Papuan asylum seekers' A'lian visa only reviewable after three years

10 April 2006

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Australian Ambassador to Indonesia Bill Farmer said here on Monday his government`s decision to give visas to 42 Papuan asylum seekers can only be reviewed after three years.

Visas can only be reviewed after their expiration , in this case after three years, he said. After the expiration of their visas recipients must apply for visas again on condition they remain in Australia during the period and carry no certain sponsorship, he added at a meeting with religious leaders at the office of the Muhammadiyah Islamic organization.

Farmer said the Australian government and majority of the Australian people in principle always rejected foreigners, including people from Papua, who came to Australia illegally.

In the case of the visas given to the Papuan asylum seekers, he said the Australian government based its decision on the country`s immigration law which was used internationally.

He said the Australian government stuck to the view that Papua is part of the Republic of Indonesia and Prime Minister John Howard was very supportive of Indonesia`s stance in dealing with Papu`s problems.

Farmer said the Australian government was ready to help Indonesia settle Papua`s problems if needed.

He said the Australian government was eager to hold an open dialogue with the Indonesian government with regard to the visa issue.

Muhammadiyah chairman Din syamsuddin meanwhile said he hoped the tension between the two countries could be ended soon. "We hope the two neighbouring countries can continue their good relationship and hopefully the Australian embassy can convey the ideas that have developed during the meeting to Canberra. We believe this meeting will settle the problem," he said.

Indonesian deputy to the minister for acceleration of development in backward regions Michael Manufandu who attended the meeting meanwhile said he could understand the Australian government`s statement that the controversial visas for the Papuan asylum seekers could only be reviewed after three years.

"We can understand it as the law in that country is like that. We do not sign the immigration law that is used internationally. Three years is not long," he said. (*)


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