21 Aug 2013

Australia issues warning to Freedom Flotilla heading to West Papua

8:18 am on 21 August 2013

The Australian Government has issued a formal written warning to members of a Freedom Flotilla en route to Indonesia's West Papua.

Canberra warns that the crew of the flotilla, a three-boat convoy of around 20 Australian activists planning to land on Merauke in Papua province in the coming weeks, face significant criminal penalties if they breach Papua New Guinea or Indonesian immigration laws.

Speaking from Jakarta, Australia's Foreign Minister Bob Carr described the flotilla's proposed illegal entry as high risk, with Indonesian law providing for penalties of up to 5 years for similar immigration offences.

He says if flotilla members are arrested in Indonesia or neighbouring Papua New Guinea, Canberra cannot seek special treatment for them or intervene in local procedures.

Senator Carr says the activists are perpetrating a cruel hoax on the people of Papua and West Papua provinces, by suggesting that independence is on the international agenda.