5 Dec 2002

Papuan leader accused seven people arrested for trying to create conflict as dissidents

11:22 am on 5 December 2002

A Papuan leader says seven people arrested at the weekend allegedly for planning to create conflict in the Indonesian province during its independence commemoration, were Papuans recruited by extreme militant religious groups.

Willie Mandowen, who is a peace mediator for the Papua Council, says it is believed they were part of a group of 30 Papuans who had received militia training by extremist groups in a remote region of Papua.

He says Papua Presidum leaders are going around the communities to dissuade Papuans from joining extreme militant groups.

"we have discussed this with the police....apart from our ideological differences, we work together to secure Papua as a peaceful zone...From the political decision Papua Presidium Council and the traditional council leaders we have made announcements to ensure that Papuans refrain from these propagandas and penetrations of militia activities..."

Willie Mandowen also says that he has visited the 16 people held in police custody for flying the separatist Morning Star Flag during the weekend despite instructions by Papuan leaders not to.

He says so far they are safe but they are concerned about Police trying to connect them with the seven arrested.