated without being given food from 9am Wednesday the 18th until midnight Thursday the 19th of September, 2013. They have been threatened with charges of treason, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Federated Republic of West Papua (FRWP) Deputy Prime Minister, Frans Kapisa and Minister of Defence, Elieser Awom attended the recent cultural exchange with the Freedom Flotilla in which they received the sacred water and ashes as part of a ceremony of symbolic re-unification of the cultures and struggles of Indigenous Australians and West Papuan peoples. Kapisa and Awom intended to travel to Biak carrying the sacred offerings and the four men arrested were planning the welcoming on their arrival.


Frans Kapisa and Elieser Awom at Manokwarit Welcoming Ceremony 13th September 2013

Hundreds of people held a welcoming for the sacred water and ashes in Manokwari on the 13th of September 2013 in a peaceful and jubilant celebration of Papuan culture.

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Perjalanan Damai Freedom Flotilla Dihalangi Oleh Kekuatan Militer Indonesia

Freedom Flotilla telah kembali ke perairan Australia, setelah berlayar di sepanjang wilayah perbatasan antara Australia dan Indonesia sejak hari kamis malam (12/09), untuk menunggu respons dari Pemerintah dan Angkatan Laut Indonesia untuk mendapat ijin memasuki wilayah West Papua, yaitu Merauke.

Freedom Flotilla telah mencoba berbagai cara untuk berkomunikasi melalui SMS, telepon, email, surat dan mengirim utusan pribadi ke Kedutaan Besar Indonesia di Canberra, tetapi tidak mendapatkan respon dari pihak Indonesia. Akan tetapi mereka berusaha untuk menghalangi perjalanan Flotilla menuju stop terakhir.

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West Papuans celebrate arrival of sacred water and fire, despite intimidation by Indonesian military

A number of events took place across West Papua today to celebrate the arrival of sacred water and fire from the Freedom Flotilla.

In the port city of Marauke, a planned community event which was to be attended by 17 tribes from around the region was stymied by authorities. The head of police and five intelligence officers hand delivered a letter to one of the organisers prohibiting any ceremonies for the reception of the Freedom Flotilla. Police and intelligence officers stationed themselves around the house of the organiser this morning, preventing it from taking place.

“The town was crippled by the combined forces of navy, police, State Intelligence Agency (BIN,) Kopasus and military who monitored the movement of ordinary people and the Flotilla organisers throughout the day.  Plan B was to escape in few vehicles to a safe location and travel by boat for few kilometres to a nearby beach and this is where the sacred ceremony was carried out,” explained Ronnie Kareni

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The Pog, flagship of the Freedom Flotilla has returned to Australian waters, following threats made by the Indonesian military and a successful cultural exchange between indigenous elders from Australian and West Papua.

The Pog had sailed along the border region between Australia, PNG, Indonesia, making repeated attempts to open a dialogue with the Indonesian navy. The non-violent nature of the action was reiterated in communications via SMS, phone calls, emails, letters and in person at the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra. However the Indonesian Navy had not respected calls to dialogue with the Freedom Flotilla, not acknowledged that the peaceful protest vessel was unarmed, and not ruled out force being used to turn the boat back.

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Freedom Flotilla Melengkapi Misi Sakral

Menghindari Angkatan Laut Indonesia , dua kapal kecil bertemu di dekat perbatasan Australia – Indonesia untuk menyatukan kembali masyarakat pribumi Australia dan Papua Barat secara seremonial. Upacara ini merupakan puncak dari perjalanan sejauh 5000km yang dimulai di Danau Eyre, dimana air dan abu sacral diambil dan diserahkan kepada para pemimpin Papua Barat .

Sementara kapal Freedom Flotilla yang disebut Pog berlayar menuju Papua Barat , dunia menyaksikan perkembangannya secara langsung melalui fasilitas satelit diatas kapal yang juga berperan sebagai pengalih perhatian agar pertemuan seremonial ini bisa dilakukan secara rahasia di bagian Pantai selatan Papua.


Pertukaran budaya tetua Adat diadakan secara rahasia, karena ancaman dari menteri menteri pemerintah Indonesia dan pejabat militer yang menyatakan bahwa angkatan laut dan angkatan udara akan mengambil tindakan  terhadap aksi damai ini dengan tidak mengesampingkan penggunaan kekuatan mematikan. Calon Menteri Luar Negeri Australia Julie Bishop juga menyatakan bahwa Indonesia dapat melakukan  apa saja “sesuaI keinginan ” untuk menghentikan aksi damai ini.

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