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By Tiarma Siboro

JAKARTA, Indonesia (February 4, 2002 – Jakarta Post/Kabar-Irian)---Religious leaders in the restive province of Papua rejected on Saturday the inclusion of military and police personnel in the planned National Investigation Commission (KPN), arguing that they wanted only independent, professional and trustworthy people to join the team.

"We stand by our position that ... the commission should be endowed with strong legal powers by the President ... and contain independent, professional and trustworthy people in the eyes of the public," the religious leaders said in a letter sent to President Megawati Sukarnoputri on Saturday.

The letter was signed by Papua Bishop Mgr. Leo Leba Ladjar.

"This conviction is held not only by religious leaders in Papua but is also shared by the Papua governor, the police chief, members of the Regional House of Representatives (DPRD), scholars, humanitarian volunteers and all who wish that justice be upheld in Indonesia, especially in Papua," they added.

The religious leaders were reacting to a central government plan to include the military and police in KPN to investigate the tragic death of independence leader Dortheys "Theys" Hiyo Eluay in November 2001.

Theys, who was also chairman of the Papua Presidium Council, was found dead in his car in Koya Tengah village, near the provincial capital Jayapura, a day after he and his driver Aristoteles Masoka were kidnapped by unidentified gunmen.

Investigations by Papua police and the Army headquarters have concluded that certain military elements were responsible for Theys' murder.

Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Wednesday that President Megawati would soon issue a decree establishing an investigation team, whose members would include military and police personnel, and government officials.

Susilo, however, was quick to add that "the team would also have prominent Papuan members, including religious leaders and several human rights activists from the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) in Jakarta and Papua."

The religious leaders expressed disappointment over the planned inclusion of military and police in the investigation commission, saying that the move demonstrated that the central government was not listening to the aspirations of its own people living in Papua.

"We are deeply disappointed with the central government's plan to include military and police personnel in KPN," the religious leaders said in the letter, copies of which were also sent to, among others, the Papua governor, Papua military commander, head of Papua DPRD and legislators representing Papua province.

The religious leaders argued that Megawati's insistence on including military and police personnel in the team showed "the central government is again unwilling to open its heart to listen to complaints from its own people, especially those in Papua, who have long wanted a fair, transparent and independent probe into the killing of Theys Hiyo Eluay without involving the military and police."

They also accused the government of not being transparent and even ignoring the people's aspirations in establishing the team as they earlier demanded that the military, police, and government officials be excluded from the team.

Earlier, a group of Papuan religious leaders had proposed two names from Komnas HAM, one from the National Commission on Women's Rights (Komnas Perempuan), one each from the University of Indonesia and Cendrawasih University and four from legal aid institutions.

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