Sun, 23 Jun 2002

Students end hunger strike

INDONESIA: Seven students grouped in the West Papuan Students' National Front (FNMP) gave up their hunger strike on Saturday due to health concerns, but vowed to boycott the 2004 general election in the troubled province should the government fail to reveal the truth behind the killing of separatist Papuan leader Theys Hiyo Eluay and hold a referendum on self-determination.

The decision to end the strike came after two students, Robert Manaku of the Semarang-based Catholic University in Central Java, and Vivi Erari of the Yogyakarta-based Gadjah Mada University, were rushed to Cikini Hospital in Central Jakarta due to dehydration after almost three days on hunger strike.

The hunger strike was organized to protest the government's uncertain policies on Papua and to condemn the ongoing investigation into the murder of Theys, who was also the chairman of the Papuan Presidium Council (PDP), and who was found death hours after being abducted by an unknown group in November last year.

Many believe that a unit of the Army's Special Force (Kopassus), which is stationed at Hamadi in the Papuan provincial capital of Jayapura, was involved in the murder.

"The military's violence continues in our land, while the government just stands by watching it. There's no other way for us to stop it except to ask for a referendum to determine the future of the Papuan people," FNMP spokesman Charles Imbir told a media conference at the National Commission on Human Rights' offices in Central Jakarta. -- JP