West Papua updates

I thought there would be a lot of mentions of the West Papuan asylum seekers on blogs around the place, but I haven’t been able to find much. However, following on from my previous post, I have been receiving emails with some information about what is happening with the the asylum seekers upon their arrival on Christmas Island, and also of some events in West Papua. I thought it may be of interest to some readers if I reproduced that information here.

Whlie I have no way of independently verifying the information, the sources from Christmas Island have been highly reliable in the past, and I have also found previously found the same information channels about West Papuan events to be accurate.

    On Christmas Island

The West Papuan asylum seekers arrived on the Island around 11.15 pm (local time) Thursday night and were described as subdued and scared. 4 families have been released into housing at Drumsite (the name of a locality on the Island). The youngest child appears about 2 and there are kids that appear to be teenagers.

As of Friday afternoon, the 4 West Papuan families released into the CI community are isolated and under GSL guard. Local residents were told by GSL guards that they cannot have contact with them. DIMIA have told the West Timorese family already living in community detention nearby (and who are not under guard) not to try to make contact with the new arrivals.

    In West Papua

As mentioned in some media reports, 4 West Papuans from Paniai – the same area as some of the West Papua boat people who arrived in Australia this week – have been reported shot by TNI soldiers from Battalion 753 early on Friday morning.

One of the four, Moses Douw, aged 14, later died at the Enarotali health clinic. Two others – an 18 year old girl and a 23 year old man – were believed to have been flown to Timika for hospital treatment. (I was also sent names for these two , but I won’t put them here)

The troops are reported to have shot randomly into the community market at Waghete village in the Paniai region of West Papua. One student has been killed and three others have been seriously injured. (Firing into a public place reminds me a bit of the infamous incident at Santa Cruz cemetery in East Timor in 1991.)

Paniai is the same area as some of the West Papua asylum seekers who recently arrived in Australia come from.

The reason for the shootings was not clear. A clash between the TNI and local people in the area is reported to have occurred on 22 December 2005, though it was thought that this dispute was settled.

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13 Comments

  1. I am a west papuan but have been living here for most of my life.My family a group of about 25ppl and I came to Austrlaia as refugees.My parents had to flee indonesia baically for the same reasons as the west papuan asylum seekers that have just arrived in austrlaia. I don’t understand why they can’t be treated the same way we were treated when we first arrived in 1988.My family didn’t have to go to any detention centres we were allowed to live in the community. Now we are all australian citizens working and contributing to the community. We are really looking for all the support we can get for these west papuan asylum seekers. These people are genuine refugees looking for a safer place to live. Why are DIMIA so cruel????

  2. The less this makes the news the better for any remaining family members these people have. by all means do stuff on a behind the scenes level but the consequences aer all too real.
    The “free the refugees” mob have become used to not seeing any reason for keeping detainees identities suppressed, this is a different ball of wax alltogether. Many of the Middle eastern groups had the safety of distance, false papers, relatives in 3rd countries (relatively safe. These people are probably not as “streetwise”.
    I have used a dodgy name in the log in for a reason.
    Is Mr Bartlett aware of a group of Indonesians that landed around the time E. Timor was granted indipendence. I believe they were from Ambon, their passage through detention was successfully kept secret. I was at P. Hedland at the time and believe all or most of the group were Christians fleeing persecution.
    Im fairly sure you would be aware of the powderkeg that could have become if it had got out publicly. I have seen some statements from some refugee groups denying any links between the village shootings and this group.
    Let that be the public story, quietly get them through.

  3. Andrew.

    Whilst the Federal Government’s response is predictable, thanks for posting this subject to your site and I note the responses.

    It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the department to process their claims and I have no doubt that this will be an issue – raised when Federal Parliament resumes early next month.

  4. I’m sure Vanstone won’t hand the asylum seekers back – not least because it would be unlawful at the moment.

    I’m not sure ‘showering with praise’ is appropriate when someone just follows the law they are meant to be administering, but if she allows proper processing of their cases, I’ll be acknowledging it.

    Shoving them over on Christmas Island isn’t a good start though. It’s certainly lawful, but it’s unlikely to assist with prompt processing or with ensuring their claim is submitted adequately from the start – which just costs more money and more time.

    I should say hasten to add that Christmas Island itself is a beautiful place and I highly recommend visiting there – unless you’re an asylum seeker being put in detention that is.

  5. I agree with Andrew, it is so important that DIMIA process the Papuans claims properly. Already there are reports in the Indonesian media that they are not claiming asylum. This could be propaganda/lies from Indonesia or it could be DIMIA up to tricks.

  6. Tess T makes some interesting points – I might comment more on that next time I post on the Papuan situation.

    In regard to your question about the refugees from Ambon from a few years ago, yes I am aware of them. This group of 14 people actually arrived 6 years ago today – 23rd January 2000.

    That group were put on Safe Haven Visas (the ones originally introduced for the Kosovo refugees). This visa is for a set period, and prohibits application for any other visa (including a Protection Visa which is what refugees are normally entitled to).

    When the Safe Haven visas expire, the people are open to being returned. However each time the visas for the Ambonese expired, it was renenwed or ‘rolled over’. This happened at least 3 times. From memory, they were finally given more permanent visas around the end of 2005.

    Not having them formally assessed as refugees may have saved diplomatic embarrassment, but it also left the people in an insecure situation for over 5 years, which I don’t think is ideal.

  7. Yes Geoff – way too many. I’t not sure of the precise number, but I think there’s well over 100 sub-classes these days. There’s about 7 or 8 I can think of off the top of my head just for asylum seekers arrivals alone.

  8. I would like to get in touch with Petra Rumwaropen,I used to know her back in Vanuatu.
    She was about 4 then,I was 13.
    I would like to get in touch with her and the other Black Brothers&familiy.
    My father is also from West Papua,now living back in Sorong with my mother.
    Hope to get in touch.
    Sorry it’s off topic.

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