FEAR OF POLICE ATTACK IN WEST BIAK, PAPUA

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AUSTRALIA WEST PAPUA ASSOCIATION, SYDNEY PO Box 65, Millers Point, NSW, Australia 2000 Tele/fax: 61.2. 99601698 Email: iris@matra.com.au

PRESS RELEASE August 16, 2002

There is concern that the police will start an operation to target the OPM leader Melkianus Awom.

The police have twice issued summons to Melkianus and other members of his group accusing them of subversion (article 106 of the criminal code).

They had warned that if they failed to appear, the police would use force to bring them in.

Despite the police ultimatum, Melkianus has declared he will not report.

There are fears that this could open the way for the police to launch an attack on the training center in West Biak. For three weeks there has been a visible build up of Brimob troops close to this training center, where Melkianus and his group conduct training.

ZONE OF PEACE?

The human rights group ELSHAM (Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy) has been facilitating meetings between various civil society organizations, both Papuan and Non Papuan, on how to turn Papua into a zone of peace.

The police chief has said he is willing to collaborate with groups working towards this aim. However, the fact that the police have launched an operation called "Adil Matoa Operation" to target groups that they perceive to be separatists, makes one wonder how genuine his commitment is to working towards such a zone of peace.

Melkianus has said he is committed to using peaceful means and dialogue to try and solve the problems in the province and that he favors the creation of the zone of peace.

The military and police build up in the province and their recent movements into known OPM areas are believed to be part of a deliberate campaign to provoke the OPM into action so the military will have an excuse to attack them.

It would appear there is a systematic campaign by the Indonesian military to target the West Papuan leadership. The assassination of the West Papuan leader, Chief Theys Eluay, who was chairman of The Papuan Presidium Council by Kopassus troops, and most recently the suspicious circumstances surrounding the poisoning of Yafeth Yelemaken, Director of the Civilian Custom Institute in Wamena, are just two such examples.

AWPA, Sydney urges the Australian government to use its good offices with the Indonesian government, asking that it order their military to halt any planned military operations and immediately return to their barracks as a way of easing tensions (and ultimately saving lives) in the province.

For additional information contact: John Rumbiak + 62 984 22 032 Father Nato in Biak + 62 981 21 029 Joe Collins + 61 2 99601698

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