Stranded Aussies plead for help

A group of Australians accused of entering West Papua illegally have won their appeal, but still face problems returning home.


The five Australians have plead with the Australian government to step in, saying Indonesian officials are blocking their departure.

Speaking from Mopah airport, one of the group members has pled with Australian authorities to help resolve the situation.

Heart-felt plea

“Help. Please help us,” Karen Burke says.

“You are our only hope and do not assist Indonesia politically. We are concerned at the political sensitivities towards Indonesia are getting in the way of our freedom.”

Ms Burke says authorities have impounded the gorup\’s aircraft, and they have been forced to sleep on the grounds of the terminal until their situation is resolved.

“We are able to leave the airport, there is no one stopping us from leaving the airport, but we will possibly put ourselves into a situation where we are illegally in Indonesia if we do that, because we have no visas, we have no right to be here and we have no means to leave here,” Ms Burke says.

Legal challenge ahead

The five won a legal appeal against convictions for illegally entering Indonesia on a light plane last September, and were the High Court has ordered the group leave the country using the aircraft in which they arrived.

However, Ms Burke says prosecutors have retained the aircraft in order to mount a challenge to the ruling.

“The court decision had to be signed off or just looked at by the prosecutor who said we won\’t accept this,” Ms Burke says.

“The lawyer said, what do you mean, it is a legal ruling and you have to accept it. But they said no, we wish to appeal both cases to the Supreme Court and to do that, we need to keep the aircraft as evidence.”