JAKARTA, Sept 24 – 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 said Hana Gobay, from Merauke in
Papua, and Yubel Kareni, from Serui, returned to Papua this
morning, accompanied by Indonesia’s consul general in Melbourne,
The two Papuans contacted Indonesian officials in Melbourne and
Canberra in mid-July wanting to return to Papua, Indonesia’s
Foreign Affairs Department (DEPLU) said.
“It’s purely their own wishes – they were the ones who
approached us and we were only facilitating their return,” DEPLU
spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said.
“We were passive; they wanted to be sent back.”
The two were among a group of 43 Papuans who sought political
asylum in Australia in 2006, following alleged human rights
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.
DEPLU said the return of the pair was expected to “open the
hearts and eyes of those who are still trying to pressure
Indonesia” about the controversial Papuan issue.
“Those two Indonesian citizens have shown courage to take this
position amidst the misinformation and pressure, because they
believe they live in good conditions in Papua,” DEPLU said in a
“Their return also proves that persecution as a reason for
asylum seekers is not proven at all.”
It also said the pair had been intimidated by other asylum
seekers in their quest to return to Papua.