Sun, 04 Jun 2000

Draft political resolution adopted at Papuan Congress

JAYAPURA, Irian Jaya (JP): The Papuan Congress has officially adopted a draft political resolution that affirms the province's determination to separate from Indonesia.

The five-point statement, approved by the congress' political affairs committee on Saturday, states that West Papua has been an independent state since Dec. 1, 1961, when Irian Jaya separatist leaders declared the territory's independence from the Netherlands.

"West Papua is not a part of Indonesia," the statement said.

The independence declaration is expected to be formally proclaimed by the congress presidium on Sunday.

The six-day congress was initially scheduled to be closed on Saturday but participants agreed to extend it till Sunday to enable more of the 2,700 participants to make a statement.

The 31-member Papuan Presidium Council has also been tasked to seek recognition from the international community for West Papua's statehood.

The congress is also expected to endorse Theys H. Eluay as chairman and Amungme tribal leader Tom Beanal as vice chairman of the presidium when it ends on Sunday.

In March, Irian Jaya police officially named Theys along with eight local leaders as suspects for plotting against the state.

Tom, who is also a commissioner of giant copper and gold mining company PT Freeport Indonesia, was also called as a witness in the case but not a suspect.

However, at the time, he refused to be questioned by police.

"This declaration does not mean Papua is separating from Indonesia because legally, and according to our history, Papua never became part of Indonesia," Theys said in his speech, which was received with huge applause.

"Papuan people are different from Indonesians," Theys asserted.

But Theys affirmed that Papuans would stick to dialogs and other peaceful means to achieve their independence goal.


To facilitate efforts to gain international recognition, the congress agreed to appoint a special ambassador-at-large to conduct a worldwide campaign.

Spokesman for Papuan natives from Europe, Victor Kaisiepo, said his delegation would convey the results of the congress to international bodies and countries.

The congress plenary session also officially chose Papua as the name of the state. It also adopted My Land Papua as its national anthem, and the Mambruk bird as its state symbol.

Its official currency will be called the New Guinea golden.

"The Morning Star flag will rise forever in our motherland," shouted Thaha Alhamid, moderator of the plenary session.

The congress in its final declaration also assured the rights of the minority and nonindigenous people and vowed to protect the activities of various enterprises, but would require them to pay taxes to finance the struggle of the Papuan people.

Meanwhile, donning their traditional costumes and carrying spears and arrows, hundreds of Irianese from remote areas, mostly from the Dani tribe, arrived in Jayapura on Saturday to celebrate the congress.

Their arrival sparked some concern among non-Irianese residents in the city. Many residents fled their homes and took refuge at a nearby military base.

Hundreds of police officers patrolled strategic places in the city but kept their distance from the congress venue, the Cendrawasih Sports Hall.

Irian Jaya Police Chief Brig. Gen. S.Y. Wenas expressed his confidence that the congress task force itself would be able to maintain security over the congress.

"The situation is relatively conducive here," Wenas said.

President Abdurrahman Wahid has warned that the government will not hesitate to take harsh action if the people in the province take concrete measures to realize their independence aspiration.

In 1963, then president Sukarno led Indonesia's fight to regain the mineral-rich territory from the Netherlands. It was officially integrated into Indonesia after a UN-sponsored plebiscite in 1969.

Abdurrahman has assigned Sukarno's daughter Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri to lead efforts in taming the rebellious province. Megawati described social and welfare problems as the root of separatist movements.

On Saturday during a visit to Tomohon, North Sulawesi, the president expressed confidence that a majority of people in Irian Jaya still wanted to remain with Indonesia, while only a small number, those represented in the congress, desired an independent state.

Separately House of Representatives Speaker Akbar Tandjung called on the government to remain alert towards the growing aspirations of independence in the province.

"We should remain alert, Irian Jaya could separate like East Timor," he said during a visit to Pangkal Pinang, South Sumatra.

"We can not tolerate a part of the unitary state to separate". (eba/prb)