PAPUA SHOOTING RESPONSIBILITY PUZZLE DEEPENS

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JAYAPURA, Papua, Indonesia (September 23, 2002 - Laksamana.Net/ Kabar-Irian)---Allegations continued to fly last week over responsibility for the shooting of two Americans and an Indonesian August 31 at the Freeport mine.

Regional military commander Maj. Gen. Mahidin Simbolon added to the confusion by implying that the killing of a fourth person, an Indonesian soldier, might have involved staff of the copper and gold miner.

He said security officers found three explosive devices, three detonators, cables, gas and a battery after an attempt to blow a bridge on the mine's only access road.

"One detonator went off but it failed to destroy a bridge. All those items are believed to have come from Freeport; they belonged to the company," he said.

Other sources have blamed the military itself for launching the initial raid, while the military says a faction of the Free Papua Organization (OPM) was most likely the culprit.

More action occurred when gunmen fired on a car carrying police officers investigating the initial ambush, The Sydney Morning Herald reported September 17.

"Evidence mounts of a campaign of intimidation aimed at thwarting the police inquiry," the report stated.

Police Maj. Gen. Made Pastika has cast doubts over the military's account of the events, revealing that a suspect allegedly shot by the military a day after the first attack was suffering from engorgement of the testicles -- a condition that would have made movement through the mountains impossible -- and when discovered, he had been dead for around 24 hours.

ELS-HAM leader John Rumbiak provisionally identified the man as Danianus Waker, a known military informer for the past two years.

Pastika also revealed that a vehicle used by police investigators had been fired on in the area of the ambush, and that a vehicle carrying troops was also shot at.

The Australian reported that the Freeport mine had received a letter declaring that the ambush was only the start of a campaign against foreign business in Papua.

The letter, signed by hard-line OPM commander Titus Morib, was delivered days after the first ambush and said a three-month campaign would target commercial interests in Papua.

OPM has officially denied any involvement in the ambush but the report cited analysts as saying that it was possible the wave of attacks were the work of an OPM splinter group, although others said the organization was now more united than it had ever been in the past.

Police chief Pastika is also skeptical: "There is no strong indication that the perpetrators were the OPM; there are no indications," he told The Australian.

Papua human rights organization ELS-HAM alleged that both its personnel and Mimika police investigation teams are continuing to receive death threats, and have been terrorized and intimidated by those suspected of being involved in the shooting of Freeport employees.

ELS-HAM leader John Rumbiak was followed by a member of military intelligence in Mimika, when he was on his way to a meeting with Freeport security officials, a statement from the organization said.

The same military intelligence office Tuesday (Sept.19, 2002) went to the housing complex of Paula Makabori, the secretary of the ELS-HAM investigation team, and asked neighbors to identify the homes of Amungme people living in the area.

A member of the ELS-HAM team was almost killed in an incident allegedly provoked by two intelligence officers and an army officer a day later.

"Every day new people who were unknown in the area arrived at the ELS-HAM secretariat posing as food and clothing sellers, shoe repairers, parking inspectors, with others just milling around the secretariat and others posing as public transport drivers," the release said.

Other residents said they were taking refuge with relatives near the coast after intimidation "by masked black ninjas."

Meanwhile, prominent Australian scientist Professor Tim Flannery, director of the South Australian Museum, told Radio Australia he believes the killings will be a turning point in already strained relations between the United States and the Indonesian military.

Flannery, who spent many years doing research in Papua and in neighboring Papua New Guinea, says the new U.S. Corporate Fraud Law may have an indirect impact on relations between the mine's owners and the Indonesian military.

"It seems to me there is a very strong link between the military and the mine. I know that for example Freeport has been accused in a board holders meeting of spending $35 million on infrastructure for the Indonesian military, and this was something that was disputed by shareholders in the company."

New provinces move

Around 300 Papuans resident in Jakarta turned out Friday (Sept. 20, 2002) to demand the creation of three separate provinces in Papua, as proposed by former President B.J. Habibie in 1999.

The 300 Papuans met with President Megawati Sukarnoputri to push their demands for the creation of a West Papua province.

Among the group was Marine Brig. Gen. Abraham Octavianus Atturi, a senior intelligence officer likely to win the post of Governor if the West Papua move is approved. He earlier served as Regent of Sorong.

The group said that if the new province was not announced by October 12, they would instead push for independence from Indonesia.

KABAR-IRIAN ("Irian News") Websites: http://www.irja.org/index2.shtml and http://www.kabar-irian.com 

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