Indonesia Recalls its Ambassador to Australia

Antara
24 March 2006

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian government has decided to recall its Ambassador to Australia, Hamzah Thayeb, in protest against the Australian government`s decision to grant temporary visas to 42 asylum seekers from Papua, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Friday.

"(There are) many ways to show disappointment about a foreign country`s stance, such as sending a letter, summoning the foreign country`s ambassador to Indonesia to whom the Indonesian government would convey a protest or calling home our ambassador to the country concerned," the spokesman, Yuri Thamrin, said.

He said the decision to recall Ambassador Hamzah Thayeb was taken based on careful onsideraions and in a measured way.

Australian Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone announced on Thursday that 42 of the group of 43 Papuans had been granted temporary protection visas which entitle them to stay in Australia for three years.

Yuri added Hamzah`s withdrawal was not permanent but temporary.

The move was designed to show Indonesia`s displeasure about Canberra`s decision to give the temporary visas and to hear directly from the Indonesian ambassador about the Australian government`s actions in response to the asylum seekers` request.

Yuri who is also Director for East Asia and Pacific affairs at the ministry said the Indonesia Embassy in Canberra was never consulted by the Australian government about its decision to accommodate the Papuan asylum-seekers.

He als discounted certain parties` view that the Australian government`s decision in the case could have been prevented if Ambassador Hamzah Thayeb had been a more capable diplomat.

"We do not agree with the view that it was all due to a failure on Ambassador Hamzah Thayeb`s part. The Indonesian ambassador came to the Australian Foreign Ministry and duly conveyed our position (on the case)," Yuri said.

Yuri did not mention when Hamzah would arrive back in Indonesia and for how long Hamzah would be recalled.

Asked whether the granting of the visas would harm the relation between the two countries, Yuri said, "Off course, there will be an impact. The decision, in general, has harmed the atmosphere of relations between the two. It (the decision) might not boost the cooperation between the two countries, mainly in facing illegal migrants."

Indonesia had previously said that there were no grounds for the Papuans to qualify for the status of asylum seekers as defined in the United Nations` 1951 Convention on Refugees and warned that granting them asylum would harm relations.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had even asked the Australian government to send the 43 asylum seekers home and given the assurance that they would be treated well and not be prosecuted.

The other one of the 43 Papuans was granted a visa by the Japanese government. (*) LKBN ANTARA Copyright 2005

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