Wutung Border Between PNG, Indonesia Still Closed, Unsafe

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PNG Defence Force offers no guaranty of protection for citizens

By Haiveta Kivia

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 22, 2014) – Papua New Guinea Defence Force soldiers have been instructed not to allow Papua New Guinea citizens to cross over to Indonesia at the PNG-Indonesian boarder at Wutung, West Sepik Province.

The commanding officer of PNG forces at the border, Major Peter Waiaki, told the media in Vanimo that the situation at the border is still tense and there is no guarantee that the lives of PNG citizens will be protected.

Maj Waiaki said the OPM (Organisasi Papua Merdeka) rebels were attacking the Indonesian establishment at Batas and Indonesian officials randomly and it was still unsafe for PNG citizens.

The border was re-opened last Wednesday by the Indonesians and the acting Governor of Sandaun Provincial Government Paul Negai in a meeting held at the Indonesian government establishment at Batas.

The Post-Courier was not invited to the meeting even though journalists from other PNG media organisations were invited and sat in the meeting.

Maj Waiaki’s point of the border still been risky was further emphasised by the OPMs when they ambushed the Indonesian delegation as they left Batas after the meeting.

An Indonesian national was injured in the ambush and it was later reported that he died from heavy loss of blood.

Maj Waiaki had earlier said that OPM rebels capitalise on special occasions and special people and try as much to disrupt such activities and visits to draw attention to their cause for self determination and independence.

This was exactly what the OPMs did, put a mark on the border meeting, to say that they are still around.

PNGDF soldiers tried to rid the OPMs in and around the Wutung area by burning down bush camps belonging to the Wamena people from the highlands of the Papua Province of the Republic of Indonesia.

The camps were first razed on Friday April 11 and again on April 14 but the Wamena people, regarded as the spear heads of the OPM’s fight against the Indonesian rule and for a free West Papua, are still around the West Sepik province and along the west coast towards the Indonesian border.

Major Waiaki also asked the media, especially Post-Courier, not to sensationalise the issue as it was both a security risk to his men and lives of PNG citizens.

However, a senior public servant in Vanimo confided that all the Post-Courier reports were factual except for the PNGDF reinforcements from Igam, Moem and Port Moresby.

He said the Post-Courier has been on the spot with what was happening on the ground and should be commended.

This reporter also visited the border on Wednesday and it was very quiet, with the Covec Engineering workers working on the PNG Government’s border infrastructures and four PNG soldiers guarding the PNG officials’ vehicles, parked on our side of the border.

Fast asleep on a bench in the waiting area was a lone PNG Citizen, probably from Wutung, glad in his motorcycle helmet and oblivious to his surroundings.

At the crest of the Bougainville ridge is situated the international border with a clearing housing, our Government infrastructures and to the right is the cliff dropping down to the sea at Wutung. To the left is a dense jungle and steep ravine that can’t be easily accessed.

The OPMs are launching their attacks and making their escapes through there.

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