Papuan separatist leader arrested

The Jakarta Post
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Nethy Dharma Somba and Dian Kuswandini, The Jakarta Post,  Jayapura, Jakarta

Police on Monday arrested separatist leader Buchtar Tabuni as he was about to attend a massive rally in Jayapura, Papua, to show support for the newly created international parliamentarian
caucus for West Papua in London.

In Jakarta, a leading legislator said the House of Representatives would file a protest against the British Parliament through the British Embassy for supporting separatism.

Buchtar and 17 other Papuan separatists were arrested by police at Imbi Park and taken for questioning to Jayapura City Police headquarters some 30 meters from the park.

Buchtar was later transferred to Papua Provincial Police headquarters to be questioned as a witness in Thursday's rally to celebrate the establishment of the International
Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) in London.

The provincial police accused Buchtar as the rally organizer of violating Articles 106, 110, 160, 212 and 216 of the Criminal Code on sedition, agitating the public and resisting security officers.

Buchtar was released after complaining of illness. His questioning will continue next week.

Lawyer Latifah Anum Siregar, representing the separatists, said she regretted the way police had summoned the separatists to testify.

"They were beaten in public and then forced at gunpoint to enter police cars," Latifah told The Jakarta Post.

The IPWP was launched with the aim of revising the 1969 Act of Free Choice, or Pepera referendum, calling it unfair because it was based on a representative system rather than the one-person-one-vote principle.

However, not all Papuans support the IPWP, with three prominent Papuan chieftains -- Amandus Mabel, Dasik Asso and Jimmi Asso from the Central Mountain Range area -- saying Papua's choice to be a part of Indonesia was already final.

"There was no such thing as the establishment of an international caucus for West Papua in London. It was just an issue created by an irresponsible group aiming to destabilize
Papua," Jimmi told the local Cenderawasih Pos newspaper published Monday.

In Jakarta, Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono said he had not been informed yet about recent events in Papua, in which Free Papua Movement (OPM) supporters reportedly held separatist activities over the last two days.

"All I know is the Office of the Coordinating Minister of Political, Legal and Security Affairs is currently handling it," Juwono said Monday at the House.

He called on the public not to label all activities in Papua as separatist acts.

"Don't correlate every activity there as something that will lead to disturbances," he said.

Theo L. Sambuaga, chairman of the House's Commission I overseeing defense, information, foreign and political affairs, said the protest would be sent to the British Embassy in Jakarta on Monday evening.

"We can't accept any efforts to support such a separatist movement, because it indicates foreign intervention in our country's affairs," he said.

"The House will also bring the case to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which has stated it will not tolerate any separatist movement."

Dismissing the fact the caucus was supported by only two British MPs -- Andrew Smith and Lord Harries -- legislator Abdillah Toha said such partial support could lead to a bigger movement.

"The government must be aware of 'small waves' because they can turn into bigger ones," he said.

National Development Party (PPP) legislator Ali Mudatsir said the government had always been weak in responding to such issues.

"The government must take a firm stance because this has to do with our sovereignty," he said.

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