TERRITORIANS have turned out in support of three West Papuan students who entered Australia's consulate in Bali and pleaded with the Federal Government to take up their cause.
A small number of dedicated supporters gathered outside a barber shop near the Nightcliff Markets to voice their fears about human rights in the troubled Indonesian province that lies to Australia's north just above the Torres Strait.
West Papuans have been fleeing to Australia in recent weeks.
There have been reports of an unconfirmed number now being held in Darwin detention centres.
Billee McGinley, 38, of Ludmilla said West Papuans face the possibility of torture at home.
"It's a huge human rights issue,'' she said. "They have a right to seek asylum here.''
Three West Papuan activists, students Rofinus Yanggam, Yuvensius Goo and Markus Jerewon climbed the wall of the Australian consulate in the early hours of this morning.
They brought a letter addressed to the Australian people asking Prime Minister Tony Abbott to push the Indonesian government to release at least 55 political prisoners jailed in West Papua.
They also asked for foreign diplomats, journalists, observers and tourists to be allowed into West Papua without special permits.
"We want these leaders to persuade the Indonesian government to treat Papuan people better. Human right abuse [sic] are our routine,'' the letter said.
The letter did not ask for independence from Indonesia.
West Papuan academic Dr Clinton Fernandes said Australia's Consul-General in Bali, Brett Farmer, threatened to expel the three men telling them to leave or he'd call the Indonesian police, ABC news reported.
Darwin protester Vaughn Williams was outraged.
"If Brett Farmer doesn't provide protection for these brave people he should be sacked,'' he said.
Australia is now bound by the Lombok Treaty with Indonesia which prevents activities in Australia that constitute a threat to Indonesia's sovereignty, such as West Papuan separatism.
Legal experts say the terms of the Lombok treaty are loosely drafted and open to interpretation making it easy for misunderstandings between the nations.
Last week Prime Minister Tony Abbott assured Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono that he would not tolerate "grandstanding'' by West Papuan activists.
Mr Abbott is due in Bali tomorrow for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' summit.
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon called on Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to grant sanctuary for the activists.
West Papua became part of Indonesia in the 1960s. Large numbers of Indonesian Muslims have moved to the province which was formerly populated by Melanesians who mostly follow Christianity or traditional animist beliefs.
Thousands of refugees have since fled to neighbouring Papua New Guinea, claiming persecution and human rights abuses.
Amnesty International said peaceful political activism is highly restricted in the Indonesian territory.
Waving a West Papuan morning star flag is considered treason and results in lengthy jail terms.
Asylum seeker group DASSAN spokeswoman Fernanda Dahlstrom said she held grave fears for any West Papuans being held by Australia.
"If they are returned to PNG they are in danger of being deported to Indonesia because of the extradition treaty,'' she said.
West Papuans fleeing to Australia risk being sent to Papua New Guinea for processing and resettlement like other asylum seekers.
But Papua New Guinea signed an extradition treaty with Indonesia in June that puts the refugees at risk of being deported back to the country they fled from.
The treaty was signed just one month before former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced the deal to send asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has refused to answer repeated questions on how many West Papuans are now in detention in Darwin or whether they risk being sent to Papua New Guinea.
A source who cannot be identified said there are at least four in detention in Darwin now.
Channel Nine News footage caught one melanesian man disembarking a Customs vessel in Darwin two weeks ago.
It is not known whether any of the West Papuans have seen a lawyer.
Ms Dahlstrom said DASSAN could send free lawyers in to the West Papuans if only they knew their names but the Immigration Department and the Minister both refuse to answer questions.
The issue of West Papua has always been delicate for Australia and Indonesia.
In 2006 Australia, under the leadership of Prime Minister John Howard, granted asylum to 42 Papuans.
The move caused a furious reaction from Indonesia which recalled its ambassador and accused Australia of giving tacit support to the Papuan separatist movement.