Tuesday, January 31, 2006

asylum seekers face death if sent back to Papua

The ABC reports "Australian refugee advocates say they are alarmed by the Indonesian Government making a direct request to Prime Minister John Howard for the return of 43 Papuans.

Indonesian President Suslio Bambang Yudhoyono has assured Mr Howard that the group will not be prosecuted if they are returned.

The asylum seekers are currently being held on Christmas Island, off the coast of Western Australia, claiming genocide at the hands of the Indonesian Government.

Rob Wesley-Smith from the group Australians for a Free West Papua says the asylum seekers should be dealt with according to Australian law.

"The people have escaped from there because their lives are at risk," he said.

"Their fathers have been killed, one of them was in jail for a number of years himself, and this is the reality of the situation in West Papua - so no way should they go back - they'd be killed."

Mr Wesley-Smith says they seem to have valid claims for refugee status.

"There's evidence that some have been mistreated and tortured and they're a cohesive group and strongly politically motivated, and that there is no way that they would be seen as a group to be sent back - that that's just a preliminary assessment," he said."

This will be another test of decency for the Howard government, but with the polls in their favour don't be surprised if the geopolitical expediency card gets played again. After all, in this country we tell melanesians what to do, not the other way round...and don't mention the war!

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