There are fears tonight that six West Papuan asylum seekers associated with the recent Indigenous Freedom Flotilla may be handed back to Indonesia.
Chris Roe

27 Sep 2013 - 5:26 PM  UPDATED 27 Sep 2013 - 8:05 PM

The group of six activists and a child fled to Australia's Boigu Island and reports suggest that they were then transferred to Papua New Guinea.

Two weeks ago, Arubunna Elder Kevin Buzzacott met with West Papuan leaders in a secret location off the coast of the troubled Indonesian territories.

He delivered sacred waters from Lake Eyre and ashes from Australia's tent embassies in a ceremony of solidarity. 

"The purpose was to go and free my brothers and sisters from the flotilla attacks that were happening in West Papua, and also to highlight what the military and the government are doing to the people there," Mr Buzzacott told NITV.

But as the Freedom Flotilla returned to Australia, Indonesian security forces moved in and arrested the West Papuans involved.

This week, a group of six West Papuan activists and a child are believed to have crossed the Torres Strait to have landed on Australia's Boigu Island. Where they are now remains in question.

"I believe that they were intercepted by the Australian government and they were sent back to... I am not too sure where - if it's in PNG or where they've got them, but I am concerned about their safety," said Mr Buzzacott.

Human Rights lawyer Tom Clarke says the group's removal to PNG could prove problematic.

"There have been reports that the asylum seekers have been transferred to PNG. There are also reports that PNG has an extradition treaty with Indonesia, which allows Papuans to be returned to Indonesia. So, if that's the case, that may pose some additional risks to these particular asylum seekers who have come from West Papua," Mr Clarke said.

"Obviously they fled from West Papua because in Papua there are very serious human rights violations that are fairly routine, so they have genuine fear for their safety if they were to remain in West Papua".

In 2006, the Howard government's decision to grant asylum to a group of 43 West Papuans sparked a diplomatic standoff with Indonesia.  

More Papuans could certainly make things uncomfortable for the new Prime Minister Tony Abbott on the eve of his first trip to Jakarta. The Immigration minister has declined to comment, but for Mr Buzzacott the way forward is simple.

"These people have got a crisis going on, and if we Australians can't offer any support to them, what are we here for? Do you know what I mean?," he said.