22 Mar 2006

Indonesia considers banning Australian senator over Papua violence

6:57 pm on 22 March 2006

Indonesia's defence minister wants to blacklist Australian Greens Senator Kerry Nettle from travelling to Papua, saying her presence could stir more violence in the restive province.

The senator had hoped to go to Papua next month to assess the security situation following clashes last week in which as many as four Indonesian police officers and an air force officer were bludgeoned to death by demonstrators.

But the Koran Tempo daily reports that the Indonesian Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono has asked the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Department to stop the visit taking place.

He says Senator Nettle, who has visited the 43 Papuan asylum seekers on Christmas Island, would try and embarrass Indonesia over human rights.

The call for a blacklist came a day after Indonesia's intelligence chief, Major-General Syamsir Siregar, accused Australian-backed aid groups of fomenting last week's protests against the US-owned Freeport mine.

An advisor with Mr Sudarsono, Bonnie Leonard, is reported as saying the minister believes Senator Nettle is indirectly linked to the violence.