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The Papua Council Presidium has called for an immediate stern international action to end Indonesia's human rights abuses in West Papua and help prepare the Indonesian-ruled province for a peaceful transition to independence.

Continuing neglect will only result in increased physical confrontations, human misery and regional instability, a Council statement warns.

In particular, the Council says it is deeply disturbed about the blatant arrests and torture of known pro-independence Papuans often resulting in their deaths whilst in police or military custody.

"Given the situation in West Papua and the way Indonesia's own existence is threatened by the political and economic crisis now plaguing the country, the independence option for West Papua's indigenous Melanesians inhabitants can no longer be brushed aside, least of all by our close neighbors."

The Papua Council is the supreme indigenous pro-independence political organization spearheading the independence movement in the Indonesian province of West Papua, formerly called Irian Jaya.

The latest Council statement containing the plea for stronger international action is addressed to member countries of the Pacific Islands Forum and the United Nations in particular and was released today through its Vanuatu-based International Relations Division.

The move has been prompted by a reported killing of a man by the Indonesian security forces in Jayapura and the torture of further thirteen whilst they are being held in police custody. The incidents occurred following a major pro-independence demonstration in the provincial capital last week rejecting a special autonomy proposal sponsored by the Indonesian government.

The Council says it is also alarmed by the frequent sightings of mysterious human corpses in outlying areas known for their strong anti-Indonesian stand and unwavering support for independence.

The head of the Papua Council Presidium, Chairman Theys Hiyo Eluay, who was discharged from hospital in Jakarta and returned to West Papua at the weekend after a personal audience with President Abdurrachman Wahid, will convene an unscheduled presidium meeting this afternoon. The Presidium will deliberate on the content of Mr. Eluay's discussions with the President, as well as touching on a number of important issues, including the recent political trends in West Papua and Indonesia generally.

"Let us make one thing clear. No amount of persuasion will convince us into settling for the special autonomous status that the Jakarta regime is waving before us. Any political arrangement that proposes to retain our homeland as an integral part of the Indonesian republic is totally unacceptable."

"In plain language, let's say enough is enough. As a reasonable community of tribal peoples, we are conscious of our collective rights and identity and we are determined, more so than ever before, to establish a viable nation of our own," the Council's Port Vila statement said.

The Papua Council Presidium says it is hopeful that openly sympathetic nations such as Vanuatu, New Zealand and Nauru will take the lead in forging a stronger regional initiative on West Papua both at the upcoming Pacific Island Forum and the United Nations General Assembly later this year.

Franzalbert Joku International Relations Moderator & Member of Presidium

Andy Ayamiseba Resident Representative Port Vila, Vanuatu

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

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