28 Apr 2006

Lost Papuans found alive

9:19 am on 28 April 2006

Eighteen people feared drowned while trying to flee Papua in a boat have been found alive in the troubled Indonesian province.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Human rights activists say the 18 are in hiding and fearful about their safety.

The group was among 21 Papuans who tried to leave Papua's capital, Jayapura, for Papua New Guinea last week.

It is believed an Indonesian naval patrol intercepted their boat in rough seas while some reports claim the boat collided with another vessel.

Three of the Papuans were taken to hospital in Jayapura last week where one died.

The other two were reportedly taken away for questioning by Indonesian security officers without consulting medical staff.

The Australian West Papuan Association says there have to be guarantees given for the safety of the 18 who were students and independence activists.

It says the Indonesian military is hunting activists in the wake of Australia's granting of protection visas to 42 Papuans.