4 Jul 2003

Papua separatists doubt Indonesian surrender claim

3:53 pm on 4 July 2003

The Free Papua or OPM Movement has cast doubt on claims by Indonesian authorities that one of its regional commanders and his guerrilla group have voluntarily surrendered in Papua.

Police in the provincial capital Jayapura say 42 OPM members led by the operational commander Bernadus Papiri surrendered earlier this week.

The OPM's international spokesperson, John Ondawame, says details of the surrender need to be verified because it seems unlikely that any OPM guerrilla would submit so easily.

"The OPM wouldn't surrender at this time. Since the issue of West Papua has become known and the public opinion in the world is shifting slowly no OPM would like to surrender at this time. We don't have any signs of the OPM guerrillas want to surrender - it's nonsense."

John Ondawame says it's not unusual for the Indonesian military to stage fake surrenders by OPM rebels.

He also says Papiri's family may have been threatened to force him to give himself up.

Police say the rebels handed over 234 guns, and over 16-hundred rounds of ammunition, 56 hand grenades and 11 handmade bombs.