WEST PAPUAN FREEDOM FIGHTERS WARN OF NEW ATTACK

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (January 2, 2000 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---The West Papuan freedom fighters have warned that they will launch a full-scale military attack against Indonesia in the new year in their continued struggle for independence.

The OPM (Free Papua Movement) supreme commander, Mathias Wenda, told the Post-Courier in the jungles of West Sepik that his people had come too far and there was no turning back.

Speaking through an interpreter, Epius Jikwa, Mr. Wenda, from Wamena in the Irian Jaya (West Papua) highlands, said his men were instructed to refrain from fighting during the Christmas and New Year period. But they will now arm themselves again and launch fresh offensives.

He said: "My people want full independence and as the commander of my people, I want full independence too. We feel this is the time to fight Indonesia for independence.

"This is my program for the New Year and what I have told you (Post-Courier) is not my own thoughts, rather it is the wish of my people."

Mr. Wenda said even if it meant "fighting to the last men," they were adamant of achieving the results of a struggle started about 30 years ago.

His hair turning gray and looking a bit frail, the barefooted Wenda sat under a small mango tree at his hideout wearing a pair of stained office trousers folded just below the knee, an old blue shirt and a cap, when the Post-Courier visited.

Instead of fighting on the frontline, he issues orders for the younger men to fight the Indonesians.

Mr. Wenda said his time to leave this world would soon arrive, but for now he was determined to see that the stage was set for the young generation of West Papuans to run their own country.

"God gave us this land (West Papua), not for Indonesians or others but for us to live and benefit from the land. But people from outside are coming in and reaping the benefits. I don’t like that," he said. "Please, tell the world that my people are being deprived, starved and are dying in their own land."

He said West Papua was rich in natural resources like gold, diamond and timber, which the Indonesians were abusing. That was the main reason why they did not want to part with West Papua.

Mr. Wenda said it was also easy for Indonesians to get jobs in West Papua or Jakarta, but not his own people.

"My country is a rich country but my people still live like primitives, they don’t wear shirts, they are still wearing traditional clothes," he said.

He said it was sad that even though Papua New Guineans and West Papuans had the same skin color and features, his people were still being shunned by their Melanesian neighbors.

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 

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