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JAYAPURA, Irian Jaya (June 27, 2001 - The Jakarta Post/Joyo Indonesian News/TAPOL)---An Irianese separatist group that has taken hostage two Belgian filmmakers is demanding that President Abdurrahman Wahid bring the Irian Jaya issues before an international forum, a church official said on Tuesday.

Priest Theo van den Broek said the demand was made by an Irianese separatist group in a letter signed by the commander of the Papuan Liberation Army (TPNP), Kelly Kwalik.

The demand surprised Van den Broek because earlier the abductors only demanded to meet with church missionaries to negotiate the conditions for the hostages’ release.

Van den Broek and Rev. Benny Giay have been appointed by the Irian Jaya Bishop of Irian Jaya to establish communication with the kidnappers.

"I thought the letter was only meant for the mediators (church officials) but it is stated that it is to be passed on to the President," Van den Broek said.

Kelly led the 1996 abduction of several researchers, among them a few foreigners. One of the abducted scientists was killed during a military operation to release the hostages in remote Mapenduma, Wamena.

Broek said he would go to Illaga in Puncak Jaya where the two Belgians -- Johan Elia Theo van Dem Eynde, 47, and Phillippe R.D. Simon, 49 -- are being held captive by the rebels.

The two Belgians were reported missing three weeks ago.

"We will offer a preliminary meeting with the abductors while waiting for a response from the President," Van den Broek remarked.

The two church officials met with Irian Jaya Police chief Insp. Gen. Made Mangku Pastika to discuss their departure to Puncak Jaya regency.

In a related development, Irian Jaya Governor JP Solossa said that the letter sent by the separatist group had been sent to the provincial administration representative in Jakarta to be passed on to President Abdurrahman.

"We have forwarded the letter to Jakarta but the demand to take the Free Papua issue to an international forum can’t be done within one or two days, as the President is still on his overseas trip," Solossa said.

Paul Barber TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign 25 Plovers Way, Alton Hampshire GU34 2JJ Tel/Fax: 01420 80153 Email:  Internet: 

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