ARMY CHIEF WARNS AGAINST RAISING WEST PAPUAN

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FLAG IN IRIAN JAYA

JAKARTA, Indonesia (July 7, 1998 - Radio Australia)---The head of Indonesia's armed forces has warned the army will not tolerate the raising of the West Papuan flag in the province of Irian Jaya.

General Wiranto, who is also Indonesia's Minister of Defense, says raising the flag is an act of treason.

His comments to reporters in the Indonesian capital Jakarta come after Indonesian troops fired at a crowd of pro-independence demonstrators who had raised the West Papuan flag on Irian Jayan island of Biak.

There have been conflicting reports over the number of casualties in the incident, but local human rights sources say five people may have been killed, and 24 were taken to the hospital with injuries.

The Catholic Bishop of the provincial capital Jayapura, Leo Ladjar, has called on the armed forces to show a greater understanding.

"I don't believe that all groups who raise the flags in Irian Jaya now are very serious about political independence," he said. "So I think that the reaction of the military against them is too strong. Maybe if they approached the people in a more peaceful way, the problem could be solved more easily."

 

FURTHER REPORTS OF A MILITARY CRACKDOWN IN IRIAN JAYA

JAKARTA, Indonesia (July 7, 1998 - Radio Australia)---There are further reports of a military crackdown in Irian Jaya as students and pro-independence supporters continue demonstrations.

Radio Australia correspondent Mark Bowling reports human rights sources say at least three people died and many were wounded when police opened fire on a crowd:

"The shootings occurred yesterday in Biak off the northern coast of Irian Jaya. An Indonesian security force commander says only rubber bullets were fired to disperse a crowd of demonstrators raising a separatist flag. But the Legal Aid Institute in the Irian Jayan capital, Jayapura, says at least three people died.

"Church sources claim the death toll is five with 20 seriously wounded.

"Similar flag raising demonstrations have been reported in the Irian Jayan towns of Sarong and Wemena as members of the Free Papua Movement continue a long term struggle for independence from Indonesia.

"Mark Bowling, Jakarta."

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