INDONESIAN TROOPS REPORTED TO BE IN PNG HUNTING WEST PAPUA REBELS

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (December 13, 2000 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---Villagers on the border of West Sepik and West Papua (Irian Jaya) are reported to have fled to other coastal villages in fear after Indonesian troops entered their villages in search of West Papua separatists, The National reported.

One person reported by phone from Vanimo that Indonesian soldiers entered Wutung village in motorbikes and trucks, and asked villagers if they had seen the people they were looking for.

"They were speaking in Bahasa Indonesian, and we replied that we did not know," the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

He said after the soldiers left, the villagers, numbering about 400, moved out of their settlement because they feared the soldiers might return.

"The villagers are scared because the Indonesian troops might mistake some of them for those they are looking for. With no PNG security forces on the ground there, they are very afraid," he said in Tok Pisin.

The border people there have cultural links with people in Indonesian-ruled West Papua, many through intermarriage.

Many of the "refugees" who have crossed into PNG following the crackdown by the Indonesian military forces have been taken in by the villagers in Wutung and other nearby villagers.

An official from the office of Sandaun Governor Robert Sakias said the governor will fly to Vanimo to attend to the escalating problem at the border.

The official, Gabriel Dekwalen, said the governor, too, has received reports of West Papuans crossing the border into PNG, and of the incursions by Indonesian troops in pursuit of separatist elements.

He said one reason only very sketchy information on the incident is coming out of the province is because of the shutdown of Radio West Sepik.

He said the governor is seeking funds to pay the outstanding electricity bill of K 32,000, to get the station up and running again.

The national government earlier promised to move PNG Defense Force (PNGDF) troops to the border, but that does not seem to have taken place.

The PNGDF maintains troops at garrison strength at Vanimo.

In Limbo

More than 300 West Papuan border crossers, mainly women and children, are in limbo at the border, the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier reported.

Bishop Bonaventu said many of the border crossers are falling ill.

They are West Papuans who fled clashes between Indonesian soldiers and West Papua freedom fighters and are either in neutral territory between the Papua New Guinea and Indonesian borders or just inside Papua New Guinea territory.

Bishop Bonaventu said the PNG government considered the people border crossers and not refugees at the moment. The government could is suspicious that the crossers could be used by the OPM (Free Papua Movement) as a shield to fight Indonesian forces.

"I understand the position of the government. The PNG government has been very good in looking after border crossers and refugees," he said. "It has a good record of that."

He said the Catholic Church had been looking after the crossers since last Tuesday but had since been told not to do anything for them by the government. He said various groups had since offered to help the border crossers through the Catholic Church, which was willing and ready to help.

Provincial Affairs Secretary Leo Meninga was unavailable yesterday to clarify the government’s position. His director of border and special projects Chris Kati did not return calls.

Meantime, the West Papua community has been refused permission to march to the Indonesian Embassy in Port Moresby because of fears other people will take advantage of the situation and cause problems in the city, police said.

Police Commissioner John Wakon said he refused to grant the permission for security reasons.

National Capital District/Central police commander Tom Kulunga said police have been stationed around the embassy since Friday.

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

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

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

 

PAPUA NEW GUINEAN REPORTED SHOT DEAD IN WEST PAPUA

By Ian Kakarere

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (December 13, 2000 - The Independent/PINA Nius Online/Abridged)---A Western province man was reportedly shot dead by Indonesian police during rioting in Merauke in West Papua.

A senior government source in Kiunga said the man, from Boset village in the Lake Murray area of Western province, was a member of the Operasi Papua Movement (OPM), the group seeking independence for West Papua.

The official said that it was not unusual for some individuals from the border villages to join the OPM.

December 1 was the 39th anniversary of the declaration of West Papua as an independent nation, but this was not recognized by the United Nations and the major world powers in 1961.

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

 

POLICE CHIEF BANS SEPARATIST GROUP IN WEST PAPUA

JAYAPURA, Irian Jaya, Indonesia (Dec. 13, 2000 – Radio Australia)---The police chief of West Papua has banned the National Liberation Force, an armed civilian separatist group operating in the remote jungles of the Indonesian province.

The ban was contained in a circular issued by police chief Brigadier General Sylvanus Wenas.

The circular said the organization "clearly was formed to provide resistance against the lawful government with the aim of seceding from the sovereign territory of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia."

It said that the ban was imposed after taking into consideration the security developments in West Papua since December 1.

Jakarta has already long outlawed the Free Papua Organization, which has been waging a guerrilla war against Indonesia for more than 30 years.

In the capital of Jayapura alone, 155 independence supporters and students have been arrested in the past fortnight, of whom 12 are still being held.

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

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