Now Irian Jaya wants to hold Aceh-style rally

Up to 15,000 from all parts of the province will take to the streets on Friday to press for separation in a trial run for a massive Aceh-style rally.

A NEW pressure point will surface on Friday when thousands in Irian Jaya are expected to rally in a demonstration to demand independence from Indonesia.

Up to 15,000 students, intellectuals and villagers from all parts of the resource-rich province will take to the streets in the capital of Jayapura to press for separation in what organisers say will be a “trial run” for a more massive Aceh-style rally three weeks down the road.

“It will be a warning to the central government to listen to the demands of the people in Irian Jaya, who have endured more than 30 years of control by Indonesia,” said Mr Yorris Rawayei, the Jakarta representative of the West Papuan Council Assembly, which is organising the demonstration.

“On Dec 1 this year, the West Papuan flag will be all over Irian Jaya,” he said.

“We are seizing the momentum begun by the Acehnese to put pressure on the government to meet our demands.” Mr Yorris told The Straits Times yesterday that, unlike in Aceh, most of Irian Jaya’s two million residents were not interested in a referendum to decide on their fate.

“Independence is the only thing on the people’s minds now,” he said. “Why talk about a referendum when we have already tasted what it is like to be independent?”

He disclosed that the West Papuan Council had prepared “basic guidelines” and a Constitution for an independent state and would soon send these to United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan as part of efforts to seek backing from the international community.

The former Dutch colony enjoyed a brief spell of independence in 1961 before becoming part of Indonesia a year later. Since then, Jakarta and the Indonesian armed forces (TNI) have faced low-level armed rebellions from the secessionist Free Papua Movement.

Mr Yorris said he was summoned yesterday to meet Lt-General Tyasno Sudarto, chief of the military intelligence agency, to give assurances that Friday’s rally would be peaceful.

In a separate development, police have imposed a curfew from 10 pm to 4.30 am in the Irian Jaya city of Fakfak after the resignation of district chief Colonel Suparlan Pasambuna.

The Antara national news agency quoted Fakfak deputy police chief Captain J. Kalembang as saying the decision was made at a meeting of council leaders “to prevent provocateurs and new riots from taking place”.

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