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By Kathy Fairfax

SYDNEY, Australia (September 18, 2002 – Green Left Weekly)---Rex Rumakiek, a long-standing OPM (Organisasi Papua Merdeka) representative in Australia, denied that the West Papua independence group was involved in the August 31 attack on the giant U.S.-owned Freeport gold and copper mine, which left three workers dead and several more injured.

Speaking at the monthly ASAP (Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific) forum on September 12, Rumakiek called for an independent international inquiry into the killings, which the Indonesian government is attempting to blame on independence activists. The U.S. FBI is conducting its own inquiries into the incident and is preventing media contact with the survivors recovering in a Townsville hospital.

Rumakiek says this, together with the Indonesian request to list the OPM as a terrorist organization and to freeze any assets it has in Australia, is all part of the Indonesian government's harassment of independence activists.

This harassment has also spread to Australia, with Indonesia's National Intelligence Agency investigating a seminar last month at Sydney University, organized by the West Papua Project in the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. This was attended by eight Papuans.

Centre director Professor Stuart Rees said the Papuan visit had been endorsed by the Australian and Indonesian governments and the investigation is an attempt to divert responsibility from the Indonesian military.

Rumakiek was part of a panel reporting back to ASAP activists from the 33rd Pacific Islands Forum, where the West Papuan attempt to have the PIF recognize their independence claim was, once again, derailed by Australia.

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