WEST PAPUANS QUESTIONED BY PAPUA NEW GUINEA OFFICERS

admin's picture

By Firmin Nanol

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (April 22, 2001 – NAU-FM/Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Papua New Guinea Border Liaison Officers and police are questioning 26 West Papuan border crossers who came into Vanimo over the Easter weekend.

NAU-FM was told that police believe that the West Papuans could not have come by themselves. They believe that some Papua New Guinea citizens may have been involved in organizing boats for them to cross the border.

Police said in the past West Papuans crossed the border and said Indonesian soldiers were after their lives, but in actual fact they had committed crimes in West Papua and wanted to escape.

Earlier, the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier reported authorities are investigating whether the new border crossers, who joined an earlier 420 at a camp near Vanimo, carried any weapons across.

"It is a concern that this new group came over without anyone knowing. We were only alerted of their arrival when they had reached the camp," a Provincial Affairs official in Vanimo told the Post-Courier.

"We found out later that they had arrived on motorized canoes in the guise of darkness."

West Papuans have been crossing the border into Papua New Guinea from the Indonesian-controlled province following clashes between Indonesian forces and pro-independence West Papuans.

The official said the 26 were part of a group of Wamena villagers who clashed with Indonesian police last October during an independence flag raising.

"This is why we are concerned. They are actually the ones who fought with the police in Indonesia. They have been hiding since that clash, and have made their way across to PNG," he said.

The Vanimo Diocese of the Catholic Church has taken in the additional crossers at the camp on the outskirts of town, supplying them with tents, rations and an additional water tank.

A diocesan spokesman said the church was continuing its humanitarian service to the border crossers.

He also confirmed that the new crossers were part of the group that clashed with Indonesian police earlier, and that this was the reason they gave for their crossing over.

He said at least three of them still had pellets lodged in their bodies and the church would arrange for a doctor to operate and remove them.

Others, the spokesman said, were carrying scars on parts of their bodies.

West Papuans have been campaigning for independence since Indonesia occupied the former Dutch colony in 1963 and then claimed it after a controversial "referendum." The West Papuans say the referendum was a sham with only a small group of people taking part under intimidation.

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

The Indonesian forces have been accused of human rights abuses.

The Indonesian Government also encouraged the mass migration of mainly Muslim Asians from Indonesia's heavily populated main islands to resource-rich Irian Jaya. There people are mainly Melanesian and Christian.

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

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment