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Australian Broadcasting Corporation December 17, 2001

It is more than a month since the battered body of a West Papuan independence leader was found in a gully near the Papua New Guinea border. The 64-year old Theys Hiyo Eluay was abducted at night on a lonely road on the 10th of November, and despite extensive investigations by police and intelligence agencies, no one has been arrested or charged in connection to his death. The leading human rights group in the province, ELS-HAM, has also released a scathing report on the security situation at the time of Theys Eluay's death.

Presenter/Interviewer: Tricia Fitzgerald

Speakers: Doctor Benny Giay, Human Rights Group ELS-HAM.

FITZGERALD: ELS-HAM's report reveals there was a night curfew in place in the region where the chief and his driver were ambushed, indicating only security forces would have been moving freely in the area at the time of his death.

The report also points out that Chief Eluay's abductors had driven unrestricted, through as many as 30 security check points in order to dump his body.

Witnesses' interviewed by ELS-HAM, had seen the actual abduction, and the Chief's missing driver. Others had seen KOPASSUS special forces on active duty in the area where Chief Eluay's body was dumped.

West Papuan church leader and ELS-HAM's chairperson Benny Giay says those witnesses have been intimidated by the police.

GIAY: One of the things that we can see is the fear among Papuans, particularly the witnesses. They feel like they've been intimidated or terrorized, people who show the driver where at the spot when Theys Eluay was abducted, even took the driver to the headquarters of the military as part of the request of the driver.

FITZGERALD: So the driver asked these people to take him to the head of the military?

GIAY: Yes, headquarters.

FITZGERALD: And since then?

GIAY: Disappeared.

FITZGERALD: Doctor Giay says Chief Eluay's killing and a leaked Indonesian Government report has spread fear amongst independence and church leaders.

GIAY: Not only the witnesses but also their family, some elites, religious and political elites, so there's an atmosphere of fear very, very prevalent.

FITZGERALD: There's also a rumor that this killing was part of a sort of premeditated plan by the Indonesian authorities, and there has been a leaking of a list of people that are supposedly going to be assassinated by the Indonesian forces. Have you heard about this list and are they the people that are really worried about their own security now, wondering whether they'll be next?

GIAY: Yes, yes, this document actually was already known --some of the church and political elites -- because it was produced last year in June. We were not prepared that this document was going to be implemented. After Theys was abducted and killed we realized that it was serious and indeed it really makes West Papuans insecure.

FITZGERALD: In the wake of Chief Eluay's death Doctor Giay and other church leaders believe it's unsafe for the high-profile ELS-HAM spokesperson, John Rumbiak, and ELS-HAM director Johanis Bonay, who has been receiving telephone death threats, to remain in West Papua.

GIAY: Not only mine, it's other church leaders who are feeling that it is better for John and Johanis to maybe not do, get back to West Papua.

FITZGERALD: Doctor Giay says West Papuans are expecting President Megawati Sukarnoputri to show there's been real progress on the investigation when she visits the province this weekend.

GIAY: She has to announce, tell the public who was behind the assassination of Theys Eluay and she has to say what was the agenda and she has to announce some kind of punishment.

[Note: The ELS-HAM report is available on the TAPOL website at www.gn.apc.org/tapol/r011213theys.htm.] 

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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