19 Jan 2006

Australia holding 43 people who fled Indonesian province of Papua by boat

5:52 am on 19 January 2006

Australia is holding more than 40 people who have fled the Indonesian province of Papua by boat.

The 25-metre traditional dugout canoe landed at a beach campsite, north of the Aboriginal community of Mapoon yesterday.

30 men, six women and seven children were on board the boat, which was fitted with an outboard motor and was flying the outlawed West Papuan independence flag.

A banner on the boat carried the slogan "Save West Papua people from genocide".

The asylum-seekers were taken to Weipa by bus where they were interviewed by immigration officers and held overnight.