INDONESIANS WANT PAPUA NEW GUINEA TO HELP DISARM WEST PAPUANS

JAKARTA, Indonesia (January 6, 2000 - Kabar-Irian/PINA Nius Online)---Indonesian officials in Irian Jaya (West Papua) plan to try to get Papua New Guinea to disarm pro-independence rebels operating from across the border in Papua New Guinea.

Irian Jaya (West Papua) Police Chief Inspector General F. Soemardi was quoted by the Antara news agency as saying the government may ask Papua New Guinea authorities to sweep their side of the border and arrest rebels found with firearms.

He said several West Papua separatists have stolen weapons from the Indonesian police and military, and then fled across the border into Papua New Guinea.

In a raid on December 7, separatists killed three police from Abepura and seized rifles from them, he was quoted as saying by Antara.

"Of course we can't pursue them by entering the foreign country because such action could be regarded as a form of invasion, which would be a violation of international law," Antara reported him as saying.

Soemardi said Indonesia will probably advise Papua New Guinea police to conduct more regular patrols along the north-south border of the two countries.

He said murdering Indonesian military and police officials and stealing their weapons are quite serious crimes, but even worse is the crime of attempting to make Irian Jaya (West Papua) secede from Indonesia.

Reports from Papua New Guinea say Indonesian forces regularly cross the border in remote areas in search of West Papuan rebels. More than 300 West Papuans are at the provincial center of Vanimo after fleeing increasing violence in West Papua following Indonesian arrests of West Papuan leaders.

Human rights activists say thousands of people have died in years of fighting between Indonesian security forces and West Papuans seeking independence. Many of the province's 2 million people still live a traditional life in the mountainous interior.

The province was officially taken over by the Indonesians following a controversial referendum after the departure in 1962 of the Dutch who had ruled the territory. The West Papuans call the referendum a sham and said only a small and intimidated number of people were allowed to take part.

Profits from West Papua's vast natural resources mostly go to American companies operating in the province and the government in Jakarta. The human rights activists say the Melanesian West Papuans are in danger of being outnumbered by Asians migrants from Java and other densely populated Indonesian islands.

Antara also reported trade between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea has been sluggish due to the economic crisis and the unstable political situation in the country.

This is evident in the decrease in activities between businesses of Irian Jaya (West Papua) and Papua New Guinea last December, provincial trade and industry office head for international trade, Decky Rumbiak, told reporters.

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

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

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