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Papuans want to call in UN negotiators

UN involvement only way to end violence, says leader

Papuans want to call in UN negotiators
Lambert Pekikir, chief of Free Papua Movement
Ryan Dagur, Jakarta

February 28, 2013

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The head of the main Papuan independence movement says conflict in Papua can only be resolved with UN involvement.

“Problems in Papua must not only be resolved by Papuans and the Indonesian government,” Lambert Pekikir, commander of the National Liberation Army of the Free Papua Movement (TPN-OPM) told on Thursday.

TPN-OPM believes the handover of then-West New Guinea by the Netherlands to Indonesia in 1969 resulted in unfair management of natural resources and human rights abuses by security personnel. It does not recognize the sovereignty of the Indonesian government in Papua.

“I am sure the Indonesian government has a hidden agenda. The United Nations must get involved and serve as mediator,” he said. “The United Nations must be responsible for problems faced by Papuans because it played its part in the integration."

Father Johanes Djonga, an activist priest who received the 2009 Yap Thiam Hien Award, said UN involvement would be good.

According to him, Papuans have bitter experience about the way the Indonesian government deals with conflicts in the area.

“This military approach creates hatred, which has become bigger. It seems that conflicts are maintained. On the other hand, there is no significant change in terms of people’s welfare,” he said.

On February 21, approximately 20 men armed with guns and machetes attacked a group of 10 soldiers heading to Sinak Ilaga Airport in Papua's Puncak district. Seven soldiers and four construction workers were killed.

An hour earlier a soldier was killed when gunmen stormed an army post in Tingginambut, in Puncak Jaya district.

“Similar attacks will happen in the near future if there is no serious effort to resolve the problems,” Pekikir said.

The TPN-OPM claimed responsibly for the recent attacks.

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