INDONESIAN GOVERNMENT TEAM ON THEYS' MURDER NOWHERE TO BE SEEN

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (December 5, 2001 - The Jakarta Post/Joyo Indonesian News/TAPOL)---All plans to conduct an investigation into the Nov. 11 murder of Papuan independence activist Theys Hiyo Eluay were clouded in uncertainty on Tuesday.

The joint military-police team that the central government said had been set up last week was nowhere to be seen.

Irian Jaya's religious leaders made a joint statement making it clear that they flatly rejected the monitoring team formed by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM). They insisted that what was needed was an independent investigation team.

The religious leaders were the first to call for Komnas HAM to form an independent team, free from intervention by the police or military, who are widely suspected of being involved in the murder.

At the House of Representatives, a group from the Papuan Presidium Council demanded that the legislative body set up its own independent investigation team.

The statement that probably raised the most eyebrows came from Trikora Military commander Maj. Gen. Mahidin Simbolon, whose area of jurisdiction covers Irian Jaya. He claims that he had not heard of the team that the government formed last week.

"What joint team?" he retorted when journalists asked him how the team was doing. Simbolon was at the Army Headquarters in Jakarta on Tuesday.

The formation of a joint military-police team was announced by Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono last week. The decision was made in a coordinating meeting on security and political affairs.

The move was intended to show that the authorities were serious about looking into speculations that the military was behind Theys' murder.

It turned out that Mahidin had set up his own investigation team. The result so far is that "there were no military personnel involved in the incident," he said.

"I also support the police's efforts to investigate the case in an objective way," Mahidin said.

Papuan Presidium Council (PDP) activists set a deadline of Dec. 10 for the National Police to announce the results of their investigation into the case, otherwise they will reject efforts to seek a peaceful solution to the rising separatism in the province.

"If they miss the deadline, we won't trust the government any longer," Tom Beanal, deputy chairman of the PDP, told House Speaker Akbar Tandjung.

Accompanying him were PDP Secretary-General Thaha Mohammad Alhamid and PDP member Yorris Raweyai.

"Only if the results of the investigation are disclosed, will we be willing to continue the talks on Papuan autonomy and its implementation," Tom added.

The PDP delegation also called on the House to form a special committee to investigate the murder or to facilitate the setting up of an independent team to probe the murder.

"The investigation should be carried out by the authorities in Irian Jaya instead of setting up another kind of inquiry team," Tom said, contrary to the demands of other members of the PDP delegation.

Responding to the delegation's demand, Akbar simply said that the House gave "serious attention" to the murder, adding that dialog would be necessary to solve the separatist problem.

Although investigation by the local joint team is still in progress, National Police chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar told the House that no military personnel were involved in the murder.

Irian Jaya Police chief Insp. Gen. I Made Mangku Pastika, who was also present at the hearing, said that the police had questioned 47 people as witnesses and none had been named as a suspect.

Paul Barber TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign 25 Plovers Way, Alton Hampshire GU34 2JJ Tel/Fax: 01420 80153 Email: plovers@gn.apc.org  Internet: www.gn.apc.org/tapol 

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