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JAYAPURA, Irian Jaya (August 16, 2000 – Jakarta Post/Kabar Irian)---The United States government and Congress have expressed their support for the Irian Jaya people's struggle for independence, a Papuan leader said on Monday.

Deputy chairman of the Papuan Council Presidium Thom Beanal told journalists on Monday that he and Willy Mandowen, another Papuan figure, had just returned from the United States.

As the person entrusted with the mandate of the Papuan National Congress II, they handed over the results of the congress to President Bill Clinton, members of the U.S. Congress and the U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, Beanal said.

He did not reveal when the trip was made and, so far, there has been no statement from the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta about the matter.

The congress took place in Jayapura from May 29 to June 3.

"President Bill Clinton, Congressmen, the Secretary General of the World Council of Churches, as well as the ambassador were surprised by the struggle of the Papuans to get back their independence from the Dutch administration and that they were robbed of that opportunity by the United States and the United Nations through the New York pact in 1962, Trikora (Order) in 1963, and the Act of Free Choice in 1969," Beanal said.

Trikora, which stands for Tri Komando Rakyat or three people's commands, was a mobilization carried out by Indonesia under former president Sukarno to wrest the western part of New Guinea, now Irian Jaya, from the Dutch.

According to Beanal, the U.S. Congressmen will send letters to President Clinton and ask President Abdurrahman Wahid to respond to the Papuan congress and review the Papuans' political status.

The churches will do the same, acknowledging that Papuans have been living in intimidation and oppression, he said.

"If the base of the struggle (for independence) is peace and love, in accordance with religious values, we are ready to support Papuans willing to face their future, which will be more peaceful and prosperous on their own land," Beanal said, quoting the Congressmen and the World Council of Churches.

Beanal, who is the commissioner of the copper mining giant PT Freeport Indonesia, said that during the international lobbying, he also visited PT Freeport Indonesia's boss in New Orleans, James Moffet. He also met with several businessmen in the United States.

He said some businessmen expressed their worries about investing in the resource-rich province.

Papuan Council Presidium chairman Theys Hiyo Eluay reiterated that the South Pacific countries of Vanuatu and Nauru gave similar support.

Vanuatu and Nauru are the first countries to express support for the Papuans independence movement in Irian Jaya.

Eluay said that he led a nine-man Papuan delegation to meet Vanuatu Premier Barak T. Sope Mautamate and Nauru Premier Bernard Dowiyogo on July 31.

The two premiers said they promised to convey the aspirations of the province to the United Nations' general assembly in September.

The two countries have also agreed to finance the Papuans' struggle for independence.

KABAR IRIAN ("Irian News") Website: http://www.irja.org/ 

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