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West Papua students ordered home from NZ

A Indonesia is leaving no stone unturned in applying pressure on West Papua
Indonesia is leaving no stone unturned in applying pressure on West Papua

| Radio New Zealand | Pacific Digital Journalist
| Edited

AUCKLAND - West Papuan students are facing a difficult time in New Zealand after Indonesia terminated their scholarships and ordered them home.

Master of Communications student Laurens Ikinia told RNZ Pacific said he his dreams of a brighter future have been shattered by the Indonesian government.

He has been ordered home just before the completion of his studies at Auckland University of Technology.

"The government has terminated the scholarships of 42 students here in Aotearoa who are the recipients of Papua provincial government scholarships," Ikinia said.

A Laurens Ikinia with West Papua governor Lucas Emembe
Laurens Ikinia with West Papua governor Lucas Emembe

“I am one of the students who was terminated, and this is worrying me.”

West Papua's struggles began in 1962 when the former Dutch colony was controversially and forcibly annexed by Indonesia.

"We are just surviving and do some part-time jobs as long as we can but, unfortunately, some students cannot work because of their visa conditions,” Ikinia said.

Of the 42 students, 27 are close to finishing their degrees.

The unconvincing reason given by Indonesia is that they are failing in their studies.

"I am determined to finish my study this month," Ikinia said.

"We don't see there will be a good future when the concerned students go home."

“Most come from low-income families. Some parents cannot afford to send their children to pursue education up to tertiary level.

"We have tried our best through various channels to communicate and negotiate with the Indonesian government and the Papua provincial government, however there is no positive response.

A Some of the West Papuan students in New Zealand
Some of the West Papuan students in New Zealand

"The provincial government stated they will no longer support the students on the list.

“We have provided the complete data of the concerned students to clarify the data that the provincial government has, but they still stick to their decision to repatriate the concerned students.

"We are so heartbroken by this decision," he said.

Green Party MPs Ricardo Menendez March and Teanau Tuiono met with the West Papua students last week.

The Greens have asked the government for a scholarship fund to support West Papuan students impacted by the defunding decision.


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