26 Sep 2013

West Papuans held by Australia after fleeing post-Flotilla crackdown

1:23 pm on 26 September 2013

Six West Papuans are reported to have fled across the border to Australia after being hunted by Indonesian authorities for their involvement in the West Papua Freedom Flotilla exchange.

The Flotilla campaign says the six were detained by Australia's Immigration department after they reached Boigu Island by boat on Tuesday.

They are understood to have been involved in a ceremonial handover of sacred water from Australian indigenous elders on board the Flotilla earlier this month.

The group of Australia-based activists was denied entry to Indonesia but was met near the sea border by a group of West Papuans on boat.

The Flotilla campaign's spokesman, Ruben Blake, says they have strong evidence that the six were persecuted by Indonesian security forces following the exchange.

"We do have fears for their safety and that if they were to be - as the Australian Prime Minister would have it - their boat turned back to Indonesia, that would be a major safety concern as they'd be returned directly to the place where they've fled from persecution."

Ruben Blake