These asylum seekers are Christians who are being persecuted in Papua and are seeking to escape this persecution by going to Australia, however the Indonesian government is saying that because they are “separatists” they should not be granted safety .
Asylum seekers in Australia once arrested for separatist activities: TNI chief
The Jakarta Post (02/09/06)
To read the full story, click here: Papuan asylum seekers once arrested for separatist activities
JAKARTA (AP): Several Papuans seeking asylum in Australia were once arrested for separatist activities, but they would be in no danger if they returned to the province, Indonesian Military(TNI) chief said Friday.
“They were once arrested for hoisting the (separatist) flag,” Gen. Endriartono Sutarto told reporters. “We could have detained them for life, but instead we released them. So, why are they nowclaiming that they are being threatened and pursued?”
A group of 43 people from Indonesia ‘s restive Papua province arrived in Australia last month by boat and have since requested asylum, claiming security forces were committing genocide intheir homeland in putting down a separatist movement.
Rights groups and foreign governments accuse security forces in Papua of committing extrajudicial killings and torture in the province. Activists say at least 100,000 Papuans — one sixth of the original population — have perished as a result of combatoperations since the Indonesian occupation in 1963.
Indonesia has insisted that the group, which includes women and a child, have nothing to fear in Papua, and warned that relations between it and Australia would suffer if Canberra granted them asylum.
Papua was integrated into Indonesia in 1969 after areferendum, since dismissed as a sham. A small separatist movement has battled Jakarta ‘s rule ever since.