THREE West Papuan activists have climbed the wall into the Australian consulate in Bali, a student group says.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon says he was awoken early on Sunday by news that the trio had entered the consulate’s grounds in Denpasar about 6am (AEST), pleading for their safety.
“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.”
The Alliance of Papua Students says in a statement the three – Rofinus Yanggam, Markus Jerewon and Yuvensius Goo – are not asking for independence for West Papua from Indonesia.
Rather they are calling for international journalists to be allowed into the province and for the release of political prisoners from Indonesian prisons.
Senator Xenophon said the trio’s requests deserved to be considered and they should be given sanctuary in the Australian consulate “unless their safety can be guaranteed by Indonesian authorities”.
“They’re not seeking independence,” he said.
“They are simply asking for political prisoners to be released and for international journalists to have access to West Papua as journalists have access to other provinces of Indonesia.”
The Alliance of Papua Students studying in Java and Bali has a letter from the trio, addressed to the Australian people.
In it, they ask Prime Minister Tony Abbott to push the Indonesian government to release at least 55 political prisoners jailed in several prisons in Papua.
They fear for their lives if they are expelled from the Australian consulate, they say.
The alliance’s co-ordinator, Rinto Kogoya, has asked Mr Abbott and other world leaders in Bali for the APEC summit to call on the Indonesian government to release political prisoners in West Papua.
Associate Professor Clinton Fernandes, an expert in international and political studies at the University of NSW, said Australia respected Indonesia’s territorial sovereignty.
The activists were not seeking independence for their province, he said, just to be treated the same as other Indonesians with open access for international journalists.
Comment is being sought from the Australian government.