12 Aug 2008

West Papuan refugees don't want to return to Indonesia, despite minister's claims

10:25 am on 12 August 2008

A group of West Papuan refugees in Australia have dismissed claims by Indonesia's Foreign Minister that some of them want to return to the Papua region.

The Minister, Hassan Wirayuda, has told Australian media that some of the 43 West Papuan refugees who arrived in Australia in 2006 have indicated a desire to return to Indonesia.

However the spokesman for the refugee group, Hermann Wainggai, says the Minister's claims are a fabrication:

"Foreign Minister Wirayuda is very deliberately misleading the international community by claiming any improvement in conditions inside our homeland, West Papua. I haven't heard any from my colleagues about asylum seekers coming to Australia says they want to go back to Indonesia. It's because the situation in West Papua is still escaping words."

He points to the weekend incident, when a Papuan was killed by Indonesian police during a UN World Indigenous Peoples Day event in Wamena, as evidence that human rights in Papua are still under threat.