THREE West Papuan activists are making demands after sneaking into Australia’s consulate in Bali just hours before Prime Minister Tony Abbott is due to arrive for the APEC summit.
Government sources have confirmed to AAP that the trio – Rofinus Yanggam, Markus Jerewon and Yuvensius Goo – made it into the consulate in Denpasar on the Indonesian holiday island early on Sunday morning.
In a major security breach that threatens to overshadow Mr Abbott’s attendance at the annual APEC leaders summit, it’s believed the men scaled the consulate’s high walls to get inside.
Mr Abbott is due to arrive in Bali on Sunday evening for what is to be his first international summit since winning government last month.
The Alliance of Papua Students has issued a statement saying the men are not asking for West Papuan independence from Indonesia.
Rather, they are calling for international journalists to be allowed into the troubled Papua provinces and for the release of political prisoners from Indonesian jails.
The men say they fear for their lives if Australia expels them from the consulate.
In a letter addressed to the Australian people, they say they want Mr Abbott, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US Secretary of State John Kerry to stand up for Papuan rights.
“We want these leaders to persuade the Indonesian government to treat Papuan people better,” the handwritten letter says.
They say many of their colleagues have tried to have their voices heard but have ended up in prison.
“These political prisoners committed no crime. They are explicitly committed to non-violence,” the letter says. “The Indonesian government arrested and jailed them for discussing their political human rights beliefs.”
They end their letter with a plea for help.
“We seek refuge and plead for our safety.”
The alliance says the men want the release of at least 55 political prisoners jailed in several prisons in Papua, especially political prisoner Filep Karma, jailed for 15 years in Abepura prison.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon has quickly become involved in the case.
“Right now it is critical that the Australian foreign minister gives these three young men sanctuary,” he said. “To expel them would potentially put their lives at great risk.”
Senator Xenophon says he has heard that sources on the ground are saying Australian officials have told the trio they must leave the consulate or Indonesian police will be called.
“That’s an extraordinary development if it’s true,” he said.
“If that’s what we do to these guys it must be in breach of all sorts of international conventions regarding people seeking asylum. That’s absolutely shocking.”
University of New South Wales international and political studies associate professor Clinton Fernandes says he believes the Australian consulate will be doing its best to kick the activists out.
“Because they want to show the Indonesians that they are even more committed to Indonesian policy than they are,” he told AAP.
“If they are expelled from the consulate, they will certainly be arrested by the Indonesian police, almost certainly be tortured and possibly disappeared down the track.”