Fwd: West Papua articles
abradley1 at bigpond.com
Mon Sep 2 20:15:47 MDT 2002
Comrades may be aware that there is some interesting stuff going on in
(West) Papua at the moment. There are some news stories (from the Murdoch
Guerilla leader's men nabbed
By Don Greenlees
September 03, 2002
THE Indonesian army arrested several followers of a high-profile rebel
leader in Papua yesterday following a bloody ambush in which two American
teachers and an Indonesian employed by the giant Freeport copper and gold
mine were killed.
As special forces and regular army troops launched operations in jungle
country around the mine, army chief General Ryamizard Ryacudu announced the
arrest of guerillas belonging to a Free Papua Organisation (OPM) force
commanded by Kelly Kwalik.
But security analysts in Papua say evidence is mounting that a hardline
breakaway OPM group carried out the attack to draw international attention
to the Papuan independence cause.
They cite two rebel leaders - Titus Morib and Goliath Tibuni - blamed for a
bold raid late last year on the town of Illaga, which rebels occupied for
three days, engaging in gun battles with Indonesian forces. This group also
was connected with the kidnapping of two Belgians.
The army and police recovered 93 shell casings from the site of Saturday's
ambush in which Americans Edwin Leon Burcon, the 57-year-old headmaster of
the mine's school, and teacher Rickey Spear, 45, were killed.
The weapons used appeared to be a combination of M-16s and a 1950s
semi-automatic rifle. It is thought the attack was carried out by about 10
Sources said the army was conducting intense patrols using several hundred
men, believing it might have boxed in a group of rebels potentially
responsible for the ambush.
General Ryacudu did not confirm the OPM members arrested so far were
suspected of taking part in the attack.
The bloody incident - the worst in the mine's troubled history in Papua -
undermines the strategy being pursued by the political wing of the
independence movement. Some Papuan activists have expressed doubt over the
armed forces' claims that OPM was responsible.
A statement issued by the pro-independence Papuan Presidium deplored the
attack, and maintained the independence movement was committed to achieving
its goals through peaceful means.
The killing of foreign nationals has never been the policy of Papuans
promoting their political aspirations. Even before the present policy of
non-violence, the armed wing of the liberation movement never attacked
foreign nationals as a strategy to gain international attention.
Papua tense after attack
By Don Greenlees and Amanda Hodge
September 02, 2002
THE weekend murder of three employees of a US mining company in Papua,
including two Americans, risks seriously escalating tensions between Jakarta
and the independence movement in the rebellious Indonesian province.
Unidentified gunmen shot the three and wounded another eight people during
an ambush on Saturday in a rugged mountain region of southwest Papua, near
the giant copper and gold mine owned by US firm Freeport McMoRan.
The worst attack in the mine's troubled three-decade history came amid
concerns among Papuan leaders that Jakarta is manoeuvring to crack down on
the civilian and armed groups pressing for independence.
Military and police commanders ordered reinforcements into the area
surrounding the mountain-top Freeport mine after the attack to carry out
sweeps for the men who opened fire on a three-vehicle convoy of
mine-employed school teachers and their families.
In dense fog yesterday morning, troops from an Indonesian army battalion and
paramilitary police unit guarding the Freeport operation exchanged fire with
an armed group in the vicinity of the shootings. One Indonesian private was
wounded in the thigh and an alleged rebel was reported killed.
Indonesia's Papua military commander, Major-General Mahidin Simbolon, was
quick to blame the murders on Free Papua Organisation (OPM) guerilla leader
Kelly Kwalik, responsible for the 1996 kidnapping of a group of foreigners.
But Papuan leaders called for an independent investigation of "international
standard and reputation" to establish the assailants' identity, expressing
doubts that OPM guerillas were responsible.
The eight wounded, including six Americans, were flown to Townsville. A
hospital spokesman said a critically injured man and woman had undergone
surgery. An uninjured six-year-old girl was among the evacuees.
The mine's distraught townsite manager, Geoff Hocking, and his wife cut
short a Melbourne holiday to rush to Townsville yesterday. Ann Hocking, who
knew many of the injured, said the attack had come as a great shock because
there had been "no warning" that any trouble was brewing in the volatile
The violence risks significantly increasing political tension in Papua as
the Indonesian Government struggles to satisfy demands from the independence
movement with an offer of autonomous rule.
Papuans already are angry about the assassination of independence leader
Theys Eluay in November. A dozen army special forces soldiers are about to
go before a military court over his murder.
Some Jakarta-based security analysts fear Saturday's attack could strengthen
the military's hand if it seeks to launch an armed crackdown on the
relatively dormant guerilla movement. Police have embarked on a 60-day
operation aimed at putting the political wing of the independence movement
out of business.
Describing the attack, military and police officers said the party of school
teachers was descending from the mining settlement of Tembagapura to attend
a ball in a Freeport residential area on the coastal plains.
About 1.40pm, the first two vehicles in the convoy were fired upon. A third
vehicle managed to turn back to alert an army post about 1km away. Security
forces claimed to have found cartridges from M16 rifles at the scene. There
were unconfirmed reports that cartridges were found from Steyr rifles, a
type of weapon not known to be possessed by the ill-equipped OPM.
A co-ordinator with the Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy in
Papua, John Rumbiak, said he had met Mr Kwalik a week ago and won his
support for a peace initiative.
"I don't believe this was done by Kelly Kwalik and his group," Mr Rumbiak
said. "His reaction (to the peace proposal) was very positive and he pulled
back his troops."
Ambush victims in hospital alert
Lisa Yallamas, Nathan Scholz and Paula Doneman
SIX injured Americans and two Indonesians were under guard last night in
Townsville hospital after a bloody ambush in the Indonesian province of
Three people were killed and 14 injured - some critically - after
unidentified gunmen opened fire on a convoy of mainly western workers,
including teachers, travelling to the American-operated Grasberg mine, the
world's largest goldmine.
In Townsville yesterday about 50 extra hospital staff were called in -
including orthopedic, neuro and general surgeons.
One of those admitted was a six-year-old girl.
Last night there were conflicting reports about who was responsible - the
Free Papua Movement (OPM) or the Indonesian military. Indonesian officials
condemned the attack and blamed the OPM.
Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa said it appeared to
match the OPM style.
But security analysts said the attack, mounted with automatic weapons, was
unlikely to be the OPM's work.
The Indonesian human rights group Elsham Papua said rebel leader Kelly
Kwalik had contacted the group to deny responsibility.
Elsham Papua director John Rumbiak said the Indonesian military wanted to
speed up negotiations for military ties with Washington by blaming the OPM.
University of Queensland Papua historian Greg Poulgrain said the
Indonesian's elite forces, Kopassus, used similar tactics against against
East Timorese freedom fighters.
A police statement identified the dead as Ted Burcon and Rickey Spear, both
Americans, and Bambang Riwanto, an Indonesian.
Queensland police last night were guarding eight victims in Townsville
Barry Hodges, acting hospital executive director of medical services, said a
man and a woman arrived in a critical condition but had been stabilised
Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson said police had been helping
Representatives from Freeport-McMoran Copper and Gold Inc, whose Indonesian
affiliate operates the Papua site, flew into Townsville yesterday.
The company's Louisiana headquarters said in a statement the company and its
Indonesian subsidiary "deplore the senseless act of violence and express
sincere condolences to the family and friends of the victims".
US embassy officials are expected in Townsville today.
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