Subject: AFP: E. Timor should be example for West Papua: spokesman
Date: Sat, 20 Feb 1999 09:06:57 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

*East Timor should be example for West Papua: spokesman

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 18 (AFP) - Indonesia's offer of independence to East Timor after 20 years should set an example for Irian Jaya, West Papua, a spokesman for a pro-independence movement said Thursday.

John Ondawame, international spokesman for the Free Papua Movement, told reporters "we would like to see the Indonesian government's new policy towards East Timor be repeated again in West Papua."

Jakarta's sudden change of position on East Timor last month "is a positive direction towards some sort of political change in East Timor, as well as, we hope, in West Papua," he said.

Irian Jaya's Free Papua Movement has been fighting for an independent West Papua state in the former Dutch colony of Western New Guinea since it became an Indonesian province in 1963.

But unlike the situation in East Timor, where the United Nations continues to recognize Portugal as the administering power, the United Nations recognized Indonesia's sovereignty over Irian Jaya in 1969.

Two weeks ago Jakarta, in a surprise move, offered independence to East Timor, which like Irian Jaya is beset by separatist violence, if wide-ranging autonomy proposals are turned down.

"We believe in a peaceful process," said Ondawame, adding that "the political status of West Papua should be discussed widely" among the people in the state and the Indonesian government.

Ondawame is in the United States to raise public awareness about the fate of the two million people of Irian Jaya.

He said that he wanted to inform the US public about human rights abuses by multinational companies acting in cooperation with the Indonesian military.

Ondawame, who is based in Australia, met with the UN's permanent representatives in New York and planned to see US congressional and state department representatives in Washington.

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