PAPUANS APPEAL FOR HELP FROM PACIFIC AFTER ARREST OF LEADERS

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By Margaret Daure

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (December 3, 2000 - The National/PINA Nius Online, 3 December 2000)---Members of Dewan Papua in Port Moresby have appealed for help from the Pacific Islands following the Indonesian police arrest of key leaders of the Papua Council Presidium in Jayapura.

Dewan Papua Pacific Panel Secretary General Clemens Runawery issued a statement following reports of the arrest of key leaders Chief Theys H. Eluay, secretary general Thaha M. Alhamid, John A. Mambor, Don Plassy and the Right Reverend Herman Awom.

Mr. Runawery urged the international community, especially the governments and NGO's of the Pacific Islands Forum nations, to exert pressure on Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid to ensure the safety of the five men and for their immediate release, "as they are not criminals. They are political activists who stand for an independent West Papua."

Mr. Runawery said according to reports the leaders were taken to an unknown location by members of the Indonesian intelligence for interrogation on Tuesday and have not been seen since.

Mr. Runawery appealed to the international community to intervene immediately to prevent bloodshed and massacre, "which we fear will most likely occur since it has been confirmed that the arrests have only strengthened resolve by Papuans to proceed regardless of threats by the Indonesian military."

"The West Papuan independence issue cannot and should not be dealt with by police or the military. It must, however, be dealt with between the political leaderships of Indonesia and West Papua."

Mr. Runawery said West Papuans have a legitimate political body, the Presidium of Dewan Papua, which has been empowered by the people through the May/June 2000 Congress to find a political solution with President Wahid and his relevant ministers on the West Papuan independence issue.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

 

AT LEAST SEVEN NEW DEAD IN WEST PAPUA VIOLENCE

JAYAPURA, Irian Jaya (December 3, 2000 - Radio Australia/PINA Nius Online)---At least seven people have died after pro-independence Papuans protested in the town of Merauke, Radio Australia reports from the eastern Indonesian province of Irian Jaya (West Papua).

Merauke Hospital officials confirmed that six pro independence supporters had been shot dead and a taxi driver was killed with a spear. Five other people were injured.

The state-run Antara news agency said a group of Papuans raised the Morning Star independence flag in the town square in defiance of a government ban.

Earlier, two Papuan tribesmen were shot dead by security forces in the west coast town of Fak Fak, Radio Australia said.

Papuans had been marking the 39th anniversary of a still unrecognized West Papua declaration of independence from the Dutch on 1961.

In Jayapura, the provincial capital, Indonesian police peacefully ended a standoff with Papuan separatists by lowering the Morning Star independence flag in time for a midnight deadline.

Onlookers saluted and some wept as the banner, along with the Indonesian flag, was lowered.

Earlier, police used tear gas to disperse up to 300 Papuan independence supporters outside the American embassy in Jakarta.

The tough approach was sanctioned by President Abdurrahman Wahid, who, in a nationally televised address, denounced West Papuan attempts to proclaim independence.

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

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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