18 November 2017
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  • » 11/10/2017, 10.22


    East Papua, 1300 inhabitants hostage to the OPM separatists

    They are prevented from entering or leaving two small communities. About 700 Indonesian armed soldiers control the situation. The villages are near an important copper mine, the scene of recent shootings. The guerrillas try to interrupt the extraction operations. The government engaged in talks with local leaders to end the crisis. 

    Jayapura (AsiaNews / Agencies) - About 1,300 residents of two villages in the eastern province of Papua New Guinea are detained by some twenty Free Movement activists (OPM), armed group protagonist of a long-term insurgency for independence of region. This is what the Indonesian Security Forces say, as they try to put an end to the stalemate.

    The villagers have been isolated for two days and cannot leave their small communities, but so far they have not suffered any damage. The authorities say that at present about 700 Indonesian armed military are controlling the situation. Victor Dean Macbon, head of the local police, said: "We have not yet forced our entry into the villages because we do not want people to be hurt."

    The villages are located near an important mining estate owned by US firm Freeport-McMoRan's Copper & Gold (Fmcg). The copper mine has recently been the scene of a series of shootouts. At the end of October, one of them caused the death of a policeman.

    Since the annexation to Indonesia in the 1960s, a low-profile insurrection has been underway in Papua. The Freeport mine is often a focal point in the struggle for independence, as it represents a large share of the region's resources. Jakarta has long held a close eye on the territory, with a heavy use of military and police.

    Government officials today said they are in discussions with local and community religious leaders in an attempt to put an end to the clash. Suarez Diaz, a spokeswoman for the Papua Police, said the group was trying to stop operations at the nearby mine and asked the police not to intervene.

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    See also

    Controversy over the opening of Papua separatist bureau in the Netherlands
    After Oxford, the OPM opens a bureau in the Netherlands. A former Dutch colony, the western half of the island of Papua has pitted Jakarta against separatists for decades, partly because of its mineral resources.

    26/05/2015 INDONESIA
    Widowo relaxes security measures in Papua, announces pardon for political prisoners
    Journalists, especially foreign ones, will be able to visit Indonesia’s easternmost provinces, a decision initially opposed by the country’s military and police. The Indonesian president also expressed his intention to pardon political prisoners. However, most are refusing, calling instead for an amnesty.

    13/08/2013 INDONESIA
    Papua: soldier damage St Mary Magdalene Parish Church
    Special Forces carried out an operation against arms trafficking for the local independence movement. The desecration took place at the end of a Sunday Mass. Catholics are surprised and bewildered by the insult. A search in the building yielded no weapons.

    24/08/2017 17:07:00 INDONESIA
    Jakarta and Freeport agree on Papua mine, save jobs

    A dispute between Indonesia and US giant FMCG ends. Under new legislation, at least 51 per cent mining companies in Indonesia must be in Indonesian hands. FMCG had threated to end operations with job losses. Now it can operate its Papua mine until 2041, and build a new smelter.

    The plight of Papua refugees, "second-class citizens" forgotten by the world
    The Iowara camp hosts refugees from West Papua, who fled strife in the Indonesian province in the 1990s. After nearly 30 years, they are still without citizenship or freedom of movement, ostensibly abandoned by those who were supposed to care for them. On the ground, "The Catholic Church is now virtually left alone to cater at least for health and education". What follows is the story of a Verbite priest, involved for decades in trying to help the refugees' situation.

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    Li Yuan

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