After weeks of advocacy by Green MPs, Immigration New Zealand has given assurances that West Papuan students whose scholarships were cancelled by the Indonesian Government will not be deported – and that a team will now be formed to assess the future needs of the students.
“The Green Party has been calling on the Government to do its part to support the indigenous communities of West Papua and we’re pleased that action is being taken,” says Teanau Tuiono, Green Party spokesperson for Pacific Peoples.
“Dozens of West Papuan students are facing hardship and the prospect of not being able to finish their studies due to the cancellation of their scholarship by the Indonesian Government.
“We wrote to Minister Faafoi asking him to act urgently to issue new visas for the students of West Papua.
“We are pleased that Government agencies are taking action to assess the needs of the West Papuan students and ideally grant them renewed visas for them to remain in Aotearoa.
“West Papuans are indigenous peoples who have been occupied by Indonesia. As a Pacific nation and signatory of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples we have a responsibility to support West Papuans and their struggle for self-determination.
“Supporting students to come to Aotearoa to study and to stay is a tangible way we can do our part to support the people of West Papua,” says Teanau Tuiono.
Ricardo Menéndez March, Green Party spokesperson for immigration added:
“The ongoing alarming reports of human rights abuses in West Papua, mean the students could have been forced to return to their homelands without the security and tools they need to support their communities”
“The Government has shown us that where there is political will we can guarantee certainty and security for temporary visa holders.
“The prompt issuing of the Ukraine Special Visa and the renewal of up to 19,500 working holiday visas demonstrate there are levers the Minister of Immigration can pull to guarantee a safe pathway to remain in Aotearoa for students from West Papua.
“We are calling on the Government to guarantee replacement visas for the West Papuan students and to explore setting up a scholarship fund to do our part supporting indigenous peoples in the Pacific,” says Ricardo Menéndez March.