Irian Jaya separatists claim Wahid open minded on independence PDF Afdrukken E-mailadres
woensdag 05 juli 2000 01:00

JAKARTA, July 5 (AFP) - Leaders of the pro-independence movement in
Indonesia's easternmost province of Irian Jaya said Wednesday that President
Abdurrahman Wahid had not objected to their bid for independence.

Theys Eluay, the president of the Presidium of the Papuan People, told a
press conference here that Wahid "did not reject" a call for independence
issued at the end of a week-long Papuan People's Congress last month.

Eluay said that several Papuan leaders, including himself, had met with Wahid
late on Tuesday night to report on the results of the congress.

"We came (to see him) simply just to convey the results of the Papuan
congress. He (Wahid) said 'fine, I will study it further ... let us build the
steps ahead through constant dialogue'," Eluay told AFP on the sidelines of
the press conference.

"He (Wahid) did not reject it, he said he would further study the results of
the congress," Eluay added.

At the press briefing, Eluay also said that Wahid did not show "any cynical
tone, or reject the result" of the congress.

The congress ended in Jayapura on June 4 with a resolution saying that West
Papua -- as the pro-independence lobby refers to Irian Jaya -- had been a
sovereign state since it was proclaimed on December 1, 1961, and that its
incorporation into Indonesia in 1969 was legally flawed and therefore null
and void.

The congress has also called on Jakarta to recognize the sovereignty of West

However Wahid has since said publicly that his goverment did "not recognize
the congress," and called it "illegitimate", saying that it had failed to
represent the entire spectrum of society in Irian Jaya.

Eluay refused to comment on a police summons for the congress organizers to
be questioned on treason charges for advocating separatism, saying that the
press briefing was only to discuss the meeting with Wahid.

He said that his group would "always be ready to support Wahid's "leadership
as president of the Republic of Indonesia," because "through him we have
reached a degree of progress."

He cited Wahid's donation of one billion rupiah (111,000 dollars) for the
congress, and his promise (later retracted) to open the congress, as the
group's reasons for supporting the president.

The presidium's mediator, Willy Mandowen, said Wahid was "the only one who
still regards Papuans as his people while others have forsaken us."

Mandowen also said his group would intiate a campaign to raise the
independence "Morning Star" flag throughout the province, starting from July
14 to August 2.

Meanwhile, the group's vice president, Tom Beanal, warned Wahid's political
opponents in Jakarta against trying to topple the president.

"No matter what, we are going to fight alongside him, but if anyone tries to
rise to power, the first thing that we will do is to separate ourselves from
Indonesia," he said.

But Eluay said that people of Papua "will not rely on Gus Dur (Wahid's
popular nickname) as the person who will grant independence" for the
mineral-rich province.

"We are fighting without weapons ... every Papuan is fighting for
independence through prayers to Jesus Christ," he said.

"He is God's greatest gift for this country," Eluay added.

Since the congress ended, calls have mounted in Jakarta for the government to
take a firmer stance against separatists in regions such as Irian Jaya and
Aceh, another province where there is strong pressure for self-rule.