POLICE LAUNCH PROBE OVER SEPARATIST PAPUA CONGRESS

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (June 12, 2000 - Indonesian Observer/Antara/Kabar Irian)---National Police Chief General Rusdihardjo said yesterday his office has launched an investigation into several separatist figures in relation to the recent congress that declared independence in Irian Jaya or West Papua.

However, no one has been named as a suspect in the case as the probe was continuing, he was quoted as saying on private television SCTV.

Rusdihardjo did not say how many Papuan leaders have been summoned for questioning on charge of committing an act of treason and sowing hatred during the separatist congress.

Earlier this month, local leaders and activists ended the so-called Papua Peoples Congress with a decision to declare the province an independent state.

The government has rejected the congress as unfair because it did not represent the majority of the local people.

The declaration did not win support from any foreign country.

Meanwhile, police in Papua said three leaders who organized the congress ignored police summonses on Saturday. They are Theys Hiyo Eluay, Agus H. Alua and Thaha Alhamid.

The police detective unit (of the Irian Jaya police) was told that the three could not come today (Saturday). But they were ready to respond to the summonses next Tuesday, an officer at the local police headquarters was quoted by Antara as saying.

No specific reason was given for their failure to meet the summonses.

But their lawyer, Latifah Anum Siregar of the Irian Jaya Team of Human Rights Advocates, said her clients had important things to do on Saturday.

Latifah said her clients had agreed to be questioned by the police on June 13.

Local human rights activists have deplored the police move to summon the three Papuan leaders.

It is improper for the police to summon them on the pretext that they are suspected of treason.

The people of Papua expressed their political aspirations in a democratic way, said Demianmus Wakman, director of the Jayapura Legal Aid Institute.

Director of the Human Rights Studies Institution (Elsham) of Irian Jaya Branch, Yohanis G. Bonay, also questioned the summonses.

"If the summons was caused by the treason allegation, then I think it is improper because what had been sounded by the Papua people is part of freedom of expression," Bonay told Antara.

He urged the police to halt the investigation into those involved in the congress, claiming the probe contradicts the process of democratization.

In a democratic situation, having differences of opinions is a common practice, said Yohanis, who is also a Papuan separatist activist.

Rusdihardjo also said he will send armed police reinforcements to Papua if social unrest breaks out following the separatist congress.

"We may send our mobile-brigade personnel, who are now based in Maluku, to Irian Jaya if the situation in the province gets hot or turns violent," he said.

He said the situation in the rebellious and wealthy eastern province was now under control but said calls for independence were increasing.

"We have put our personnel there on alert. . . but overall the situation is under control. I have also reminded my personnel to keep a cool head because they are all our brothers," the police chief said.

Irian Jaya, with huge mineral and oil deposits, is home to one of the worlds biggest copper and gold mines, run by the U.S. firm Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc.

The region was incorporated into Indonesia in 1963, after heavy diplomatic pressure on the Netherlands.

In 1969, a UN-run plebiscite was held among local leaders which resulted in a vote to join Indonesia.

KABAR IRIAN ("Irian News") www.kabar-irian.com 

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