Fri, 17 Mar 2000

Irianese leaders accused of plot against the govt

JAYAPURA, Irian Jaya (JP): Local police have officially named nine leading Irianese figures here as suspects for allegedly plotting against the state.

Irian Jaya Police chief of detectives Col. Tukarno said on Wednesday that the nine were named suspects for their alleged involvement in a series of proindependence rallies since late last year.

The suspects are activist leader Theys H. Eluay, Father Herman Awom, Cenderawasih University lecturer Isaak Ayomi, secretary of the provincial Development and Planning Board (Bappeda) Don Al. Flasy, former political prisoner John Mambor, former councillor Beatrix Rumbino and student leaders Martinus Werimon, Barnabas Yufuway and Laurens Mehue.

The nine were specifically said to be behind three incidents. The first was a gathering on Sept. 12, 1999, at Theys' house, which declared that the separatist Morning Star flag would be hoisted on Dec. 1. The second was the Dec. 1 hoisting of the flag and the third was when the Papuan Congress was held in Sentani from Feb. 23 to Feb. 26.

All are members of the Papuan Presidium Council, set up by the Papuan Congress.

The Congress ended with a unanimous rejection of the 1969 plebiscite which became the basis for the incorporation of the former Dutch territory into Indonesia.

"Aspirations for independence are acceptable, but don't commit crimes against the state, including separating from the Republic of Indonesia," Tukarno said, adding that they were being charged with Articles 106, 110 and 154 of the Criminal Code.

"The status of the nine is that they are officially suspects based on the information we have gathered and from witnesses," he added.

Tukarno said two other figures, Amungme tribal leader Tom Beanal and lecturer Willy Mandowen, were also being questioned.

"Willy Mandowen has fulfilled our summons but Tom Beanal hasn't," he said.

Demands for independence have been on the rise over the past two years in the province, which is home to one of the world's largest gold and copper mining industries, amid the backdrop of past human rights violations and the unfair divisions of revenue earned from exploiting its natural resources. (eba)