20 Aug 2010

Australia says PNG High Commission protest was peaceful

3:18 pm on 20 August 2010

The Australian Government has dismissed claims that a group of Papua New Guineans was manhandled out of the Port Moresby High Commission on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says the group, which called itself the Papuan-Australian-Plaintiff-United-Affiliates staged a peaceful sit-in at the High Commission.

He says the group left voluntarily at about 6 pm, having been on the premises for about six hours.

The spokesperson says a letter from the group asking that they be repatriated to Australia and that their claim for Australian citizenship be recognised has been passed to the relevant department for a response.

The leader of the PNG group, Jonathan Jay Baure, says their protest is not about seeking to move to Australia but having Canberra accept they didn't agree to surrender their citizenship at independence in 1975.

He says the protestors were forcibly removed from the Commission and intend to sue the Australian Federal Police.

Mr Baure says they also plan another protest - paddling dozens of canoes across the most narrow part of the Torres Strait into Australia.