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Australia: Treat West Papuans like East Timorese

Treat West Papuans like East Timorese

Australian Greens Senator Kerry Nettle today called on the Federal
Government to treat the newly arrived West Papuan asylum seekers in the same way as the East Timorese who fled Indonesian repression in the 1990s by letting them live in the community, not mandatory detention.

"Australia should treat the West Papuan asylum seekers like we treated the East Timorese in the 1990s, claims for asylum should be assessed while they live in the community rather than locking them up in detention," said Senator Nettle.

"These people are our neighbours and we owe a historical debt to treat them with respect and dignity. They assisted our diggers in World War II and General Douglas MacArthur had his headquarters in the West Papuan capital Jayapura during the war.

"The Government has a chance to show it has learned from recent scandals and should now implement a better approach to asylum seekers by not putting them in a detention centre. They should not be sent to Christmas Island.

"Australia has accepted West Papuan asylum seekers in the recent past and with the escalation of repression of the West Papuan independence movement by Indonesia, there is a clear case that these people need our protection.

"They've trekked across the jungle and made a dangerous sea voyage. It is clear they are activists in the West Papuan struggle for freedom and independence. The Government should recognise this and treat these people with dignity and compassion.

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