Refugees to decide future

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday October 8th, 2013


SEVEN West Papua asylum seekers will have to decide whether to return to Indonesia or live in Papua New Guinea as refugees.

They were brought to Port Moresby by the Australian immigration from Horn Island, in Australia, on Sept 26.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Jacob Mandayam said that they had no intention of coming to PNG and were unhappy with the manner in which they were being treated by the Australians.

“It took us about two weeks by land and sea to go to Australia and to be brought to PNG is unacceptable,” he said.

“Right now we have no plans on what we are going to do because we were dumped here without any further advice from the Australian immigration about where to go or what sort of action to take,” Mandayam said.

The seven are from Meroka, in West Papua, and had made their way to the PNG-Indonesia border where they met two fishermen from Kalu village, in West Sepik, who helped them with their boats to travel to Australia. Included in the group was  a woman and a 10-year-old.

The asylum seekers are now staying in a hotel in Port Mort Moresby.

Deputy Opposition leader Sam Basil said the treatment given to West Papuan refugees and asylum seekers needed to be addressed properly.

He said the treatment afforded the seven West Papuans  was not proper.

Basil said an asylum seeker is an asylum seeker as defined in the much-talked about asylum resettlement agreement between Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his then counterpart Kevin Rudd.

“Why have the West Papuans been given different treatment than similar boat people from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iran or Pakistan? The West Papuans are claiming similar stories of escaping like the others and they should all be sent to Manus for processing like everyone else.

“I am now asking the prime minister and the minister for foreign affairs and immigration to tell the  truth as to why the seven West Papuans are detained in a hotel here in Port Moresby since their drama in the Australian seas rather than being sent to Manus for processing,” Basil asked.

“I have been arguing from the beginning that as Members of Parliament, our role as legislators is to debate and develop laws and policies. We have also been elected by the people to talk about issues facing the districts, provinces and the nation without fear and favour but we have not done that on this issue,” he said.