Monthly Archives: September 2013

West Papuans deported to PNG after Australian asylum bid

Group connected to Freedom Flotilla held and ‘denied access to a lawyer’ after fleeing Indonesia

Marni Cordell, Friday 27 September 2013

Yacob Mechrian Mandabayan

Yacob Mechrian Mandabayan was one of seven West Papuans who was deported to Papua New Guinea after seeking asylum in Australia. Photograph: Freedom Flotilla

A group of West Papuans who went into hiding in fear for their lives after taking part in the West Papua Freedom Flotilla have been deported to Papua New Guinea after seeking asylum in Australia.

Seven West Papuans, including a woman and a 10-year-old child, landed on Boigu Island in the Torres Strait, just 6km from PNG a on Tuesday night. On Thursday night they were deported to PNG, according to Ronny Kareni, a West Papuan refugee living in Melbourne who spoke to the group on Friday morning.

“They are very distressed and scared,” he told Guardian Australia on Friday morning.

Yacob Mechrian Mandabayan, one of the men on board the boat, told Guardian Australia from a safe house last week that he feared for his life after receiving threats from the Indonesian military and police.

“We’ve become refugees in our own country and we ask your help to expose our situation here,” he said. “We need your help. Please.”

Kareni outlined the journey the asylum seekers took after landing on Boigu. He said they were taken on a boat from Boigu to Horn Island, and then a helicopter came and picked them up. He said they were told they were going to be processed on the mainland, but that later, when they were in the air, one of the immigration or customs officers told them they were actually heading to Port Moresby.

The group stayed in a hotel in Port Moresby on Thursday night and had an interview with immigration officials on Friday morning, where they would be told whether they were being sent to Manus Island detention centre, Kareni said.

“They are claiming asylum from Australia and they asked if they could contact a lawyer but they were denied access to a lawyer or to [any other] contact,” he said.

“We’re still trying to find a lawyer for them in PNG so they can claim their asylum. We are demanding there’s a lawyer present, in case they are rejected without any appeal.”

The Abbott government’s tight information control on boat arrivals has made any information about the group difficult to verify.

Guardian Australia spoke with customs on Thursday Island, customs media in Canberra, Department of Immigration and Border Protection media and a spokesperson for the immigration and border protection minister, Scott Morrison. All declined to confirm the names or location of the seven West Papuans.

“Those questions will have to be directed to the Operation Sovereign Borders press conference on Monday,” Guardian Australia was repeatedly told.

The West Papuan Freedom Flotilla was a collaboration between Indigenous Australian and West Papuan activists, designed to raise awareness of human rights abuses in West Papua under Indonesian rule.

It was planned that a flotilla of boats would sail from Cairns to the Indonesian port of Merauke in West Papua, but the activists changed their plans when the Indonesian military would not rule out using lethal force against them.

Instead, a group of West Papuans crossed the Indonesian sea border in a small boat to meet the flotilla earlier this month. Mandabayan was on board.

“The military threatened me,” he told Guardian Australia last week after returning from the journey, adding there was “ongoing surveillance around the house at night and during the day”.

“They are trying to identify [whether] me and other cousins were involved directly with the flotilla or not.”

Several other West Papuans have also been arrested and intimidated for their involvement with the flotilla – including a group of four in Sorong, in West Papua’s west, who face long jail terms after being charged with treason for attending a church meeting to pray for the flotilla, and after they told police they wanted independence from Indonesia.

West Papuans have agitated for independence from Indonesia since the province was acquired by Indonesia in a sham ballot in 1969.

Joe Collins of the Australia West Papua Association said of the seven West Papuan asylum seekers: “Anybody who knows the situation in West Papua would have no doubt that they are genuine asylum seekers fleeing persecution by the Indonesian security forces and should be granted refuge in Australia.”

Will Bishop Defend The Freedom Flotilla?

New Matilda  Tom Clarke  16 September 2013


The Freedom Flotilla to West Papua sits in a long tradition of Australians taking a stand for democracy and justice in Indonesia. So why won’t our leaders speak up, asks Tom Clarke

Although successive Australian governments have been overly eager to align themselves with the more regressive elements of the Indonesian political landscape, ordinary Australians have stood up time and time again for democracy and human rights in our region.

Following the defeat of the Japanese at the end of World War II, Indonesia proclaimed independence, but four more years of fighting was required to defeat Dutch attempts to regain control of their former colony. During this crucial period, many within the Australian community supported the Indonesian cause. For example, a boycott led by the Australian Waterside Workers’ Federation and supported by 30 other Australian trade unions, immobilised 559 ships that were meant to supply the Dutch effort.

Read more:

Flotilla puts West Papua in the Australian consciousness

Posted on September 16, 2013 by traverser11

Cambell Cooney

The West Papua Freedom Flotilla has arrived back in Gove in the Northern Territory, describing their attempt to get the attention of the province’s Indonesian masters and the world’s media, a success.

The Flotilla was led by a group of senior indigenous Australian’s, and began it’s trip by road from Lake Eyre in Central Australia to Cairns, then by boat to West Papua.

Their purpose was to raise awareness of what they claim are injustices in the Indonesian Province.

That purpose put them at odds with the Australian government, which told the group personally if they were arrested they would not be given any extra curricular assistance.

West Papuans celebrate arrival of sacred water and fire, despite intimidation by Indonesian military
Posted on September 14, 2013 by traverser11

A number of events took place across West Papua today to celebrate the arrival of sacred water and fire from the Freedom Flotilla.

In the port city of Marauke, a planned community event which was to be attended by 17 tribes from around the region was stymied by authorities. The head of police and five intelligence officers hand delivered a letter to one of the organisers prohibiting any ceremonies for the reception of the Freedom Flotilla. Police and intelligence officers stationed themselves around the house of the organiser this morning, preventing it from taking place.

“The town was crippled by the combined forces of navy, police, State Intelligence Agency (BIN,) Kopasus and military who monitored the movement of ordinary people and the Flotilla organisers throughout the day. Plan B was to escape in few vehicles to a safe location and travel by boat for few kilometres to a nearby beach and this is where the sacred ceremony was carried out,” explained Ronnie Kareni

Jhon Wog, chairmen of the Freedom Flotilla welcoming committee and elder of the Marin Tribe in Merauke, said “In a sacred site near Marauke, I released a canoe to sail out to meet the Flotilla boat as a symbol of connecting the spirit of our ancestors. Thank God for Uncle Kevin Buzzacott, who already brought our ancestral spirit back to reconnect us with the land and hope for our struggle for independence.”

In nearby Fak Fak, an estimated 400-600 people undertook a long march to highlight ongoing human rights abuses against the people of West Papua. The arrival of the water and fire was also celebrated by hundreds yesterday in Manokwari with traditional dances and prayer.

“The people of West Papua express our gratitude to the Indigenous Elders, Kevin Buzzacott, human rights activists, musicians, artists, and others on the Freedom Flotilla who have raised their voices for peace and justice in West Papua,” said West Papuan activist Awom Eliezer.

The sacred water from Lake Eyre in central Australia and ashes from Aboriginal tent embassies had been delivered by the Freedom Flotilla in a clandestine cultural exchange between indigenous elders of Australia and West Papua. They will be passed from tribe to tribe throughout West Papua to spread the message of hope and continue the struggle for freedom.



The crackdown by authorities today follows the events of the 28th of August, where four people were arrested and charged with treason for raising the banned Morning Star flag after a prayer meeting in support of the Freedom Flotilla.

Read other posts on Freedom Flotilla website:


Urgent Snap Rally for Freedom Flotilla Friday 13th September

Please come along to support justice for West Papua and show solidarity with the Freedom Flotilla to West Papua as they move closer to reaching land in West Papua, and may be intercepted by the Indonesian military in the next couple of days.

The details are: 12:30pm Friday 13th September DFAT Adelaide 55 Currie St City .

If you cant make it please take action by:

Calling or emailing the Australian and Indonesian Consulates to voice your concern:
South Australian Consulate
Phone: (08) 8403 4899
Indonesian Consulate:
Phone:(08) 8226 0444
Email the Freedom Flotilla team to sign a statement of support:

Visit these Websites for further reading ;

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Freedom Flotilla Makes Sail for West Papua as Military Amass in Merauke and Daru

Posted on September 8, 2013 by traverser11

The Freedom Flotilla’s flagship the Pog is set to sail for West Papua on this morning’s tide. A military buildup in the Flotilla’s destination port of Merauke has been confirmed, with 2500 troops having arrived on the 28th of August to bolster numbers at the Indonesian border.

Undeterred, the core crew of activists have committed themselves to carrying out their peaceful mission to conduct a ceremony sharing the Sacred Waters from the mound springs of Lake Eyre, and the ashes of Sacred Fires from Aboriginal Tent Embassies across Australia.

The additional troops are suspected to have been deployed to crack down on welcome ceremonies planned for the Freedom Flotilla. Locals from across Merauke district gathered on the 28th of August as the military reinforcements sailed into harbour, preparing garlands of flowers to welcome the Indigenous elders and crew to their land.


On the same day, four organisers of a congregation held in Sorong to pray for the safety of the Freedom Flotilla were arrested and charged with treason.

Indonesian Navy Patrol boats have also been photographed and sighted patrolling the Indonesian border.

The Freedom Flotilla has decided to sail directly to Merauke, rather than via the PNG island of Daru as originally planned. Locals in Daru have reported Australian Defence Force personnel arriving in the past weeks, with pictures received by the Freedom Flotilla over the weekend confirming 7 Zodiac boats and 21 personnel arriving in a Hercules aircraft on the 31st of August, 2013.

Fisherman have reported the presence of a Australian Navy vessel near the maritime border. A Papua New Guinea Defence Force helicopter was also sighted circling the island. Freedom Flotilla organiser Ronny Kareni said “The sudden military presence is highly unusual, it surprised and terrified the villagers on the island who had been organising for a peaceful welcome.”


Australia’s incoming Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, has stated that the Indonesian military may do “whatever it wishes” against the Freedom Flotilla. The Indonesian military has not ruled out the use of lethal force. Greens Senator Richard Di Natale accused the new minister of inciting military action against peaceful protest in the Guardian on the 5th of September. He stated that her comments were “not befitting somebody who is likely to become the next foreign minister.”

Izzy Brown stated on the ‘Pogcast’ (8/9/13) that now the “worse of two evils” had won the Australian election, there was “all the more reason to challenge both the Australian and the Indonesian Governments jurisdiction over these waterways.”

The Flotilla expects to arrive at the Indonesian border in the two to five days.



The Freedom Flotilla to West Papua is an unprecedented event of creative resistance to the Indonesian occupation of West Papua. The initiative of Indigenous Elders of Australia and West Papua will build global solidarity and highlight the abuses of human rights and land rights carried out under the occupations of their lands on an international stage.

The Guardian: Julie Bishop accused of inciting military action against Freedom Flotilla

Posted on September 5, 2013 by traverser11

Marni Cordell

Greens senator Richard Di Natale has accused shadow foreign ministerJulie Bishop of inciting the Indonesian military to act against the West Papuan Freedom Flotilla.

The flotilla of Australian and West Papuan activists is sailing from Cairns to West Papua to raise awareness of human rights abuses under Indonesian rule.

Di Natale wrote to Bishop this week to express concern about her public comments on the flotilla. “This peaceful protest does not pose any threat to Indonesia and to imply otherwise has the potential to put Australian lives in danger,” he wrote. “Your comments run the very real risk of inflaming an already tense situation given the threatening language already used by senior members of the Indonesian security forces.”

Read the full story from The Guardian: