WEST IRIAN CONGRESS IN SECURITY SHADOW

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (January 7, 1999 - Post-Courier)---Security implications are among several reasons why the Government cannot tolerate pro-West Irian activities for independence on PNG soil.

Sources from the Foreign Affairs office, speaking on conditions of anonymity, said Indonesia and PNG have in place a treaty of mutual respect and understanding.

A policy within that agreement recognizes that Irian Jaya is an integral part of Indonesia and the independence struggle is a domestic matter for Indonesia to deal out.

The sources also said, in light of the above international treaty, "PNG will not allow illegal OPM activities against Indonesia on PNG soil.''

Police operations commander Joe Gawi said police were only following orders from Foreign Affairs to pull down the signboard.

Meanwhile, the President of the West Papua Congress, Michael Kareth, acknowledged that there was an agreement between the two countries.

Mr. Kareth, however, said the two nations had also signed the Convention on Human Rights and therefore should abide by them by recognizing the West Irian struggle.

He also urged the PNG Government not to listen to Indonesia but rather to engage in dialogue with the United Nations and The Netherlands, which were responsible in handing West Irian as a colony to Indonesia.

According to Mr. Kareth, support for the Congress is overwhelming from international groups.

General Secretary of the PNG Council of Churches, Reverend Leva Kila Pat, said getting police to pull down the signboard raised serious questions.

Rev. Pat said he did not have any objections to the signboard as it was merely a signpost to inform the public where the Congress office was located.

Private lawyer and human rights activist Powes Parkop said the treaty was binding between the two governments (Indonesia/PNG) but it did not apply to PNG citizens.

Mr. Parkop maintained that they were only exercising their rights.

He further urged "police to do things in a civilized manner by taking out a court order'' to stop West Irian supporters if they were in the wrong.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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