17 Dec 2004

Papuan protestors present plea calling for Jakarta to end Punchak Jaya military action

4:28 pm on 17 December 2004

Hundreds of students and activists in the Indonesian province of Papua are protesting outside the provincial parliament calling for an end to what they say is an intensifying military campaign in the Highlands.

They are now meeting with members of the provincial government to present their call that President Yudhoyono call off a planned visit at Christmas unless he orders the withdrawal of the military.

Church reports say that in the Highlands around Punchak Jaya, at least 23 people have died of starvation in recent weeks, and up to six thousand people have been displaced during a military offensive against the separatist OPM.

Dr Benny Giay, coordinator of an NGO called the Bureau of Peace and Justice, says villagers fled into the jungle after their houses were burned down and the military is denying them access to their food gardens.

The protestors say President Yudhoyono should not go to Jayapura unless he orders the military action to end, allows the refugees to return home and provides aid for them.