19 Jan 2006

Indonesian embassy in Australia dismisses reports boat people fled a dangerous domestic situation

2:19 pm on 19 January 2006

A spokesman for the Indonesian embassy in Australia says media reports that a group of Papuan asylum seekers has fled a dangerous domestic situation in Indonesia are baseless.

Australian Immigration officials are holding 43 asylum seekers who left the Indonesian province of Papua by boat six days ago and arrived at a beach in Cape York in Queensland yesterday.

The Australia West Papua Association says the Papuans, who have been linked to the independence movement in the province, have fled for security reasons.

But Dino Kurnadi of the Indonesian embassy says this is not a usual immigration case.

"The basis for their request for asylum - that their human rights have been violated and that they did not have any democracy in Indonesia, or that there is an alleged military force out to get them - that's baseless. The current condition in Indonesia is not as what they described. So again, if they want to use that argument as mentioned in the media, I can say it is just baseless and won't hold up to requests for asylum."

Dino Kurnadi says he is travelling to north Queensland with other Indonesia officials to verify the status, identity and intentions of the boat people.