Aboriginal diplomat threatened with body search by Australian customs

APG diplomat and treasurer Pekeri Ruska (Goenpul/Yuggera). Photo: apg.org.au.

The Aboriginal Provisional Government (APG) made the following media release on May 12, 2015.

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APG diplomat Pekeri Ruska (Goenpul/Yuggera) was harassed and threatened by customs officials at Brisbane international airport this afternoon after presenting only her Aboriginal passport which had been stamped on entry and exit from Honiara, Solomon Islands.

After 20 minutes of being asked repeatedly to present an Australian passport, Australian drivers licence etc, officials used the details on Ruska's Aboriginal passport to confirm that she was a resident of her own country. A customs official then took and photocopied her Aboriginal passport.

After being processed on this basis and passing through the customs gate, another official approached her and insisted that she present an Australian passport, threatening that Ruska's luggage would be searched, and that she would be taken to a room and body searched by a male official. Ruska was also taunted by another customs official who remarked several times, “Why do you do this? What point are you trying to prove?”

Ruska spent four days meeting and developing contacts with key members of the West Papuan independence movement.

“It makes me so angry that this happens when I try to come back into my own country using my Aboriginal passport,” she said.

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