FIVE DEAD IN IRIAN JAYA SEPARATIST FLAG CLASH

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JAKARTA, Irian Jaya (December 20, 2000 – AFP-Kabar-Irian)---Soldiers in Indonesia's eastern province of Irian Jaya shot and killed four highland tribes people for raising the separatist Morning Star flag last week, a human rights monitor said Wednesday.

Enraged tribesmen then attacked the soldiers with bows and arrows, killing one and wounding two, John Rumbiak of the Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy (ELSHAM) told AFP.

The clash erupted on Friday in the town of Tiom, some 90 kilometers (54 miles) southwest of Wamena in the Jayawijaya mountain range that runs through the center of eastern Irian Jaya.

The mineral and timber-rich province, lying on the western half of New Guinea Island and known locally as West Papua, has been the scene of sporadic separatist-related violence for three decades.

"Sources at the Baptist Church in Tiom told us that the local people were singing, dancing and going wild over the flag they'd just raised when soldiers arrived and shot them, without warning," Rumbiak said.

"Church people said the locals were angry, because they weren't warned," he said.

Rumbiak said local Dani tribespeople had hoisted the flag in Tiom the day before.

After negotiations with soldiers they pulled it down, but on Friday hoisted it in another location.

The soldiers wounded another two people in addition to the four they shot dead, Rumbiak said.

On Saturday and Sunday security forces beefed up troop numbers in Tiom, sending five truckloads of police and soldiers and two military helicopters to the area.

Police in Irian Jaya were not immediately available for comment about the incident.

An extra 1,300 elite troops, including an airborne parachute unit, have been in Indonesia's easternmost province since last month as part of an increased military presence deployed prior to December 1 celebrations of an unrecognized declaration of independence.

Friday's incident was the fourth known clash between police and independence supporters since a new ban on the Morning Star was imposed at sundown on December 1.

Police shot dead two people in the western coast town of Fak Fak on December 1. Police shot another six people in the southern border town of Merauke on December 2.

Separatist guerillas killed two police and a security guard on December 7 in Jayapura.

Police wounded an independence activist on December 12 during a raid in Sentani near Jayapura.

Long-simmering separatist sentiments have peaked this year, following a pledge last year by President Adurrahman Wahid to take a more lenient approach.

On a visit to Irian Jaya, Wahid declared that the Morning Star could fly. He also suggested the province's name could be changed to West Papua.

The rest of Wahid's government has taken a hard-line approach, overriding his flag policy, bolstering the military presence, locking up independence leaders with whom Wahid had opened a dialogue, and refusing his request to release them.

Native Papuans, Melanesian in race, declared their independence on December 1, 1961 as former Dutch colonizers departed.

Jakarta's sovereignty was ratified by a controversial UN ballot in 1969.

 

SOLDIER MOBBED TO DEATH IN IRIAN JAYA

JAKARTA, Irian Jaya (December 21, 2000 – Jakarta Post)---A soldier was mobbed to death in the remote town of Tiom, some 80 kilometers (48 miles) south of Wamena, following a dispute between officers and locals over the lowering of the Morning Star separatist flag, an official said on Wednesday.

"The incident took place four days ago (Friday) in Tiom. Pvt. Saharuddin was mobbed to death by locals, allegedly from the Dani tribe, after he and three other soldiers patrolling the area spotted a Morning Star flag flying," the chief of Irian Jaya Police Operation and Control Sr. Supt. Kusnadi told The Jakarta Post from Jayapura.

"The soldiers asked the locals to lower the flag but after nobody responded for some time, the soldiers tore it down. That was when the mob attacked the soldiers," Kusnadi said.

The body of Pvt. Saharuddin was sent home to Manado, North Sulawesi, the officer said.

"The other three soldiers managed to escape the tribesmen, who were brandishing arrows, machetes and other sharp weapons," Kusnadi said. "They suffered minor injuries."

John Rumbiak of the Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy (ELSHAM), however, claimed that the soldiers had shot four locals dead.

"Sources at the Baptist Church in Tiom told us that the locals were singing, dancing and going wild over the flag they'd just raised when soldiers arrived and shot them without warning," John told AFP.

John said local Dani tribespeople had hoisted the flag in Tiom the day before. After negotiations with soldiers they lowered it, but on Friday the locals hoisted the flag at another location.

Officer Kusnadi said that security forces over the weekend beefed up the number of troops in Tiom. Five truckloads of police and soldiers and two military helicopters were sent to the area.

"The government policy is clear. No separatist movement is allowed. We try to be persuasive but we also have to stay alert as the separatist movement is now changing from the previous pro-independence task force Satgas Papua to a liberation front army," Kusnadi said.

Police and military sources stated that there were about 200 members of the army liberation front in Irian Jaya.

The route to Tiom is difficult as many of its connecting roads have been either blown away or damaged by the separatists, Kusnadi said.

The incident has brought the death toll of continuous violence in Irian Jaya to at least 50 this year.

In Wamena alone, at least 35 were killed and 45 others injured. Most of the victims were migrant settlers.

Thousands of pro-independence Papuan militias ran amok on October 6, following the lowering of Morning Star flags by the police.

Wamena, located about 290 kilometers (174 miles) southwest of the provincial capital of Jayapura, is also known as the base of pro-independence militia.

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

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