PNG GOVERNOR TEKWIE URGES AUSTRALIA TO BACK WEST PAPUAN INDEPENDENCE

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 2, 2000 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---A provincial governor has called on Australian Prime Minister John Howard to take up the cause of West Papuan independence.

Speaking at the Second National Congress of West Papua, held in Jayapura, Indonesia, Sandaun Governor John Tekwie said Australia, along with the Netherlands and the United States, had to make up for their actions in 1969 when the United Nations accepted the integration of the former Dutch colony into Indonesia.

"They drank coffee in New York," he said, "and they decided to throw a knife at this beautiful island. "Now I call on the U.S., the Netherlands Prime Minister and the Prime Minister of Australia to fix this problem."

Mr. Tekwie said the 1969 act of free choice in which 1,025 handpicked representatives of the West Papuans voted unanimously to integrate with Indonesia in a disputed referendum, had divided the two peoples.

"Before, our people traveled freely across this land," he said.

He called on the more than 2,000 delegates to the congress to unite behind the Papuan Peoples Presidium to work for independence.

"Now, you might think the white men are clever but I think they are so stupid," he said.

"They cannot stop the will of the people to build a nation. No bullet, no gun, no atomic power can stop the will of the people."

He warned them to avoid allowing division to develop.

That could only lead to problems like those experienced in other restive provinces of Indonesia, such as Aceh and the Maluku islands, and lead to bloody division like that which occurred in East Timor, he said.

"We don't want bloodshed, we want freedom, we want peace and we want common sense," he said. In thanking Mr. Tekwie, Presidium Co-chairman Tom Beanal saluted the Melanesian solidarity of spirit expressed by the governor.

"We will go on and on until the political line that separates us is wiped away," Mr. Beanal said.

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

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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