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By Achmad Sukarsono

JAKARTA, Indonesia (October 9, 2000 – Reuters/Kabar-Irian)---Separatist leaders in Indonesia's Irian Jaya on Monday vowed to keep flying their ''Morning Star'' flag, setting them on a violent collision course with police charged with hauling down the banners.

Independence groups say at least 58 people have died since bloody clashes erupted in the highland town of Wamena on Friday after police shot dead several people protesting against efforts to pull down the separatist emblem.

Officials have put the death toll at around 30.

"The Papua independence movement will not stop simply because of a flag,'' senior pro-independence figure Willy Mandowen told a news conference in Jakarta.

"This incident has aroused Papuan nationalism and it will not be erased by any shootings,'' he said, adding independence supporters would continue flying the Morning Star.

But national police chief General Bimantoro said his men would pull down any Morning Star flags they found in Irian, also referred to as Papua.

Stone-Age Existence

Thousands of Indonesian migrants still afraid to go home after last week's violence, in which dozens of settlers were butchered, sheltered in churches, mosques and security force compounds around Wamena on Monday, local officials said.

Many of the migrants come from South Sulawesi and form the backbone of local business in the ramshackle bush town, where many highlanders still roam the streets in grass skirts or penis gourds, carrying spears and chewing betel nut.

The town, 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles) east of Jakarta, is the gateway to the lush Baliem Valley where tribesmen still live a stone-age existence.

Another independence leader, Tom Beanal, told reporters in Jakarta that the migrants were not the targets.

But he warned of more violence.

"They (the tribesmen) are using traditional warfare. If you're with them (the military), you're the enemy and you will be killed,'' he told a news conference in Jakarta.

"In their mind, I'm Papuan, you're Indonesian: we're at war.''

The fighting is some of the worst to hit the restive province in years and a bloody reminder of the separatist and communal tensions tearing at the world's fourth most populous nation.

In a bid to provide a safety valve for separatist passions, embattled President Abdurrahman Wahid allowed the previously banned Morning Star to be flown in Irian Jaya if it was next to and lower than the national flag.

Independence leaders said authorities had agreed to allow that order to stand until October 19 and accuse the police of breaking the agreement with Friday's actions. It was not clear why the date of October 19 had been chosen.

Wahid, also beset by a separatist push in Aceh province on the northern tip of Sumatra, has ruled out independence for the giant, resource-rich province, home to two million people.

Almost half the population of the province is migrants, mainly from South Sulawesi.

Shoot On Sight

Some were lured by business opportunities, but thousands more were shipped in by the government under its much-criticized transmigration program to resettle people from overcrowded areas such as Java.

That policy fuelled the tensions now being blamed for much of the violence around the diverse nation.

Police in Wamena have threatened to shoot troublemakers on sight, although most tribesmen have fled to surrounding hills.

A local policeman said the isolated town, far from any of Irian Jaya's major mining operations, was under control.

Wamena is about 200 kilometers (125 miles) east of the giant Grasberg copper and gold mine, one of the world's largest, which has been the target of anti-separatist sentiment in the past.

Wamena police have also detained an American they said took photos of the Friday riot, the official Antara news agency said.

Police said Aaron Ward Waness violated his visa by showing the pictures in public, including to guests at his hotel.

The man is to be sent to the provincial capital, Jayapura, about 300 kilometers m (185 miles) from Wamena, for further questioning.

Antara gave no further details.

A low-level separatist insurgency has simmered for decades in Irian Jaya -- Indonesia's easternmost province.

Irian Jaya was incorporated into Indonesia in 1963 after heavy diplomatic pressure on the Netherlands, the country's former colonial ruler. In 1969, a U.N.-run plebiscite was held among local leaders, which resulted in a vote to join Indonesia.

The vote has been widely criticized as unfair.

KABAR-IRIAN ("Irian News") Websites: and 



JAKARTA, Indonesia (October 10, 2000 - Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat)---Human rights and church groups have urged the government to act immediately to stop further bloodshed in West Papua following weekend fighting that killed 28 people or more. (Independence groups say at least 58 people have died.)

The violence started when police tore down separatist flags and shot dead two pro-independence supporters on Friday.

The deaths sparked two days of violence in which police say separatists killed at least 28 people, most of whom had settled in West Papua from other Indonesian provinces.

West Papuan human rights leader John Rumbiak blames the incident on a power play within the Indonesian leadership.

"This president is trying to promote democracy," Rumbiak said. "But it’s difficult going from a military system to democracy. The military wants to maintain the status quo to control the country. This problem is causing confusion within the people.

Rumbiak said Jakarta needs to have the political will to peacefully resolve the West Papuan situation. He said it can’t be done without negotiations and dialogue.

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

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