CONTINUED CONFLICT IN WEST PAPUA

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JAYAPURA, West Papua (September 25-October 1, 2000 Edition - Tempo Magazine/Kabar-Irian)---He looked like a policeman, they said, and so they killed him. The incident occurred in West Papua’s Abepura town and the victim was a student at Cenderawasih University. He was killed by five men with close-cropped hair.

Law student Johanes Sawaky and his friend Maria were returning from the Church of Hope at the time. Suddenly Johan was gagged and stabbed with a bayonet. Maria later said the killers accused Johan of being a policeman.

"You are the policeman who killed the military commander. Don’t say that you are a student," she quoted them saying. Johan fell and died of loss of blood.

This killing appears linked to a bust-up two weeks back between members of the army’s Kopassus special forces and the police. Police beat a member of Kopassus stationed at Jayapura’s port, breaking a rib. Police also attacked Jayapura’s Aryoko army hospital, killing the district’s military commander, First Lieutenant Nurhidayat.

Johan knew nothing about this. He appears to have been the innocent victim of a feud between the forces. His killing caused 2,000 students from various colleges to take to the streets of Abepura in protest on Thursday of last week. They cut down trees and burned tires along the main Abepura to Sentani road. As a result, the two towns were paralyzed.

Fighting between the different branches of Indonesia’s security forces in West Papua is increasing, according to the leading Human Rights Study and Advocacy Foundation (Elsham). Its workers fear the lower ranks could get out of control and make Papua another conflict zone in the image of Aceh or Maluku.

KABAR-IRIAN ("Irian News") Websites: http://www.irja.org/index2.shtml  and http://www.kabar-irian.com 

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