W Papuan refugees hail citizenship deal

The National,Friday July 1st, 2016

A WEST Papuan leader, William Brabar, has welcomed the Government’s decision to grant them citizenship without having to pay the eligible fee of K10,000.
Brabar, originally from Biak, had crossed over the PNG-Indonesian border in 1969 and said that he applied for citizenship eight times but the Government did not respond.
“I have been teaching in Port Moresby, Wewak and Vanimo for 40 years and welcome the decision,” he said.
“I submitted my application eight times and have not heard anything from the Government. I have contributed greatly to the human resource development. My students are medical doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers and serving in other professions   everywhere.”
Brabar said that one of his sons was a mobile squad policeman and was killed by rebels in 1996 Bougainville crisis.
“He was not a citizen when he died. But during his funeral service at Taurama Barracks, his officer declared that my son was a citizen.  It was a mockery to me for my son to be declared a citizen when killed serving the country as a refugee.  I almost got a rock to smash his casket. We have been denied our rights and now things are coming out quickly. I urge all west papuans to use the opportunity to get registered.”
Another west papuan leader, Hank Katam, also welcomed the decision as he had missed many opportunities to further his education.
“I was doing my Grade 9 in Brisbane in 1980 but was unable to continue because I only had a Certificate of Identification. My certificate needed to be reviewed every six months so eventually the Australian authorities deported me.”
“I also applied numerous times to become citizen without success,” he said.
More than 10,000 west papuan refugees have lived in PNG since 1962 after fleeing persecutions from the former Indonesian government.