4 Feb 2006

High level Indonesian effort to get Papuans back from Australia

8:20 am on 4 February 2006

Indonesia appears to be continuing a concerted effort at the highest level of government to ask Australia to hand back a group of Papuans.

The boatload of 43 men, women and children arrived in Queensland last month holding a banner accusing Indonesia of committing genocide in Papua province.

Lawyers are expected to file asylum applications on their behalf as they are detained on Christmas Island.

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has personally guaranteed to the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, that the asylum seekers would not be harmed if they were returned.

Indonesia's ambassador to Australia, Hamzah Thayeb, says if the Australian granted the Papuans asylum, it would certainly have an effect on bilateral relations.