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Campaigners celebrate defeat of shameful border bill

Free West Papua Campaign (Melbourne) Media Release - August 14, 2006

Refugee and Free West Papua supporters this afternoon welcomed the Prime Minister's decision to scuttle the Migration Amendment (Designated Unauthorised Arrivals) Bill and

"We are overjoyed that people of good heart in Australia have banded together to show John Howard that we are a nation that takes it's human obligations seriously in providing protection to those that need it.", said Nick Chesterfield, spokesperson for the Free West Papua Campaign in Melbourne.

"It particularly heartening to honour the stand taken by those Senators and MPs in refusing to bow down to appeasement of the brutal Indonesian military, and to uphold our core values of a fair go."

"People, particularly those from our immediate neighbour West Papua, will always flee while there is a regime murdering, torturing and imprisoning them. This is a normal human reaction, and we should feel proud that there are still some in Canberra who will enable refugees to have a normal life", said Mr. Chesterfield.

"It is not for John Howard to decide that people should be dumped away from those who will hear their stories and help them heal."

This decision comes at a particularly poignant time for West Papuans, with tomorrow being the 44th anniversary of the handover of West Papua to Indonesia. "Howard must remember that the Australian people are supportive of this stand taken by the dissidents, and he should not seek to re-introduce it under a different guise, because we will be ready" explained Mr. Chesterfield.

The Free West Papua Campaign echoes calls made to scrap the Pacific Solution entirely and to return the excised offshore islands to the realms of human decency. People should not be treated differently based on where they land or how they land, and should be judged on the merits of their claims under international and Australian refugee law as it stands.

"We also call on Howard to use this opportunity and reunite the families divided, and grant immediate refugee status to Siti Wainggai, the mother of little Anike who played such a pivotal role in the courageous decision from Senator Fielding".

For further comment, please contact:

Nick Chesterfield, spokesperson, m: 0409 268 978