10 Oct 2013

West Papuans ask for Australia's help and reject Abbott's claims

8:10 am on 10 October 2013

A group of West Papuan asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea have appealed to the people of Australia for help in their bid to be refugees there.

The seven arrived in the Torres Strait last month claiming to be fleeing persecution by the Indonesian security forces and were transferred by Australia to Port Moresby.

PNG Immigration has given them until today to decide whether to apply for refugee status in PNG.

One of the group, Yacob Mandabayan maintains Australia is obliged under international law to process their asylum claims.

He has rejected comments by Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott that things are 'getting better, not worse' in West Papua.

"Special Autonomy, it's not for the (benefit of) West Papuan people. It's only for other people who stay in West Papua because West Papuan people are still really, really poor, and really poor for education and health and everything like that, and activists like us still have to hide in the jungle."

Yacob Mandabayan.