Jan 27, 2006

UNPO on Refuge for Asylum Seekers in Australia and stop to violence against West Papuan

The Hague, 27 January 2006-

The Hague, 26 January 2006 - UNPO remains concerned about the situation for the asylum seekers who arrived in Australia on 18 January 2006 and has issued the following appeal to the governments of Indonesia and Australia.

On 20 January, Indonesian troops (TNI) unit 753 based in the Paniai region, West Papua, fired, apparently randomly, into a local market, causing the death of Mozes Douw, a 14 year-old student, and injuring two other young people. Human Rights workers report that the there had been a protest related a dispute (not directly linked to the situation of the refugees in Australia) outside the Police Station, where the shooting later took place. It is reported that after a policeman fired a warning shot into the air, soldiers opened fire indiscriminately upon the people at the market. Local sources report that there is an atmosphere in which further violence could occur and Human Rights workers fear the same.

This incident occurred two days after 43 asylum seekers, including independence advocates and their families, from the province of West Papua, reached northeastern Australia and voiced accusations of genocide against Indonesia. The teenager who was killed in the 20 January incident is said to be a close relative of one of the refugees.

Subsequent to their arrival the refugees were flown by the Australian Government to a detention centre on the remote Christmas Island, near Indonesia, where legal aid and community support is inaccessible.


Taking into consideration these developments, UNPO urges the International Community, and representatives of international human rights bodies, to endorse the following appeal.

Firstly, UNPO calls upon the Government of Indonesia

to take the necessary steps to bring to justice those responsible for the shooting incident on 20 January which caused the death of Mozes Douw and seriously injured two others;

to put an end to the human rights violations taking place in West Papua; and

to allow unrestricted access to all areas of West Papua for UN human rights monitors, international and local human rights organizations, in order to provide ongoing human rights monitoring.

Secondly, UNPO urges the Australian Government

to treat the refugees with respect and fairness, and give humanitarian consideration to their applications for asylum from persecution and human rights violations suffered in West Papua; and

to bring the asylum seekers to the mainland, away from the Christmas Island, where no legal assistance is available.