12 Oct 2013

West Papuan asylum seekers fear move near Indonesian border

10:04 pm on 12 October 2013

The seven West Papuan asylum seekers from Indonesia who Australia deported to Papua New Guinea last month have been told they will be moved to the Kiunga refugee camp in PNG's Western Province.

Australia controversially refused to consider their asylum claims, transferring them instead to PNG under an agreement that refugee advocates say is simply a device to circumvent the Refugee Convention.

But a spokesperson for the West Papuan group, which includes a 10 year old child, Jacob Mandabayan, told Don Wiseman they fear such a move.

JACOB MANDABAYAN: But I think in Kiunga it's not safe because it's really close to the border.

DON WISEMAN: What is your concern exactly, I'm mean what do you fear is going to happen?

JM: About our safety because it's really close you know Indonesian military or intelligence like their special force like Kopassus they can do anything to get us maybe they can kidnap us or maybe they can do everything that they want because this is what's happening to other activists in the past.

DW: If they were to cross the border looking for you and your mates, why would they do that?

JM: Because you know after everything that is done because we make many movements in Merauke as human rights activists. Indonesian government is not happy with us that's why maybe they are going to come and kidnap us because you know Australian immigration and PNG immigration don't treat us like a refugee, they treat us like criminals.

DW: Do you have any other options, what else can you do?

JM: I don't know, yesterday we asked for more time extension to think about the decision and we are asking to maybe they can send us to a third country like New Zealand but they didn't say anything.

DW: The prospect of being moved to a third country like New Zealand, how keen are you on that?

JM: Because I think if Australia doesn't want to receive us in Australia maybe we can stay in New Zealand because I think New Zealand is not close to Indonesia and New Zealand is going to be safe and we will be safe in New Zealand and because we have a 10 year old child here and he needs education too but if we stay in Kiunga is there any education to this kid?

DW: To go back to Merauke you say you were working as human rights activists and that's how you got on the off-side of authorities there. Tell us about the human rights work you were doing.

JM: We organised many movements, the last one was the Freedom Flotilla, we were involved in Freedom Flotilla.

DW: It was because of this work with the Freedom Flotilla that you felt you needed to get out?

JM: Yes because deputy chief of the police intelligence they kept hunting us but we were hiding place by place.

DW: So you're in this hotel in Port Moresby you've got guards on the door, do you know when this projected move to Kiunga is going to happen?

JM: They didn't tell us anything just seems like when Australia dump us in here this is the same style what they did to us here.