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Release of Papuan Asylum seekers demonstration

Indonesia Human Rights Committee,
Box 68-419,
Auckland

29 January, 2006

Demonstration for the release of West Papuan Asylum seekers

Supporters of West Papua will demonstrate on Tuesday 31 January 2006 at 12 noon outside the building of the Australian Consul, at Price Waterhouse Coopers Tower 188 Quay St Auckland (cnr Albert and Quay St - close to the Marine Museum.) A letter for the Australian Government will be delivered to the Consulate.

On January 18 43 West Papuan asylum seekers arrived at Cape York, the northernmost tip of Australia. They had just crossed 425 km of ocean in a traditional dug out canoe powered by an outboard motor. The Australian authorities promptly transported the group 4,000 km to remote Christmas Island where they are being held in a detention centre.

There can be little doubt that these brave people have a genuine and well-founded fear of persecution, since many of them are high profile supporters of independence or the children of activists.

Under the repressive control of the Indonesian military an estimated 100,000 West Papuans have lost their lives over the last four decades. Just two days after the refugees arrived in Australia, Indonesian troops opened fire in the Paniai district, killing a 13-year-old and wounding two others.

West Papuan leaders and academics say that the indigenous people may be wiped out because of new threats such as an HIV/Aids epidemic and the unchecked environmental devastation caused the exploitation of forestry and mineral resources.

While Australian immigration authorities have begun to process the claims, we believe that the West Papuans are entitled to the support of community groups and their fellow country people. They should also have easy access to translators, medical care and independent legal assistance.

We will call on the Consul to convey to his Government our plea for the immediate release of the "West Papuan 43" into the Australian community and for their refugee claims to be processed fairly and as expeditiously as possible.

ENDS

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