Papuan border crossers’ leader Jonathan Baure today revealed all about his members crossing into Australia, their treatment at the hands of Australian authorities, and of his apprehension in Daru at the weekend when he had never physically crossed over into Australia.
|The Papuan border crossers who actually made it to Cape York Peninsula, the northernmost tip of Australia, raise the Papuan flag last Wednesday.-Pictures courtesy of JONATHAN BAURE|
Baure said of the 16 dinghies carrying 122 people, which were confiscated by Australian authorities last Wednesday, one actually made it onto Cape York Peninsula on northernmost tip of the mainland, where seven passengers disembarked and raised their Papuan flag before being arrested.
|A giant step for the Papuan movement…the first seven border crossers arrive at |
“Two dinghies were stopped just outside of Horn Island, which is in the special quarantine zone,” he said.
“Nine were held at Tudo, on the border of the treaty zone and the special quarantine zone.
“The last four dinghies were in the quarantine zone but they were sent back (to Daru).
“The total number of people who crossed was 122, and the total number of people who actually landed on the mainland itself was just seven.
“Under Australian immigration and customs laws, any person found inside the special quarantine zone will be arrested and detained, and taken to the Cairns court.
“There were 122 of our members detained at Horn Island, which is still inside the quarantine zone.
“While in Australia, their requests for legal aid and to have their case heard in court fell on deaf ears.
“They were refused opportunity to a lawyer.
“They were not even allowed to speak to the media.
“The first lot of 30 people was flown back the same afternoon to Daru, and their dinghies and outboard motors confiscated.
“I’m very disappointed that Australian authorities didn’t give our members the opportunity to present our case through the courts, as is the case when drug runners and gun smugglers cross into the special quarantine zone.”
Baure said they decided to take this action because Australian High Commission staff in Port Moresby had not been paying attention to their claims that they were Australian citizens, despite acknowledgement by former prime minister Kevin Rudd.
“We are not refugees crossing, simply people who want our Australian birth citizenship recognised, as we were born as Australian citizens,” he said.
“Australians are saying that we are not citizens, but we never revoked our birthright.
“At independence in 1975, they reckon we lost our Australian citizenship, but they must realise that we never revoked it.
“This is not a political issue; it is a civil rights issue.
“It is simply about Papuans who were born as Australian citizens before PNG independence.”
|A Papuan border crosser at |
“I never crossed over,” he said.
“I was all the time in Daru catering for people who crossed over, doing awareness on the issue and talking to media and Australian authorities.
“I was apprehended on Sunday in Daru and flown to Port Moresby on an Australian-chartered plane, where I was formally arrested and charged.
“I’ve been charged with two counts of: false assumption of authority; and personating public officer.
“I’ve been charged by the police trans-national crime unit, together with PNG Customs and PNG Immigration.
“However, they keep on changing the charges, so I don’t know when I’ll appear in court.”
Asked if he had falsified Australian citizenship papers, Baure replied: “We did not carry illegal Australian papers; these were our own group identification papers.”
Meanwhile, another well-placed source said yesterday that members of the Papuan group were now stranded en masse in Daru, because all their money amounting to thousands of kina had been confiscated by the trans-national crime unit.