30 Jan 2003

PNG Catholic church rejects reports of links with visit to rebels

4:57 pm on 30 January 2003

The Catholic Church in Papua New Guinea's border province Sandaun is denying reports that it facilitated a meeting between officials from Australia, Indonesia and Papuan separatist rebels.

Sam Mesembe from the Vanimo diocese says Australian and Indonesia officials recently visited the church's only transmitter camp for those who fled Papua's violence in 2000.

This comes after the Sandaun Administrator, Joseph Sungi, said that he was concerned over reports of the church helping foreign mission officials meet the OPM rebels.

But Mr Mesembe says the church has nothing to do with the rebesl.

"The Catholic Diocese of Vanimo is only looking after a camp and that is the Transmitter-Bordercrossers' camp which is under the care of the diocese and the diocese has nothing to do with any other camps outside the Transmitter-Bordercrossers' camp, nothing."

Sam Mesembe