BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific
October 5, 2009
Excerpt from report by Papua New Guinea Post-Courier website on 5 October
[By Harlyne Joku]
The Indonesian embassy has opened its doors over the weekend [3-4 October] to West Papuans living in Port Moresby to reconfirm their intention to be repatriated to their homes in Indonesia’s Papua Province.
Indonesian Ambassador Bom Soerjanto and officials at the embassy who facilitated the registration said there would be no problems for those West Papuans who chose to return.
“They are Indonesian citizens. They will live peacefully in their home districts or whichever centre they chose to settle and find employment,” Mr Soerjanto said.
This is the second repatriation exercise. The first took place in 2004 where about 145 West Papuans returned home. Several of them were notable Papuans who gained PNG citizenship like former journalist Franz Albert Joku and pilot Nicholas Messet, Mr Soerjanto said.
“The programme has been successful. We are not forcing the West Papuans to return. It is a voluntary repatriation,” he said. “They are Indonesian citizens who have chosen to return after consulting with their families back home and are confident that they can find employment and live peacefully there.”
He assured that those that return would live peaceful lives as long as they did not revolt or take up arms against the government or commit criminal offences. Mr Soerjanto said people who return will have three months in transition in Jayapura.
Twenty-eight-year old West Papuan Michael Wapai, his wife and four children are among the 632 on the original list who were at the embassy on Saturday and Sunday reconfirming their registration for repatriation. Mr Wapai said life is difficult in Port Moresby where jobs are scarce.
Mr Soerjanto said the embassy would finalize repatriation next month and will meet all the expenses, including transportation from other centres to Port Moresby then to Vanimo and across the PNG Indonesian border.
Most of the Papuans taking part in the exercise crossed the border into PNG in the mid 60s, 70s and 80s while opposing Indonesian rule. They have now changed their minds and want to return to their homeland.