17 Jan 2013

PNG/Indonesia border incident

2:36 pm on 17 January 2013

Reports from Papua New Guinea say there has been an altercation between disgruntled Sandaun villagers and Indonesian soldiers along the border.

The Post- Courier says people from Wutung in West Sepik Province tried to forcefully lower the Indonesian flag at the Bartas market, but were stopped by armed Indonesian soldiers.

The Bartas market, which hundreds of Papua New Guineans frequent every year, appears to be a point of contention as according to international law the 10-kilometre buffer zone between the Indonesian and PNG border should be free of infrastructure.

However, observers have noted that the Indonesian border post and the Bartas market were built within the buffer zone.

The same group of villagers reportedly also tried to burn down an Indonesian lighthouse but were also stopped by the Indonesian troops.

A ban allegedly imposed by Indonesia on traditional border-crossers also appears to be a contributing factor as the villagers complained that they could not go to their gardens.

There have been no official comments.