25 Sep 2008

Two Papuan refugees return to Indonesia

7:37 pm on 25 September 2008

Two of the 43 Papuan asylum seekers at the heart of a diplomatic rift between Australia and Indonesia two years ago have returned to their homeland.

The Indonesian government says the two returned to Papua on Wednesday morning, accompanied by Indonesia's consul general in Melbourne.

Indonesia's Department of Foreign Affairs says the two Papuans contacted Indonesian officials in Melbourne and Canberra in mid-July wanting to return to Papua.

A spokesman says it was purely their own wish - they were the ones who approached us and we were only facilitating their return.

The two were among a group of 43 Papuans who sought political asylum in Australia in 2006, following alleged human rights abuses.

Australia's decision to grant visas to the group - who arrived on a boat to Cape York in January 2006 - sparked a diplomatic crisis in relations between Jakarta and Canberra.