WAHID WARNS MILITARY NOT TO OVERREACT TO SEPARATISTS IN PAPUA

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (June 8, 2000 – Radio Australia)---Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid has warned the military against resorting to violence to deal with calls for independence in West Papua, formally known as Irian Jaya.

The Indonesian Observer, quotes him as saying the army must not act like they did in the past. " Our soldiers were sent to Aceh and they attacked the people."

Mr. Wahid said he believes the people are not the enemy and soldiers must be polite.

Referring to past years of harsh military rule Mr. Wahid warned that the use of violence in dealing with independence calls would add insult to injury.

He called for restraint on both sides.

A weeklong people's congress in West Papua, the archipelago's easternmost province, ended Sunday with a declaration of the right to independence from Indonesia.

Congress participants said the incorporation of Irian Jaya, formerly Dutch New Guinea, into Indonesia in 1969 was legally flawed and therefore null and void.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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