21 Nov 2006

PNG demonstrators demand Australian citizenship recognition

5:21 pm on 21 November 2006

Hundreds of Papuans who want Canberra to recognise them as Australian citizens have staged a protest rally outside the Australian High Commission in Papua New Guinea.

The Australian Papuan Community says the group wants Australia to recognise that Papuans were not given a choice to remain Australians when Papua New Guinea became independent in 1975.

Today's protest was in response to a call from the high commission for all Australian citizens to register at its offices so they can be readily found in emergencies.

Several hundred Papuans displaying Australian Papuan flags gathered in the car park outside the commission's steel gates to stage a peaceful protest and listen to speeches.

Their leader says his group has collected 73,000 signatures and aimed to get 500,000 to take to the United Nations to urge a referendum on Papuans being granted Australian citizenship.

A high commission spokeswoman says a High Court ruling in Australia last year upheld laws that Papuans ceased to be Australian citizens when PNG became independent.