22 Dec 2004

Papuan groups call on Indonesia to end military operations

4:31 pm on 22 December 2004

A coalition of 33 church groups and NGOs in the Indonesian province of Papua says President Yudhoyono must end a military operation underway in Puncak Jaya or risk the region becoming increasingly unstable and torn by conflict.

The coalition says the military has displaced more than 6,000 people in the highlands region since August and caused at least 23 people, mainly children and babies, to die of starvation..

The displaced people, who fled into the bush after their houses were burned down and livestock destroyed, have been denied access to their food gardens and to medicines.

The coalition says the Puncak Jaya region is a test case for the fledgling government.

It says President Yudhoyono must end the military action and open the area to humanitarian groups; allow food and medical supplies to be provided; and allow for the investigation of the military's excesses.

The coalition says the President must also restore some sense of certainty and just treatment to the lives of the indigenous people.