BY DAVID FEDELE
IN JANUARY THIS YEAR, Special Operation Sunset Merona (led by the Papua New Guinea police and army) burned down villages and camps of West Papuan refugees in and around Vanimo.
Most of these refugees had residency papers and had been legally in PNG for many years. They had fled persecution in West Papua at the hands of the Indonesians.
This is very much still a relevant story. Though my film footage was taken earlier in 2011, our contacts have informed us that Sunset Merona still has a presence in Vanimo.
All of the refugees (men, women and children) who fled into the bush are – six months later - still hiding to avoid capture and beating, and possible risk of being turned over the Indonesian government, where they would face certain death.
It goes against every element of the UN Charter for Refugees or which PNG is legally bound.
I am attempting to get this footage to as wide an audience as possible - to raise awareness of how these West Papuan refugees are being treated by PNG.
The footage was taken on Wednesday 16 February in the jungle near Vanimo - less than 50 km from the West Papua border.
It shows West Papuan refugees returning to their village for the first time since it was burnt three weeks earlier by special operation Sunset Merona.
The men came out of hiding in the bush to talk to me, and the women were able to leave for only a couple of hours where they were being held, as they told their captors they were looking for food from the garden.
After I left the men went back into the bush to hide, and the women returned to where they were being held.
This footage is clear evidence of contravention of the UN Charter for Refugees by Papua New Guinea, and also raises major questions about the legality of special operation Sunset Merona and the alleged involvement of the Indonesian government in pressuring the Papua New Guinea authorities to undertake these raids.