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'Unfriendly' Australia Slammed by RI MP Over Papua Visas;
Downer Informs Hassa
 Tapol
 Mar 23, 2006 04:23 PST 


also: Downer calls Wirajuda to inform him of Papuan decision

Indon MP slams 'unfriendly' Aust over Papua asylum visas

By Rob Taylor and Heru Rahadi

JAKARTA, March 23 AAP - Australia's decision to grant temporary visas
to 42 Papuan asylum seekers is an "unfriendly" act and Indonesia must
protest, a senior Indonesian MP said today.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone today announced 42 of the 43
Papuans who landed at Cape York in January have received temporary
protection visas (TPV) and would be relocated from Christmas Island to
Melbourne.

The group have said they feared they would be killed if they were sent
home - a charge Indonesian officials deny.

A spokesman for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Dino Pati Djalal,
said Jakarta was still drafting a response to the announcement.

But Djoko Susilo, a nationalist MP and member of Indonesia's powerful
foreign affairs commission in the parliament, said the decision was
"too much".

"Giving asylum to them means Australia confirms what's been claimed by
the group," he told AAP.

"This is an unfriendly gesture by the Australian government."

The 36 adults and seven children, who include pro-independence
activists and their families, spent five days at sea in a dugout canoe
before arriving on Cape York in January.

They have accused the Indonesian military of conducting genocide in
Papua, a former Dutch colony taken over by Indonesia in the 1960s
following an independence referendum widely dismissed as rigged.

Yudhoyono phoned Prime Minister John Howard, saying the group should
not be given political asylum and should be returned to Indonesia,
promising they would not be harmed.

Djoko said the group should not be given asylum under any circumstances.

"The Indonesian government must mount a diplomatic protest," he said.

--------------------------------------------------------

Downer calls Wirajuda to inform him of Papuan decision

Canberra, March 23 (AAP) -- Indonesia's ambassador to Australia,
Hamzah Thayeb, was also invited to a meeting with the head of the
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Michael L'Estrange, to
discuss the immigration decision, Mr Downer's spokesman said.

The Indonesian embassy in Canberra declined to immediately comment on
the matter.

However Mr Thayeb said last month Australia's relationship with
Indonesia would be affected if the Papuans were granted asylum.

He said the refugees had no reason to claim persecution in Papua and
could be returned safely.

He also said any tribunal that heard the case should ensure evidence
was not one-sided.

Announcing the decision earlier today, Senator Vanstone said 42 of the
43 Papuans who landed at Cape York in January had received temporary
protection visas (TPV) and would be relocated from Christmas Island to
Melbourne.

"They will have access to the same services as other TPV holders,"
Senator Vanstone said.

She said a decision was still pending on one of the asylum seekers as
there were further, specific case issues to be addressed.

The 36 adults and seven children, who spent five days at sea before
arriving on Cape York, have accused the Indonesian military of
conducting genocide in their homeland.

The families have been staying in immigration housing on Christmas
Island while the single men have been kept in the detention centre.

Refugee groups have called for them to be released on temporary
protection visas since their arrival.

------------------------------------------
Joyo Indonesia News Service
------------------------------------------



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TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign
111 Northwood Road, Thornton Heath, Croydon CR7 8HW, UK.
tel +44 (0)20 8771 2904 fax +44 (0)20 8653 0322
tap-@gn.apc.org http://tapol.gn.apc.org


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