17 Feb 2006

Australian public forum promotes understanding about Papuan asylum seekers

9:16 am on 17 February 2006

Australian Greens senator Kerry Nettle says a video statement by a spokesman from the 43 Papua asylum seekers held on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean will help create awareness in Australia's public about their situation.

The asylum seekers arrived last month in the far north of Queensland after a six-day voyage in a canoe from the Indonesian province of Papua before being taken offshore by Immigration officials for their claims to be processed.

The 43 are mostly activists in the Papuan independence movement, who claim they have fled continual persecution in Indonesia.

Ms Nettle last night spoke at a public Forum in Sydney called "West Papua, Refugees and Australia" .

She says the Forum will include the statement from one of the asylum seekers, Herman Wainggai, will help generate better understanding about the dangers she says they face in Papua.

"Bringing the footage of Herman, the spokesman for the West Papuans on Christmas Island to the people of Sydney last night to people in melbourne and the night before that to Brisbane. So just making sure that people hear the messages from the people on Christmas Island and what they've got to say about their own circumstances and more generally about West Papua."