ONDE RELEASES LAST THREE HOSTAGES IN WEST PAPUA

JAYAPURA, Irian Jaya (February 8, 2001 – Jakarta Post/Kabar-Irian/PINA Nius Online)---Willem Onde, a Free Papua Movement (OPM) group leader, freed the last two Koreans and an Indonesian hostage held in Indonesian-ruled West Papua, the Jakarta Post reported.

Chung Mulia Wijaya, vice president of the PT Korindo logging and plywood company, told The Jakarta Post: "Three PT Korindo Merauke employees, including two Korean nationals, were released this afternoon at about 2:45 p.m. local time after being held hostage since January 16."

Chung said the three released hostages "were in good condition and only lost a few kilograms.

"Thank God the two Koreans are surveyors who have been living in Indonesia for 20 years ... so they are used to mosquito bites and raw food," he said.

The kidnappers, who are from a faction of OPM, seized 16 employees of the South Korean-owned plywood firm based in Asiki district, some 360 kilometers (216 miles) from Merauke.

Thirteen of the hostages were released on January 28 following negotiations with the rebels at their camp in Asiki district.

The rebels demanded US$ 1 million compensation for damage from logging, a halt to logging in the area and the withdrawal of mobile force police from the timber-cutting area.

Chung told the Jakarta Post: "I met with Onde during the previous negotiations. Onde released the hostages on the grounds that President Abdurrahman Wahid agreed to meet with him in Jakarta. Basically he (Onde) was only trying to channel his aspirations for Papua freedom and it had nothing to do with Korindo."

Merauke Regent Johanes Gluba Gebse was in Jakarta on Wednesday reportedly to confirm the planned meeting between the President and Onde. Presidential spokesman Wimar Witoelar said earlier that the President had agreed to meet with Onde.

Both Chung and Korindo director Eugenius Simon Lestuny said no ransom had been paid.

"Logging is continuing as usual and as for the withdrawal of troops, that is up to the government," Lestuny told the Jakarta Post.

The three hostages left Onde's camp in the Asiki district near Digul River with negotiators, who included Merauke Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Yohanis Agus Mulyono, the chief of the Army's Special Force (Kopassus) in Tribuana, Lt. Col. Nus Rasia, and two Koreans officials from PT Korindo.

"We thank Mgr. J. Duivenvoorde, Rev. Kees de Roy, (local residents) Marius Marip, Vitalis and Linus, and Nor Bertha (Onde's sister), who played wonderful roles as negotiators, along with the government, the security forces and all related parties that have helped us in peacefully securing the release of the hostages," Kim Dong Hwan, the vice chairman of PT Korindo, said in a statement.

The company, however, urged the government to be more sensitive in understanding the situation in the regions.

PT Korindo has been operating in Indonesia for 30 years. The company has 4,000 employees in Irian Jaya (West Papua).

Resource-rich West Papua, which Indonesia calls Irian Jaya, is located on the western half of New Guinea island. The Free Papua Movement has been fighting for independence since Indonesia occupied the former Dutch colony in 1963.

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

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment