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Issue #1613      October 2, 2013

West Papuans flown to Port Moresby

Refugee groups are concerned for the welfare and security of seven West Papuan asylum seekers flown overnight from Horn Island to Port Moresby.

The seven who arrived in Boigu Island in the Torres Strait are fleeing Indonesian military and police.

One West Papuan accused of promoting West Papuan independence and involvement in an independence ceremony on September 12 has been arrested by Indonesian police, while others are being hunted.

The seven are scheduled to meet officials from PNG immigration and the International Organisation of Migration at 8am (Friday, September 27).

“The Australian government has ignored the West Papuans request for asylum in Australia and hastily deported them to PNG. It has breached the West Papuans’ human rights and its obligation not to deport asylum seekers to danger. PNG will not provide protection for West Papuan asylum seekers,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“The Coalition government has ignored their right to claim asylum and conveniently removed the West Papuans to PNG to avoid aggravating diplomatic relations with Indonesia. It is shameful political expediency.”

Meanwhile, the Refugee Action Coalition has condemned Immigration Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement that Nauru detention will be expanded and that more family groups will be sent to Nauru.

“Nauru is a hell-hole that should be closed,” said Ian Rintoul. “The conditions are atrocious and it is unfit for anyone let alone families and children.”

Two asylum seekers have attempted suicide in the last week.

There are still only six toilets for over 300 people in the main (replacement) camp for single men, which was the site of the mass food poisoning outbreak a few weeks ago. There is limited water.

“While around 150 single men have been shifted from Nauru to Curtin detention centre in recent weeks, the others left behind are living in appalling conditions. They have not been told when they will be moved off Nauru. Around 200 are still waiting for the answer to their refugee assessments that were completed before the July 19 fire. There is no doubt there are genuine assessed refugees being held on Nauru and in Curtin” said Rintoul.

“Although scores of charges against supposed rioters have been dropped, others are still being kept in a separate fenced area of the main camp. Two of these asylum seekers are on hunger strike.

“The unseemly haste to expand detention on Nauru has left all the asylum seekers in dire straits.”

There are no adequate facilities for families in the family camp. Marquees are the only accommodation and the camp is located in one of the hottest places on the island, with no proper recreation area or health care.

There are also increasing reports of abuse and beatings by Nauruan guards in the main camp. Tension among the Nauruan community since fire destroyed the original detention centre is spilling over into brutal treatment by the guards.

“There is an urgent need for independent human rights oversight on Nauru. Nauru is another place that Scott Morrison wants to keep away from scrutiny.”

Next article – 2020 Olympics under contamination threat

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