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Asylum seekers ‘forced’ to attack Christians

By ANDRA JACKSON

The Age ( Australia )

A group of West Timorese is seeking asylum in Australia from Indonesia claiming they have been pressured into carrying out attacks against Christians in their village.

Mustafa Ridwan, 23, a Muslim from Alor in West Timor, said he and his brothers Supardi, 39, and Mahmud, 30, and a nephew, 18, fled Indonesia because they did not want to be enlisted in anti-Christian campaigns.

“Our situation was not safe so we came to Australia ,” he said from Christmas Island , where the group has been held for almost three months.

He said the group bought a boat in Sulawesi and went back to West Timor, where members picked up the wife and two children of one brother, and then sailed for Australia .

They bring to 50 the number of people who have fled Indonesia to Australia in the past three months, after 43 West Papuans arrived last week. All are detained on Christmas Island .

Mr. Ridwan said the seven arrived in Western Australia on November 3.

West Timor, under Indonesian rule since 1949, has one of the poorest populations in Indonesia , Jason MacLeod, a spokesman for the Australian West Papua Association said.

The Refugee Review Tribunal last week heard an appeal against the family’s rejection.