PNG TO HAND OVER THE 11 IRIANESE HOSTAGES ON SUNDAY

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VAMINO, Papua New Guinea (June 1, 1999 - KABAR IRIAN)---Papua New Guinea Defense Minister Peter Waieg will officially hand over 11 freed Irianese hostages to Indonesian Ambassador Benny Mandalika, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry said.

In its press release issued on Tuesday, the ministry said the 11

The 11 hostages are plantation workers who were kidnapped after being attacked by 30 armed members of an Irianese security disturbers gang (GPK) on May 5.

At least four people were killed and three others injured in the attack.

On May 31, a Papua New Guinea military operation led by Brig.

Gen. Jerry Singirok managed to locate the hostages in Bewani valley, Sandaun province, and all of them were in good health.

The ministry said the Indonesian government was thankful to the Papua New Guinea government for its assistance in securing the release of the 11 Irianese hostages.

It said the efforts made by the neighboring country indicated its strong commitment to promote friendly relations with Indonesia, and not to let the GPK use its territory for political and military activities against the Indonesian government.

 

NO SEXUAL HARASSMENT BY GPK ON HOSTAGES

VANIMO, Papua New Guinea (June 2, 1999 - KABAR IRIAN)---Irian Jaya military commander Major General Amir Sembiring said there have been no reports on sexual harassment on the female hostages by the disturbers gang (GPK) which held them hostage since May 5.

They had even been treated humanely, but many of the hostages had foot injuries because the gang had to constantly move from one hideout to another to avoid government security personnel.

"There have been no reports on the matter (sexual harassment), and they are generally in good health," the two-star Army General said on Tuesday.

He said that a report from the Indonesian Consul in Vanimo, PNG, Budi Susanto, revealed that the 11 hostages had been given food and shelter at the Consulate in Vanimo, pending their hand over to Indonesian Ambassador to the PNG Benny Mandalika by PNG Defense Minister Pieter Weiang scheduled on Wednesday (June 2).

Later they will be picked up in Vanimo by Irian Jaya provincial administration personnel on two Indonesian Air Force helicopters and, along with some PNG officials, returned to Jayapura.

General Sembiring said the hostages had been freed without an exchange of fire between PNG security personnel and the GPK.

"Apparently because they did not see any chance to escape, they released their hostages who were at that time near River Bewani," he said. After the hostages fell into the hands of the PNG security personnel they were brought to Scothciau before going to Vanimo, he added.

The freeing of the hostages who were mostly workers of PTP II Arso, was said to be the quickest among other abduction cases in Irian Jaya.

 

REBELS RAPED US: INDON HOSTAGES

VANIMO, Papua New Guinea (June 2, 1999 - KABAR IRIAN/The National)---Two of the seven Indonesian women captives released here this week say that they were sexually assaulted during their month-long captivity by Irian Jaya separatist rebels inside Papua New Guinea.

They said through an interpreter here that they were raped, tortured and sexually molested by members of the Operasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) faction led by Hans Bomai in the Bewani Ranges of West Sepik province.

Members of the PNG security forces engaged in Operation Selemat, which led to the release of the seven women and four men at Bewani on Monday, also confirmed the women's harrowing experience.

Frail, dehydrated, shocked and still terrified by the experience, the women, some of them mothers, said they thanked God that they were still alive and were finally free from the ordeal.

"We are happy to be free and look forward to returning to our families," said 23-year-old Durmin Pipit, a mother of one.

The women thanked the PNG security forces, especially PNG Defense Force commander Brigadier-General Jerry Singirok who spent almost a week in the jungles of Bewani, to negotiate their release.

The mainly ethnic Javanese women who were obviously shy to give graphic details of their experience said self-styled rebel leader Bomai was the man who inflicted the worse treatment on them.

"Hans Bomai is an animal," said 33-year-old Sumarmi, a university student.

The Indonesian Consul here, Marcus Budis Susanto, refused to provide further details, saying that the hostages were not officially handed over to Indonesian authorities.

The captives were flown from Bewani to Vanimo at about 6am in a Defence Force Iriquois and the Police Bell 407 helicopters.

By yesterday evening, Brig-Gen Singirok accompanied by members of the security forces were scheduled to fly the 11 to Jayapura and hand them over to the Indonesian authorities.

Prime Minister Bill Skate yesterday congratulated Brig-Gen Singirok and all personnel involved in the release of the 11 hostages.

"The deeply entrenched dispute the hostages were caught up in has existed for some time and I urge all involved to address the problems you face through peaceful means," Mr. Skate said in a statement.

Indonesian Ambassador Benny Mandalika said in a letter to Mr Skate, "I have the honor on behalf of the Indonesian Government and the people of Indonesia and the people of Irian Jaya specifically to express our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to you, for your strong support and involvement to free the 11 Indonesian hostages."

KABAR IRIAN ("Irian News")

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