FIFTH LEADER OF PAPUA'S INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT ARRESTED

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JAYAPURA, Indonesia (December 5, 2000 – ABC Australia)---Police in Indonesia's province of Irian Jaya have arrested a fifth leader of the independence movement, an officer said today.

The Rev. Herman Awom was formally detained at police headquarters in the province's capital, Jayapura, yesterday, following more than five hours of questioning, police sergeant Wahyudi said.

"Mr. Awom is now in detention and sharing a cell with his colleagues from the Papua Presidium," Mr. Wahyudi said.

Mr. Awom presented himself at police headquarters shortly before nightfall yesterday, dressed in a flowing black preacher's robe, clutching a bible and flanked by a fellow preacher, his lawyers, wife and three daughters and several members of his congregation.

Police have charged him with subversion for his alleged separatist activities.

Four other leaders of the Papua Presidium, Irian Jaya's non-governmental separatist council, were charged with the same offences last week.

The four included the chief, Theys Eluay.

Mr. Eluay, Presidium secretary general Taha Al-Hamid and members Don Flassy and John Mambor were arrested between Wednesday and Thursday last week.

Speaking to Agence France-Presse through their cell bars yesterday, the four detainees said they were taking their arrests as "part of the struggle."

The four said they were being treated well.

All four said police had finished questioning them and they were awaiting their release pending a trial, as promised by the police.

They said police asked them the "usual questions" about which country the province belonged to and whether they recognized it as the Indonesian province of Irian Jaya, rather than the sovereign state of West Papua.

The arrests were part of a concerted crackdown on the independence movement coinciding with last Friday's 39th anniversary of an unrecognized declaration of Papuan nationhood.

On December 1, 1961, as former Dutch colonizers departed the western half of New Guinea island, native Papuans declared independence.

Indonesian troops began infiltrating Irian Jaya in 1962, and in 1969 a UN-organized referendum ratified Indonesian sovereignty over the province.

Independence leaders maintain the vote was flawed and unrepresentative.

Irian Jaya is home to a native Melanesian population of 1.8 million people, most of them Christians, plus another 700,000 settlers from other parts of Indonesia

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U.S. URGES INDONESIAN RESTRAINT IN IRIAN JAYA

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 5, 2000 – Kopitime/Kabar-Irian)---The United States on Monday called for Indonesia to exercise restraint and begin negotiations with separatists in Irian Jaya after deadly clashes that claimed at least 10 lives.

"We certainly regret the tragic loss of life and we call on the government of Indonesia and the people of Irian Jaya to exercise restraint and refrain from acts of violence," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

"Legitimate political differences, we believe, should be addressed in this area through peaceful dialogue, not by acts of violence or provocation," Boucher said. "And we urge the government of Indonesia to engage local leaders in such a dialogue without delay."

Ten people were killed in clashes with security forces in the town of Merauke on December 1 and 2.

Boucher affirmed Washington's support for Indonesia's territorial integrity. But he expressed concern about the continued detention of leaders of the Papuan Presidium Council.

"These detentions should have no place in today's open and democratic Indonesia," he said.

The prospect of the vast country splitting up and threatening stability across Southeast Asia has caused alarm in Washington and several other capitals.

Relations between Washington and Jakarta have been especially delicate in recent days, following a row between U.S. Ambassador Robert S. Gelbard and senior Indonesian ministers over security.

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

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