INDONESIANS ESTABLISH NAVY STATION ON PAPUA NEW GUINEA BORDER

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (March 25, 2001 – Antara/Kabar-Irian/PINA Nius Online)---The Indonesian Navy has set up a station on the border with Papua New Guinea, the Antara news agency reported.

Brigadier General Solichin, commander of the Indonesian Navy's base in Jayapura, said for the time being the station would not be able to serve as a base for patrol boats, but the Navy was planning to complete the station by building a pier in the near future.

After the pier is built, patrol boats will be able to operate from the station and surveillance of the border waters could be more easily done, he said.

Papua New Guinea and Indonesia (West Papua) share a common border. The Indonesians call West Papua their province of Irian Jaya.

Hundreds of West Papuan refugees have recently crossed into Papua New Guinea after clashes following the Indonesian police arrest of Melanesian West Papuan pro-independence leaders.

Human rights activists say thousands of people have died in years of fighting between Indonesian security forces and West Papuans seeking independence.

West Papuans have been campaigning for independence since Indonesia occupied the former Dutch colony in 1963.

Solichin was quoted by Antara as saying that one of the purposes of the patrols is to foil attempts to smuggle illegal goods into Jayapura, the province's capital.

Solichin told Antara his command was recently informed that a number of Papua New Guinea nationals had been caught bringing in marijuana into Jayapura.

So far, the naval patrol units in the border waters have not encountered such smugglers. "But hopefully, with the intensification of our patrols, smugglers of any kind of goods will not be able to use the border waters in their trade," Solichin said.

Meanwhile, the Jakarta Post newspaper reported Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights have protested the intervention of Irian Jaya provincial offices and police in its inquiry into the Abepura incident.

The commission said such interference was "an obstruction to justice," the

Jakarta Post reported.

Head of the commission's inquiry team, Albert Hasibuan, said the police had summoned and questioned all the witnesses and victims of the raid on the police station which occurred on December 7 at Abepura district.

Three people were killed in the raid and three students later died in Indonesian police actions.

Hasibuan said witnesses and victims were scared and intimidated, since the police often visited their residences.

"We demand the National Police chief instruct the Irian Jaya police chief to stop the intimidation," he told the press.

The inquiry is slated to be completed in the middle of April and will be filed as the first case to be tried by a rights tribunal in the country, the Jakarta Post reported.

Hasibuan also questioned the authority of the provincial office of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, which gave a legal opinion on the human rights aspects of the inquiry. It advised the Irian Jaya police deputy chief not to fulfill the commission's summons, since the office regarded the Abepura incident as an ordinary crime.

Just before dawn on December 7, a mob attacked Abepura police station. Three people, including two policemen, were killed during the assault.

According to the police, the mob was believed to be made up of Wamena residents who had come down from the mountainous areas of Baliem valley in central West Papua.

Hasibuan assumed that the attack was connected with the police having enforced the lowering of the Morning Star, Papua's separatist flag, on December 1.

Hasibuan said that in response to the attack, the police "arbitrarily" raided three students' dormitories in Jayapura. The raid claimed the lives of three students while about 100 people, mostly students, were detained.

"From the police officers' testimonies, it was disclosed that the students had been badly beaten... One of the deceased, Elkius Suhiad, a high school student, was shot in the head," Hasibuan was quoted by the Jakarta Post as saying.

On the next day the police released those who were detained because they were not involved with the attack, the Jakarta Post said.

"The police had unjustifiably detained innocent people and had violated their human rights," Hasibuan added.

The Jakarta Post said the inquiry team questioned 60 witnesses and victims and 14 police officers, including former Irian Jaya police chief Brig. Gen. S.Y. Wenas.

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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