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JAKARTA, Indonesia (October 10, 2000 – Indonesian Observer/Kabar-Irian)---Thousands of migrants are now being sheltered in a Roman Catholic mission, police offices, and army barracks following the Irianese attack against migrants in the Irian Jaya town of Wamena on Friday and Saturday, killing as many as 40 people.

The attack was sparked by a police operation to remove a separatist group’s "Morning Star" flag, which was flying in several areas of Wamena.

Members and supporters of Papua separatist groups attacked officers sent out to remove the flag. Police killed two in the fight that ensued.

Catholic priest Tarsius Awe said migrant families flocked to his mission on Saturday and requested a security guarantee from police before returning home. "People are still scared to go out. There is fear and tension on the streets," Awe was quoted by AP as saying.

Shops began reopening yesterday after being closed since the violence erupted Friday.

Antara reported police had arrested an American citizen for photographing victims of the violence. The American, identified as Aaron Ward Waness, was detained yesterday after showing his pictures to staff at a Wamena hotel.

Local police said the man had violated the terms of his tourist visa. The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta said it had no details of the incident.

Privately owned RCTI television quoted the provincial police chief, Brigadier General Silvanus Wenas, as saying that 30 people had been killed, 24 were non-indigenous settlers and six were tribesmen. Other reports, however, said as many as 40 were killed.

In Jakarta, National Police Chief General Suroyo Bimantoro rejected calls for more troops and police to be sent to the scene. He told reporters after meeting with President Abdurrahman Wahid that the number of security forces in the province was sufficient.

He also said persuasive approaches would be used in the future if people in the province tried to raise separatist flags. The flying of rebel flags has become a symbolic and provocative act of defiance against Indonesia’s central government and military, which has rejected calls for independence for the resource-rich, but largely underdeveloped region.

Indigenous Papuans have long resented the presence of settlers from other parts of the country who dominate commerce and industry, as well as the security forces, in the province.

Papua leaders blame government

A number of Papua leaders in the Papua Council Presidium yesterday blamed the central government for the Wamena riots. They said the incident was caused by disputing stances issued by President Abdurrahman Wahid and the police chief over the rebel flag.

"The Presidium regrets the central government’s dualism over the Papua flag hoisting policy which caused a deadly conflict that claimed lives," the Presidium’s spokesman Willy Mandowen told a press conference here yesterday.

He said that Gus Dur’s policy, as stated by Cabinet Secretary Marsillam Simanjuntak, has endorsed the hoisting of a "Morning Star" flag as long as the flag is smaller than Indonesia’s Red and White flag and as long as the flag is flown on a separate, and shorter, pole.

Mendowen was accompanied by Tom Beanal, a local tribe chief who is also a council executive and Yorrys Raweyai, a Papuan youth figure.

Mendowen continued that the president’s stance was quite different from that of the police apparatus. The national police chief had ordered regional police chiefs to ban all attempts to hoist the "Morning Star" flag.

"Based on the Papua regional police chief’s briefing and after receiving [Vice President] Megawati’s endorsement, the Jayawijaya police chief conducted an operation to take down the "Morning Star" flag that was hoisted on Friday morning, Mendowen said.

The Council then urged the government to hold a special meeting among ministers under the direction of Coordinating Minister of Politic, Security, and Social Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to discuss the Papua problem.

"The meeting has to be attended by Papua regional officials and members from the Papua Presidium Council and the ‘Morning Star’ hoisting policy has to be the main agenda. We demand that Papua be declared a peace zone," Mendowen reiterated.



JAKARTA, Indonesia (October 9, 2000 – The Jakarta Post/Kabar-Irian)---The pro-independence Papua Presidium has condemned the violent rioting in the Papuan hinterland town of Wamena that it said had left 58 civilians dead and dozens of others injured.

"The Presidium, on behalf of the Papuan people, extends its deep condolence to the victims' families and condemns the repressive actions taken by security personnel from the Mobile Brigade (Brimob) to bring down the "Morning Star" flags in the district.

"The killing of the migrants was merely a spontaneous reaction to the security personnel's arrogance," Thom A. Beanal, deputy chairman of the Papua Presidium, said in a press conference on Monday.

Accompanied by Willy Mandowen, the presidium's secretary, and Yorris Raweyai, a presidium member, Thom said the rioting was triggered by the violent actions taken by security personnel to take down the Papuan flags, an action which was against a recent agreement between the provincial administration and the presidium.

"The removal by force of the pro-independence movement's flags was against the agreement reached between the provincial authorities in Papua and the presidium in Jayapura on October 3. The two sides agreed to extend the deadline for hoisting of the separatist flags to October 19," he said.

Thom accused the military and the National Police of using a repressive approach to quell the independence movement and ethnically cleanse the Papuans.

"We do not want repression but dialogs to seek a peaceful solution to the Papuan problems," he said.

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

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