WEST PAPUAN WHO DIED BEATEN BY INDONESIAN POLICE BEATING, REPORT SAYS

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (April 1, 2001 - Kabar-Irian/PINA Nius Online)---A West Papuan who died during last week's protests in Jayapura was beaten by Indonesian police, the international human rights group Amnesty International says.

Philipus Murib died after a clash between West Papuans, including student activists, and the Indonesian security forces. Early news reports had said only he had died after being "hit."

But Amnesty International said an eyewitness reported that a police officer beat Murib upon arrest. He died from internal bleeding later the same day, Amnesty International said.

Amnesty International said 13 other West Papuans are being detained at a police center in Jayapura, and are at grave risk of being tortured or ill treated.

In December, around 35 students were severely beaten by the police while in custody at the same police center in the territory's capital. Two students died as a result of the beatings, Amnesty International said.

They had been detained following a police raid on student hostels in Jayapura in apparent retaliation for the killing of two police officers and a security guard by pro-independence supporters. None of those arrested are thought to have been involved in that attack, Amnesty International said.

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

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

The latest clash occurred outside Cenderawasih University Stadium in Jayapura. A government seminar was being held on a proposed "special autonomy" package for Indonesian-ruled West Papua, which is called the province of Irian Jaya by Indonesia.

Amnesty International says tension remains high in West Papua after recent moves by the Indonesian authorities to push ahead with the introduction of "special autonomy" for the region. At the same time the authorities are clamping down on pro-independence sentiment.

On 10 March, five leading political activists in the town of Wamena were jailed after being found guilty of "conspiring to commit separatism." Amnesty International considers them to be prisoners of conscience and has called for their immediate and unconditional release.

Meanwhile, in Jakarta, two outspoken legislators from West Papua called on Indonesia's House of Representatives to drop the bill on special autonomy for the troubled territory.

They said the bill failed to fully accommodate the people's aspirations, according to a Jakarta Post report.

Alex Litay, of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, and Simon Maori of the Golkar Party said that all the legislators from territory would resist if the House went ahead with its plan to debate the controversial bill.

"We will have to conduct a campaign of protest until the bill is dropped from the House's agenda," Litay said at the House's plenary session, the Jakarta Post reported.

Litay said: "The issue of Irian Jaya will never be solved if the government forcibly inserts its idea into the bill and ignores the province's political aspirations."

The bill on special autonomy for Irian Jaya was recently submitted to the House but it has yet to be disseminated among the legislators, the Jakarta Post said.

Maori, who, along with Litay, returned from the provincial capital of Jayapura on Thursday, said the House should adopt the new bill being jointly prepared by the Irian Jaya provincial administration and legislative council.

The Jakarta Post reported him as saying: "Let the Irianese people channel their aspirations for the province through this bill ... the central government should not teach them what they want and need. It is of the utmost importance that the province remains within the unitary state of Indonesia."

It said Maori was applauded by other legislators.

Maori also said the government should be flexible in putting into effect the decree that sets May 1 as the deadline for the implementation of special autonomy in the province and in another troubled area, Aceh.

"It seems impossible for the government to meet the deadline because the two bills have yet to be debated. It's better to lay the groundwork properly rather than face numerous problems following their passage," he said.

House Speaker Akbar Tandjung, who presided over the plenary session, said that it was impossible for the House to drop the bill. But the Jakarta Post said he said the draft being prepared by the Irian Jaya administration could be taken as the main point of reference in discussing the government's bill.

"Regarding the May 1 deadline, the House should discuss it with the government so that the implementation of special autonomy in the two provinces (Aceh and Irian Jaya) will not give rise to new problems," he said.

Meanwhile, Antara news agency said the Irian Jaya provincial prosecutors' office has submitted the dossiers of the five leaders of the West Papuan pro-independence movement to court for further processing.

Head of the local prosecutors office Y.M. Yahya confirmed the submission of the dossiers of the five leaders of the Papuan People's Presidium Council (PDP).

The five were identified as chairman Theys Hiyo Eluay, moderator Rev. Herman Awom, the group secretary-general Thaha Alhamid, and members Don A.L. Flassy and John Mambor.

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

The five were charged for violating Criminal Code Articles No. 106, 107, and 110 on subversive activities.

The news agency quoted from reliable sources at the local court that hearings would start early this month.

They had been detained since November 27 last year, several days before the commemoration of their independence declaration.

One of the suspects, Theys, is still being treated at the Christian Cikini Hospital in Jakarta but his health was reported as improving, Antara said.

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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