3 Jun 2002

Papua Presidium Council opposes Indonesian troop deployment

8:46 am on 3 June 2002

A senior member of the Papua Presidium Council has spoken out against the dispatch of Indonesian elite troops in the province.

The Reverend Herman Awom of the Council says there is no valid reason for the military to send in such troops because no rebel stronghold exists to warrant using such a force.

He says the deployment is an act of intimidation following the Papuans' public rejection of the results of an Indonesain inquiry into last November's murder of the pro-independence leader and Presidium chairman, Theys Eluay.

The Reverend Awom also warns that with the depolyment of militant Muslim groups in the mainly Christian province, Papua may become the next Maluku which has been wracked by sectarian violence.

He says human rights group and the provincial legislature have joined forces to work on a bill seeking to protect Papuans against military brutality.