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FAKFAK, Irian Jaya (February 2, 2000 - The Jakarta Post/Kabar Irian)---The Irian Jaya provincial legislative council wants the central government to stop sending transmigrants from densely populated areas of the province.

Florens Imbiri, the head of the Love the Nation Democratic Party (PDKB) faction, told The Jakarta Post on Monday that the legislative council had urged the government, through the Ministry of Transmigration office in Irian Jaya, to stop its resettlement programs for Irian Jaya.

He said the demand was communicated to the Minister of Transmigration, the People’s Consultative Assembly and the House of Representatives in Jakarta.

Florens did not say if the legislative council had sent an official letter to the Ministry of Transmigration over the demand.

Florens said the central government had given too much attention to the transmigrants by providing them with houses and land, while there was a large number of Irianese living in the hinterland who were still unaided by the government.

"Such discriminative treatment constitutes injustice and in turn triggers social jealousy in the future," Florens said.

The Irianese living in the hinterland must be given the priority, he said. "Therefore, stop the transmigration programs in Irian Jaya and start empowering the Irianese, especially those in remote areas," Florens said.

Records at the Irian Jaya Provincial Social Affairs office indicate that Irian Jaya now has a population of about 2 million, half of which are native Papuans.

"Some 477,000 of the Papuans live in remote and mountainous areas throughout the province. They have never been touched by development," Decky Asmuruf, the head of the Social Affairs office said.

"The first step the central government should take is to provide the isolated tribes with housing," Decky said.

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