PAPUAN REFUGEES ROUTED BY PNG POLICE

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Sept. 25) – Papua New Guinea National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop has urged the West Papuan refugees at 8 Mile settlement now facing eviction to remain until the court has ruled on their case and a new resettlement area has been found for them.

Mr. Parkop told The National he could not allow the West Papuans to be forced out onto the streets with their families and belongings. He further confirmed that police raided the homes of the West Papuans and hacked down their banana trees last Saturday.

The West Papuans were allegedly uprooted from their settlement homes last Saturday by former politician Sir Peter Lus with help of a group of policemen from the McGregor Unit, who wrecked their homes using a bulldozer. The culprits also chopped down their banana garden.

Helen Hou told The National her people, numbering about 400, were ordered to pack their belongings and pile them outside their homes as they were going to be evicted after 3 p.m. last Saturday. But she said one of them went to Parkop’s resident to ask for assistance in stopping their eviction. She said the governor responded immediately by personally going to 8 Mile and advised the people to remain there until further advice.

Ms. Hou said some settlers including herself and her family had listened to Parkop’s advice and remained at 8 Mile while another group left to camp out near the UNHCR Office at Ela Beach.

The West Papuans asked to be deported to a third country.

Those who camped outside UNHCR, remained there last night but were unable to meet with the UNHCR representatives in PNG. The group was composed of about 30 men, women and children although they earlier claimed to have numbered to at least 200.

An official from the UNHCR office here told The National the UNHCR PNG office could not comment on the issue and referred us to UNHCR Canberra for comment.

Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Puka Temu, who is also in charge of Lands, said yesterday he was unable to comment as he was not officially briefed on the issues.

Freddy Vawomi, who claimed to be speaking for the group camped at Ela Beach, said they would remain outside the UNHCR office at Ela Beach until they receive a response from UNHCR. They claimed those who have remained at 8 Mile were keen to negotiate for a return to the Papuan province of Indonesia.

The other group is pro-independence who wanted to be deported to a third country.

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