Australia's West Papuan refugee community and supporters of refugee rights will hold a protest rally outside the Department of Immigration and Citizenship on Monday from 8 am till 5 pm against the department's decision to deport seven West Papuan asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea, in spite of well grounded fears of their continued persecution.
A group of asylum seekers fled Merauke after being hunted by Indonesian security forces for their participation in a ceremonial handover of sacred water and ashes from Indigenous Australian elders as part of the Freedom Flotilla to West Papua.
The press released added that the group fled to Australia to seek asylum. However, authorities in Australia refused the group legal representation. The group was huddled onboard an aircraft and told that they would be deported to Port Moresby.
The asylum seekers are now detained by Papua New Guinea (PNG) immigration, where fears have been expressed for their safety, due to discrimination and persecution suffered by West Papuan refugees at the hands of PNG authorities, the release alleged.
Although, PNG is a signatory to the Refugee Convention, the release said, it has been denying refugees their rights. West Papuan refugees, many of whom have been living in PNG since the early 1980's, have not been granted citizenship rights. Many live in squalid conditions without access to land or employment, the release added.
The release also said, PNG military and police have carried out attacks on West Papuan refugee communities there.
In 2011 during Special Operation Sunset Merona refugee houses and gardens were burnt by the military.
"They came at night, and burnt down all of their houses and possessions, and destroyed their gardens," said David Fedele, independent documentary filmmaker who was witness to tragedy.
The release also quoted Western District Police Chief Silver Sika telling NBC News that anyone raising the West Papuan Morning Star flag would be arrested. The group says this is a clear threat to curtail the democratic rights of West Papuans living in PNG.
Freedom Flotilla spokesperson Ruben Blake observed "the deportation of these latest West Papuan asylum seekers is a cruel, cynical, inhumane and illegal action."
"The Australian Government is doing everything it can to avoid addressing human rights abuses in West Papua while Tony Abbott is in Indonesia seeking collaboration with his government's own abuses of refugees."
"Their speedy deportation was to avoid the courts having to process an asylum claim, which would have once again recognized persecution of West Papuans in Indonesia, as was the case when the 43 West Papuan asylum seekers arrived here in 2006. That would have been more than a 'passing irritant' to Tony Abbott, whose government is complicit in human rights abuses against West Papuans," he said.
The Australian Government's offshore processing arrangements in PNG are already under constitutional challenge in the High Court, the release added.
Freedom Flotilla organiser Ronny Kareni said, "The long history of widespread human rights abuses against West Papuans is well documented.
"The crackdown against welcoming ceremonies for the arrival of the sacred water and ashes, delivered by the Freedom Flotilla to West Papua, with four people charged with treason, and many more now in hiding, make it clear that there is still no space for cultural or political expression in West Papua," he said.
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