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OPM Operesi Papua Merderka Sydney, Australia

Media Release July 7, 1999


"New killings and mass arrests by joint Indonesian police and military forces of 44 civilians who participated in a peaceful flag raising ceremony, in Sorong (West Papua/Irian Jaya) on 5 July 1999, was a criminal act against humanity.

"We condemn such crimes and urge the Government of Indonesia to release them immediately. We also call on the Government of Australia and the international community to intervene and take all necessary measures to ensure their safety and also to prevent any further escalation of civilian disasters, social and political unrest," said Otto Ondawame, international spokesperson for the OPM in Sydney.

Four hundred soldiers of a "joint forces" opened gunfire on the crowd indiscriminately and pulled down the flag, which had been raised by the people. Considerable numbers of the crowd were seriously injured.

"Marthen Isir is in a critical condition having been shot in the head. He is under intensive medical care in public hospital with little hope of recovery. The lives of those 140 now detained in the police custody in Sorong are our serious concern," says Mr. Ondawame.

"We are very worried about the fate of these innocent civilians. We do not want the history of the Biak massacre one year ago and massacres in other parts of West Papua to be repeated at a time of peace dialogue and democratic process. We call on the Government of Indonesia to allow independent human rights organizations, including health personnel to have access to monitor their conditions," said Otto Ondawame.

The general situation in the city is now very tense. Main roads in the city area closed to the public and tightly controlled by the security forces. New curfews have already been put in place since yesterday as well as searching for the suspected members of the OPM. All shops in the city were closed down yesterday. People are afraid to go out and there is difficulty in getting basic needs.

"We hope this was not a result of an orchestrated event as in other cases of destabilization so that the Papuan suffer deprivation of basic necessities. If these conditions continue for more than a few days, it may lead to a new "worst scenario." It may not only generate new waves of social and political unrest, but also discredit the peace initiative that is presently being undertaken by the Forum for Reconciliation of the people of West Papua (FORERI) with the Government of Indonesia" said Otto Ondawame.

Further information, please contact: John O. Ondawame at 61 2 9960 1698 (home) or 9950 3674 (Office)

Provided by Vikki John (

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