Thu, 11 May 2000

Dutch MPs confirm their noninterference policy

JAYAPURA, Irian Jaya (JP): Visiting members of the Dutch Parliament asserted on Wednesday their country's pledge not to meddle with the long-standing independence movement in the province.

Spokesperson for the Dutch Parliament delegation Margaretha de Boer told journalists the problems relating to the independence call could be dealt with only by the Indonesian people.

She said their presence was not to support the Papuans' demand for independence, but to listen to the people about the political situation in Indonesia, including Irian Jaya.

De Boer admitted she was aware that her visit here could evoke misunderstanding among people who are fighting for their independence.

She said her country supported the process of democratization being developed in Indonesia under the leadership of President Abdurrahman Wahid.

De Boer, who represents the Labor Party, said the delegation wanted to see how the process of reform was going on, listen to people's views on the reform and learned if human rights are respected in the easternmost province.

In a meeting with Institute for the Human Rights Studies and Advocacy (IHRSTAD) and the Roman Catholic Church Office of Justice and Peace on Wednesday, the Dutch delegates met with 20 Papuans who claimed to suffer from military abuse.

One of them, teenager Karolina Onim, who had to use a crutch when walking, told the MPs she had been shot in her right leg during a proindependence rally at the Cendrawasih University campus on July 3, 1998.

She said that she was in the building of the Institute of Theology, when a stray bullet hit her leg.

Military troops invaded the campus to disperse the students.

The Dutch delegation arrived in Irian Jaya on Tuesday. Apart from de Boer, the group consists of AG Koendrs of the Labor Party, Enric Hessing of the Liberal Party, Jon Hookoma of the Spiegel Liberal Party, Marijke Vos and De Gaane of the Green Party and Johan Hommes, the deputy clerk.

During their visit here, they met with caretaker governor Musiran Darmosuwito, provincial military chief Maj. Gen. Albert Ingkiriwang, speaker of provincial legislative council TN Kaiway, church representatives and Jayapura-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Irian Jaya's takeover by the United Nations in 1963 marked the end of two and a half centuries of Dutch colonization in the Indonesian archipelago. (eba/sur)