Fri, 03 Nov 2000

Government to get tough on Papuan task force

JAKARTA (JP): Local authorities vowed on Thursday to take stern measures against the proindependence Papuan taskforce who have commandeered a government-owned provincial art building as their headquarters.

"Their time is up, but we'll try persuasive measures first so as to avoid possible casualties," Irian Jaya Police chief Brig. Gen. S.Y. Wenas told The Jakarta Post by telephone from Jayapura.

Wenas said a meeting between the leaders of the Papua Council Presidium (PDP) will take place on Nov. 9 to further discuss steps to lower the Morning Star separatist flag at the provincial art council in Jayapura and at the house of Council chief Theys Hiyo Eluay in Sentani district.

"The government's orders towards separatist movements are clear, there is no tolerance.

"On the field local authorities are trying to be flexible but if they (separatist) make an unlawful move, we'll arrest them," Wenas warned.

Provincial authorities want the building to function again as a government-owned cultural center.

"The building is a state asset which is not currently being used for its intended function," Wenas said.

Independence leaders have claimed that the culture center belongs to the people of Papua because it was there that Papuan independence was first declared in 1961.

Earlier on Wednesday, however, Theys Hiyo Eluay instructed his supporters to defy the governor's orders and stand their ground.

"I have instructed (them) to occupy the building. They cannot be pushed out until further talks with authorities on Nov. 9," he said.

Police and military, however, have intensified their security alert in response to the Council's claim that it would declare independence and hoist the Morning Star separatist flag on Dec. 1.

Meanwhile a personnel reshuffle has also taken place within the Trikora Military Command which overseas Irian Jaya.

Antara quoted Trikora Military Commander Maj. Gen. Albert Inkiriwang as saying that Intelligence Assistant Col. Inf. MR Saragih has been replaced by Col. Inf Armen Tonny, while Operational Assistant Col. Inf Mardikowoto has been replaced by Col. Inf Joey Sihotang.

The Command's Territorial Assistant Col. Inf Wais Negkeula has been replaced by Col. Inf Halasan Simanjuntak and Logistic Assistant Col. Inf Rahman has been succeeded by Col. Soebroto. (edt)