30 Jan 2006

Papuan Asylum seekers clear about reasons for fleeing Indonesia, reports Australian Senator

8:45 pm on 30 January 2006

The group of Papuan asylum seekers detained offshore by Australian Immigration officials are reportedly in good health and pleased to have finally accessed outside assistance.

The 43 Papuans have been allowed their first outside contact since being rushed to Christmas Island since arriving at the far north of Queensland earlier this month after a six-day boat voyage from the Indonesian province of Papua .

A team of four lawyers has joined Immigration officials on the remote Indian Ocean island to interview the Papuans over the next fortnight and put in asylum claims for each one.

An Australian Greens senator, Kerry Nettle, also had access to the Papuans on the island at the weekend.

"Everyone that I've met has been in good health. These people are a group of student activists in the independence movement in West Papua, so they're very clear and very strong on why they're here, why they've had to flee West Papua, and also on what they want to achieve for their country."

Kerry Nettle says the asylum seekers have been allowed phone calls home and have reported about family members being terrorised by the Indonesian Military.