28 Jan 2006

Return Papuans, Indonesia urges Australia

8:27 am on 28 January 2006

Indonesia has urged Australia to return 43 Papuan illegal entrants, saying they won't be prosecuted.

The illegal entrants from Papua province were found around Cape York in Australia last week after sailing for six days in a traditional outrigger with a banner accusing the Indonesian military of conducting genocide in their homeland.

The Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda told reporters the president had talked on the telephone with Australian Prime Minister John Howard yesterday.

Mr Wirajuda said they were not people that they would prosecute according to law.

He said there was no reason to give them political asylum and therefore, they should be returned to Indonesia.

Australia has repeatedly said it considers Papua a legitimate Indonesian territory.

Human rights groups have accused the Indonesian military of widespread abuses in Papua to suppress a separatist movement.