26 Sep 2008

Indonesia facilitates return of Papuan refugees from Australia

2:03 pm on 26 September 2008

The Indonesian government has reiterated its stand that 43 West Papuans who sought political asylum in Australia in 2006 were not facing persecution in their homeland.

The granting of refugee status to the group was at the heart of a diplomatic rift between Australia and Indonesia.

However Jakarta has just facilitated the return of two of the refugees, Hana Gobay and Yubel Kareni, to Papua this week.

A spokesman for the Indonesian embassy in Australia, Dino Kusnadi, says the return proves that the Papuans are not at risk in their homeland as was claimed in 2006.

He says it's has been a well thought-out process.

"So it wasn't sort of in a hurry and so forth - they had lots of time to think about that and they also contacted the embassy for quite some time. After assuring that they were in deed genuine to return back to Indonesia and of course fulfilling our duty to protect our nationals and to assist in a humanitarian way, that's what we did."

Dino Kusnadi