Two Papuans who were granted asylum in Australia have returned to Indonesia because they were “disillusioned with their own group,” an Indonesian Foreign Ministry official said on Sunday.
Teuku Faizasyah, a ministry spokesman, said that Yunus Wanggai and his daughter, Anike Wanggai, arrived in Jakarta on Saturday afternoon.
Yunus and Anike, two of 43 people who sailed from Papua to Australia in 2006 to seek asylum, want to return home to see their family in the Serui district of Papua Province, Faizasyah said.
He said the two had returned to Indonesia because they felt manipulated by the leader of the group of asylum seekers, Herman Wanggai, who promised them a better life in Australia.
“Yunus said he felt victimized by Herman Wanggai’s propaganda, and intimidated because the leader said he would be punished and jailed if he returned home,” Faizasyah said
Two other Papuan asylum seekers — Hana Gobay and Yubel Kareni — returned from Australia in September, reportedly citing similar reasons.
Yunus piloted the vessel that brought the 43 asylum seekers to Australia in January 2006.
Faizasyah said Herman had reneged on a promise to give Yunus a boat, and that on Nov. 17, Yunus went to the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra to declare his intention to return to Indonesia.
“We did not and will not approach those asylum seekers to convince them to come back, but if they voluntarily want to return, we will accept them with open arms,” said Faizasyah, adding that the government would guarantee their safety.
Faizasyah said the Australian government had helped to facilitate the return of Yunus and Anike.
“That shows that relations between Indonesia and Australia are not strained by the return,” he said. Australia’s decision to grant the Papuans asylum prompted Jakarta to temporarily recall its ambassador from Canberra.