14 Jul 2008

PNG Govt minister calls for border to be closed over Indonesian incursions

8:49 pm on 14 July 2008

A senior Papua New Guinea government minister has called for the country's border with Indonesia to be closed until the issue of border incursions by Indonesian soldiers is addressed.

Forestry Minister Belden Namah has just visited the border area in his Vanimo Green electorate where locals have reported frequent incursions by Indonesian military or TNI in recent months.

Mr Namah says he saw evidence of such incursions and learnt from local villagers how TNI have harassed them about being on Indonesian territory.

The minister says that such actions threaten PNG's sovereignty, and he plans urging the government executive to close the border as an interim measure.

"My people, their lives are at risk and it's real. Because I went there yesterday myself and physically confirmed a battalion had crossed over. They actually painted the border mark that was made for them to recognise that there is a border, they painted on the cement their battalion's number: 408. My people are living in fear."

Belden Namah says high level talks with Indonesia over border security must be prioritised.