WEST PAPUA SECESSIONIST LEADER WENDA CAPTURED IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (January 25, 2001 – AFP/Kabar-Irian)---The leader of Irian Jaya's guerrilla army waging an independence war against Indonesian rule is under arrest in Papua New Guinea for entering the country illegally, officials said.

The Free Papua Movement or Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) leader, Mathias Wenda, was one of 13 rebels arrested by police on Tuesday for illegally entering neighboring Papua New Guinea.

Wenda and his deputy, George Kogoiya, were also charged with raising an illegal army to wage war against Indonesian rule over Irian Jaya, also known as West Papua, the officials said.

Eleven OPM fighters have already pleaded guilty in the Vanimo District Court here, and were sentenced Wednesday to six months jail with hard labor, but their leaders are yet to face trial.

West Sepik Provincial Police Commander Eugene Manguva said that in the meantime, all 13 guerrillas would be moved away from Papua New Guinea's porous border with Indonesia's easternmost province.

Manguva said no weapons had been seized during a police raid on rebel camps along the border.

The raids follow renewed anti-Indonesian sentiment among nationalists in Irian Jaya since last October.

Violence erupted after December 2, when OPM sympathizers raised their pro-independence Morning Star flag in the provincial capital, Jayapura, and elsewhere in the thickly jungled former Dutch colonial possession.

Under pressure from both Jakarta and Canberra, Papua New Guinea recognizes Irian Jaya as part of Indonesia, despite its sympathy for the province's fellow Melanesians.

Manguva said police would be making more arrests and warned those seeking refuge to be wary.

"Mathias Wenda and George Kogoiya were arrested for setting up a military establishment and for the illegal training of an army," he told Port Moresby's Post-Courier newspaper.

"Yes, I am expecting to make more arrests because plenty of them have crossed the border and are not only living in Vanimo but also along the border in places like Green River and Yapsei.

"The problem right now is that there is no road link to these places and the only means of transportation there is by helicopter."

Papuan police and military officials are now planning a sweep of the border area.

Wenda and his supporters have been living undisturbed near Krisa since 1997.

Reporters from the Post-Courier newspaper visited him and his group just before the New Year, when he spoke passionately about the "West Papuan" cause.

Wenda said then that rebel activities would intensify this year and continue until Indonesia relinquished its claim to the region, which proclaimed independence on December 1, 1961 after the departure of the Dutch.

The so-called Act of Free Choice in 1969, under which the resource rich province was incorporated into Indonesia, is describe by the independence movement as a sham orchestrated by Jakarta.

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

 

13 WEST PAPUA REBELS ARRESTED IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (January 25, 2001 – Radio Australia)---A group of West Papua rebels has reportedly been arrested by police outside of the Papua New Guinea border town of Vanimo.

The Pacific News Agency reported that 13 rebels, including their leader, Mathias Wenda, were arrested in a raid early Tuesday.

The agency reports that other members of the faction fled into the bush from their camp at Krisa.

It is s believed the group had been living at the camp for some time before their arrest.

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

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