BBC www.bbcnews.com Indonesia recalls Australia envoy
Mar 24, 2006 21:36 PST
2 March 2006
Indonesia recalls Australia envoy
Map showing Indonesia's Papua province
Indonesia has recalled its ambassador to Australia after Canberra granted
temporary visas to 42 Papuans from the Indonesian province of Papua.
Jakarta had strongly criticised the decision by Australia to grant the visas,
saying it "regretted" the move.
In a statement, it said the decision was counter to the spirit of co-operation
between the two countries.
Australia has sought to defuse the row, saying it did not indicate support for
Papuan separatist aspirations.
Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda said Indonesia had formally protested and the
ambassador was being recalled to Jakarta for consultations.
Forty-two Papuans, who arrived in Australia saying they were fleeing abuses by
Indonesia's military, were granted the temporary protection visas.
Jakarta said they had nothing to fear and had warned that granting asylum could
strain its relations with Australia.
The Papuans arrived in Australia by boat in January and were detained at a
holding centre on Christmas Island. A decision is still to be made on a 43rd
The decision is counter-productive and does not take into account the
sensitivities of the Indonesian people regarding this issue
Indonesian foreign ministry
Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said the Papuans would now be transferred
from the holding centre to Melbourne in southern Australia.
Indonesia's foreign ministry released a statement criticising the move.
"The government of Indonesia is surprised, disappointed and very much regrets
this decision," it said.
"The decision is counter-productive and does not take into account the
sensitivities of the Indonesian people regarding this issue.
"It is against the spirit of bilateral co-operation, especially in the field of
stopping illegal immigration."
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer attempted to assuage Indonesia,
saying the move did not imply any support for separatist aspirations in Papua.
A low-level separatist insurgency has been going on for decades in Papua, where
the Indonesian authorities are frequently accused of human rights abuses.
The group of Papuans reportedly includes leading pro-independence activists
Indonesia gained sovereignty over Papua - a former Dutch colony - in 1969.
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
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