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STUDENTS CALL FOR IRIAN JAYA WITNESS PROTECTION

JAYAPURA, Irian Jaya (July 17, 1999 – Jakarta Post)---Students have demanded protection for witnesses and relatives of victims of the July 1998 military shooting of protesters in Biak.

On Friday, they said that only with a security guarantee could the witnesses testify over the incident, which was responsible for up to 40 deaths and injuries to dozens of others.

"We want a written statement from local authorities guaranteeing the safety of these people," Septinus Inggabouw, a student leader, said.

Irian Jaya Governor Freddy Numbery met with the students, and approved the demand.

"Basically I, the Irian Jaya Military Commander (Maj. Gen. Amir Sembiring) and Irian Jaya Police Chief (Brig. Gen. Hotman Siagian) are ready to issue the security guarantee," Freddy said.

Local military admitted to one death during the shooting incident in Biak to disperse hundreds of Irianese who hoisted a West Papua "Morning Star" flag in July last year.

After a year of investigation into the incident, the Evangelical Christian Church and Indonesian Bible camp Church released their findings earlier this month. Their report indicates at least eight deaths, three missing persons and 37 injured (four of whom were crippled), and with 32 more bodies found floating on Biak River.

PROTESTERS REJECT DIVISION OF IRIAN JAYA, DEMAND INDEPENDENCE

JAKARTA, Indonesia (July 16, 1999 – Indonesian Observer)---More than 200 protesters staged a noisy demonstration yesterday near the Parliament building, demanding independence for Irian Jaya and rejecting the government’s plan to slice the easternmost province into three separate provinces.

They also demanded that the government release jailed members of the Free Papua Movement (OPM).

Police barricades and hundreds of anti-riot officers confronted the chanting and dancing protesters, who blocked access to the building.

Legislators were left waiting outside, but police did not intervene against the demonstrators. Some security personnel actually smiled broadly while watching the Irianese perform their traditional dances.

"We have demanded our independence ever since Indonesia took away our freedom in 1963," said protest organizer Ody Demitol.

He condemned human rights abuses by members of the security forces, who are tasked with stamping out the separatist rebellion in the province.

Demonstrators, who assembled at about 10:30 a.m., wore headscarves reading "West Papua Will Never Die" and waved the region’s illegal independence flag.

They also chanted anti-Indonesia slogans and displayed various banners, which had slogans such as "Stop the Slaughters in Aceh, East Timor and West Papua," "We Love Peace, But We Love Freedom Even More," and "We Can Live With Our Own Customs."

The protesters also brought along stereos and cassettes to provide background music for their traditional dances.

Indonesia occupied West Papua, a Dutch colony, in 1963. The province was renamed Irian Jaya and Indonesian sovereignty was formalized in 1969 through a UN-approved referendum that favored incorporation, but pro-independence forces say the vote was rigged.

Irian Jaya is one of three provinces where separatist rebels are fighting for independence. The other two are the former Portuguese colony of East Timor and Aceh, a predominantly Muslim region on the northern tip of Sumatra.

The Free Papua Movement has been fighting for independence since the late 1970s.

Yesterday’s protesters expressed concern over a recent series of killings and abductions of activists in Sorong, Jayapura district.

About 20 representatives of the demonstrators were received by a public relations official from Parliament. The demonstrators wanted to meet with the House of Representatives’ Commission I, but the commission was in a meeting with State Secretary/Justice Minister Muladi.

After a long wait under the scorching sun, the 20 representatives were eventually met by members of the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) parliamentary faction, led by Isaac Latuconsina. While the representatives met with the military legislators, other demonstrators made speeches in the parking lot, criticizing economic gaps and poverty in the province.

In a letter to House Speaker Harmoko, the protesters complained about the abduction of pro-independence activists in the province.

TRANSMIGRANTS FLEE UNREST

SEMARANG, Indonesia (July 16, 1999 – Jakarta Post)---A total of 1,247 transmigrant farmers from Central Java have returned to their hometowns following unrest at their transmigration sites, according to the head of the provincial transmigration office, Dyah Paramawartiningsih.

She said 1,006 transmigrants returned from Aceh, 199 from East Timor, 30 from West Kalimantan, nine from Irian Jaya and three from Maluku.

She said the majority of the transmigrants hailed from the Central Java regencies of Cilacap, Wonosobo, Kendal, Batang, Semarang, Pati, Demak, Tegal, Karanganyar, Boyolali, Purworejo, Purbalingga and Brebes.

Dyah said the transmigrants were willing to be resent to areas outside of the densely populated Java which were safe from unrest and ethnic conflict.

KABAR IRIAN ("Irian News")

Website: http://www.irja.org/

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