16 Sep 2002

Army buildup in Indonesia's Papua makes life difficult for local villagers

4:31 pm on 16 September 2002

A Papua Human Rights group says tension is high around the Freeport Mine area because of a military buildup.

John Rumbiak of Elsham says the army is restricting the movements of villagers living near the Freeport Mine.

He says Freeport workers have been heavily guarded by army troops since an ambush near Timika late last month which left two Americans and an Indonesian dead.

The army has blamed the Free Papua Movement, the OPM, for the attack.

The organisation has rejected the claim.

Over the weekend, there were more shootings near the mine.

Papua's Police Chief, Major General Made Pastika, says a car containing four soldiers was shot at on Saturday, leaving one of the men slightly injured.

Mr Rumbiak says locals are banned from travelling outside their villages while security checks are made on Freeport workers.

"The employees of Freeport have to line up everyday, taking hours, and they have to go through a convoy heavily guarded by the military. The local villagers are finding difficult to move around, they are banned from travelling, walking to their gardens or hunting."

John Rumbiak in Indonesia's Papua province.