15 Oct 2009

Indonesia assures returning West Papuans refugees are safe

6:49 pm on 15 October 2009

The Indonesian embassy in Papua New Guinea has denied that West Papuan refugees who are repatriated to Indonesia will be in danger at the hands of the security forces when they return.

Indonesia's government is planning a mass repatriation of about 400 Moresby-based refugees next month, having offered to fund any West Papuans who want to return by the end of the year.

However, West Papuan advocate groups and refugee spokesmen in PNG have voiced grave concerns for the safety of those who return, claiming West Papuans who previously returned have been persecuted by the Indonesian military and often killed.

But embassy spokesman Joneri Alimin denies there is any threat.

"Indonesian government can guarantee that the people will be safe in the travel back to their home town. They will not be harassed while being returned to their homeland."

Joneri Alimin says all the West Papuans in the repatriation exercise are returning voluntarily.