WEST PAPUA HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST RELEASED ON BAIL

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (December 18, 2000 – Indonesian Observer/Kabar-Irian)---Police have released a human rights activist who was arrested in troubled Irian Jaya province for allegedly discrediting police by accusing them of torturing and murdering three students.

Johannes Bonai, director of the Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy (ELSHAM), was freed on Saturday on bail after being detained for one day, Antara reported yesterday.

Bonai, accompanied by his defense lawyers -- Alberth Rumbekwan, Steve Waramory, Demianus Wakman and Selvi Sanggenafa -- left his cell at Jayapura provincial police headquarters at 2:45 a.m. local time.

The activist had been charged with insulting state officials after he publicly accused police of murdering three students.

On Thursday, Bonai said police illegally arrested about 100 students and tortured dozens of them. He claimed two of them died as a result of torture. One student was shot dead before being arrested, he said.

The detention of the students followed a raid by a group of separatist tribesmen on a marketplace and a police station on the outskirts of Jayapura on December 7, killing two policemen and a security guard and setting fire to several shops.

Enraged police immediately swooped on several nearby dormitories, home to hundreds of students from the central highlands, beating occupants with rifle butts.

Swiss journalist goes home

Also Saturday, a Swiss journalist headed home after a 10-day ordeal in a police cell in Jayapura, where he faced the threat of a five-year jail term for working while on a tourist visa.

Oswald Iten (50), a reporter for the Zurich-based Neue Zuericher Zeitung, was relaxing at the Swiss Embassy in Jakarta on Saturday afternoon, accompanied by immigration officers who would escort him to his flight to Zurich.

"He is quite well and happy to be out, the newspaper’s Asia editor Beat Wieser, told AFP.

Wieser said Iten, who flew into Jakarta from Irian Jaya under police escort earlier on Saturday, was in good health, and had "no more problems."

No restrictions had been placed on him by Indonesian authorities, who had said they would be happy to see him back, but with a journalist’s visa.

"So you can’t really call this a deportation...It is one of the amazing things that can happen in this country, Wieser added.

Days earlier Iten had been in a police lockup in Jayapura, where he shared a toiletless, mosquito-ridden cell with 28 other men. Police there told him he was facing trial and a five-year jail term.

Arrested on December 2 for taking photographs and notes during anniversary celebrations by pro-independence Papuan separatists, he was put in the same jail as five members of the separatist movement, including their leader Theys Eluay.

Iten was released on Wednesday. The separatists, arrested a week before Iten, have been charged by police with subversion for advocating the province’s secession from Indonesia.

An American national was also deported from Irian Jaya two months ago after he was seen taking photographs in the town of Wamena in the aftermath of a riot which left up to 30 people dead.

Irian Jaya has seen a series of outbreaks of violence linked to a rising pro-independence campaign there in the past weeks in which at least 18 people have died.

Pro-independence sentiments have been on the rise in the province, especially since East Timor was allowed to separate from Indonesia after a UN-held ballot there in August 1999.

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

 

PNG CLAIMED "NOT OBLIGED" TO GRANT WEST PAPUANS REFUGEE STATUS

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (December 19, 2000 - The National/ Post-Courier/ Radio Australia/PINA Nius Online)---The Papua New Guinea government has no obligation at this stage to grant "refugee status" for 240 border crossers from West Papua, a senior Provincial Affairs source told The National newspaper.

The members of the Wamena tribe crossed the border at Wutung last week following an increasing number of clashes between Indonesian forces and pro-independence Papuans.

For the border crossers to be considered "refugees," they must first "request" assistance from the Papua New Guinea government and show proof of persecution by Indonesian authorities, the source said.

"Unless this is done, the government of PNG has no obligation at this stage to assist. They are Indonesian citizens and must return (to their home villages on the Indonesian side of the border).

"The Geneva Convention is clear. If there is no proof of persecution, Waigani will be reluctant to act," said the source, on condition of anonymity.

The source also denied claims by the Roman Catholic bishop of Vanimo, Caesar Bonovento, that the government had instructed the church against providing humanitarian aid to those border crossers.

The Provincial Affairs Department said they had an understanding with the Catholic Church in Vanimo. This was "to assist the government to provide emergency relief assistance in terms of food rations, health care, shelter and household items to refugees that might cross into Wasengia and Kamberatoro."

Government reports from Vanimo have indicated that it was the Wutung people and nearby villages that were forcefully diverting food and relief supplies from the Catholic diocese in Vanimo. They claimed that the clashes along the border have forced them away from their food gardens and gaming areas.

The Papua New Guinea Post-Courier reported more than 300 West Papua people have been moved from the border to Vanimo -- and are being cared for by the Catholic Church.

The group, mostly women and children, were in good physical condition when they arrived at their temporary camp at Wara Konkon Catholic Community School. But they were frightened that they would be sent back to Indonesia.

Bishop Bonaventu said that they had heard rumors that the Papua New Guinea government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees could make a decision on the fate of the "refugees" by Wednesday.

"It is clear that their status has not been resolved yet and they are still here as border crossers," he said.

"In my opinion they are genuine refugees and as such they are in need of everything . . . Hopefully the talks between the Government and the United Nations will be useful for these people."

He said there were also rumors that more refugees from across the border were arriving at Wutung, along the coast and also at Green River. He said the 300 people were from settlements around Jayapura.

Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta last week reaffirmed the government’s stand on West Papua, saying it remained an integral part of Indonesia.

Sir Mekere said the government would make sure that Papua New Guinea’s side of the border was not used as a "staging point to mount attacks on Indonesian troops."

"We are in constant touch with the Indonesian Ambassador here and both sides agreed that we will ensure that the overflow, the outflow, into our side is controlled," he said.

"It stays on that side of the border but if it came our way, we would make sure that we took appropriate action to ensure that we are not forced to get more involved, but at this stage it seems to be under control."

Sir Mekere said Papua New Guinea would not encourage West Papuans to come across the border but the border was very long and unmanned in most places.

He also said the government would provide necessary funding to enable some Papua New Guinea soldiers to be stationed on the border.

Meanwhile, Radio Australia reported Indonesian police say they will question a second human rights worker who has accused police of killing three people in detention in West Papua earlier this month.

Police chief Brigadier General Sylvanus Wenas said police will summons John Rumbiak, program supervisor at the Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy, for questioning.

The institute has accused Jayapura police of summary executions and torture, after publicizing several eyewitness accounts of the killing of three students and the torture of many more by police.

The Indonesian police have returned cash and valuables taken from students during raids in the wake of a separatist attack, Radio Australia said.

The return of the goods follows a report released by the Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy, which outlined police treatment of the students.

Hard-line separatists have stepped up attacks against Indonesian security forces and migrant settlers from other parts of Indonesia following the anniversaries of two unsuccessful independence declarations.

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).

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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