31 Jul 2002

OPM members told not to react against military buildup

10:44 am on 31 July 2002

There are calls by Papuans to members of the Free Papua Movement to either leave the province or not retaliate against Indonesia's military buildup against separatists.

Rex Rumakiek, the United Nations lobbyist for the Papua Presidium Council says community and non government organisations are concerned that the OPM's militant arm will retaliate against the buildup.

Mr Rumakiek says retaliation against the TNI troops will give the Indonesian government an excuse to rescind Papua's special autonomy status.

He says Papuans fearful of an armed conflict want assurances from pro-independence members that they will not retaliate and that they will help maintain the province's fragile peace.

"Community leaders have been going through the jungle to find the OPM people and persuade them to move away or not to respond to the military threat. Community organisations, churches and migrants are peaceful at the moment. There is noone talking about violence. It is only the military and the police who are constantly talking about violence in Papua."

Rex Rumakiek