Fri, 15 Dec 2000

Five arrested for organizing parade

JAKARTA (JP): Jayapura Police officers detained five people for allegedly organizing a parade on Thursday to commemorate the 12th anniversary of West Melanesia Independence.

Sr. Supt. Kusnadi, chief of operations and control for the Irian Jaya police, said that around 30 activists of the West Melanesian separatist movement paraded along Jayapura streets earlier in the day.

"Five of them were detained, but later in the day we let them go," he told The Jakarta Post by phone.

The five coordinators were identified as West Melanesia Board chairman Albert Kailele, the marching committee chief Yordan Iek, activist Harry Wanggae, former political prisoners Eddy Waromi and Sonny Mosso.

Kusnadi said seeds of separatism would always grow In Irian Jaya, "But, compared to the activities of Theys' (Theys Hiyo Eluay) separatist movement group on Dec. 1, the West Melanesian movement was not so threatening.

"Therefore, as long as their actions are within tolerable limits, we'll maintain our nonaggressive approach," he said.

The police also confiscated separatist flags, called the West Melanesia flag, Indonesian flags, several banners and posters, the Suara Pembaruan afternoon daily reported.

The daily reported that Jayapura Police precinct chief Supt. Daud Sihombing said the police had previously refused to issue a permit for the parade.

He said the committee's request could not be granted as it was outside procedures. But he did not elaborate.

"However, they insisted on reading out a declaration of the so called West Melanesian state and I dispersed the marchers and arrested the coordinators," Daud said.

He said the police had deployed additional security officers at several strategic locations to anticipate problems prior to the activities marking the anniversary.

Some 50 people commemorated the anniversary by marching from Argapura area to downtown Imbi field in Jayapura. The marchers carried banners, national flags and separatist flags.

On their way to the Provincial Legislative Council building, the protesters were blocked by officers from the police Mobile Brigade. Both groups were later involved in a negotiation.

Shortly after the negotiation, the police escorted the protesters to the heavily guarded legislative compound.

The West Melanesian state was declared in 1988 during a ceremony at the Jayapura Mandala football stadium. The ceremony was led by Thomas Wapay Wainggai.

Wainggai received a masters degree from the Okayama University school of law in Japan in 1969 and a doctorate in public administration from Florida State University in 1985. He died in the Cipinang penitentiary in East Jakarta in March 1996.

Manokwari incident

In Manokwari, some 700 kilometers to the west of Jayapura, an Irianese man died in police custody on Wednesday

Speaking about the incident, Kusnadi said the Irianese, who ran a sand business, became embroiled in a dispute with a migrant buyer.

"Without warning the Irianese ran amok and attacked the buyer. The buyer later reported the incident to the police.

"The police then took the Irianese to police headquarters where he later died," he said.

"The death of the man almost triggered an altercation between locals and the police. But, the autopsy results showed that the man died of respiratory problems.

"There was no signs of torture. He might have had acute respiratory problems," he added.

Kusnadi said the crowd dispersed without incident later on Wednesday afternoon. (edt/lup/imn)