|Subject: Col Siagian warns against the use
of separatist symbols
Indonesia: Army's cozying up to militias concerns cleric
Jakarta, 27 July (AKI) - A church leader in Indonesia's secessionist Papua region says the increasingly close ties between the military and pro-government militias are cause for concern.
Reverend Socratez Yoman of the Baptist Church said that in recent weekends the commander of Jakarta's troops in the region colonel Burhanuddin Siagian, had held several meetings with militia leaders.
"These meetings represent a threat for us because they are aimed at intimidating the pacifist pro-independence movement", Yoman told Adnkronos International (AKI). He said he knew of meetings between Siagian and representatives from four pro-government militias - Meriah Putih, Pemuda Pancasila Youth, Pramukas and Panca Marga Youth.
Jakarta annexed Papua following a 1969 referendum widely believed to have been rigged in favour of the region's incorporation into Indonesia. Since then activists have campaigned peacefully for secession.
In a recent newspaper interview Siagian warned that the army would not tolerate secessionist sentiments.
"What is absolutely certain is that anyone who tends towards separatism will be crushed by the TNI (the Indonesian military)", he was quoted as saying by the Cenderwasih Post.
"In the interests of the NKRI (Republic of Indonesia), we are not afraid of human rights. We are quite prepared to imprison anyone, or dismiss them from their posts, whenever such [an action] is in the interests of the NKRI", he said.
Activist have accused Siagian of human rights abuses in East Timor during the 1999 referendum which eventually led to that nation's independence from Indonesia.
"The colonel is using the same tactics he used in East Timor even if this time he could be aiming to kill our spirits instead of our bodies", Yoman said.
Cenderawasih Pos, 13 July 2007 Slightly abridged (Clipping just received)
Military commender tells his men to 'Anticipate Separatists'
With the regional assembly (DPRP) now preparing to issue a regulation about cultural symbols, such as the Morning Star, the song Hai Tanahku Papua some time this month, the Commander of Korem 172/PWY, Colonel Burhaniddin Siagian, said that the DPRP and the MRP should 'act wisely' bearing in mind that the Morning Star flag, Tanahku Papua and the Mambruk bird symbol were not regional cultural symbols but symbols of separatism. A wrong decision would not be good for the unity of the Republic of Indonesia.
He said he had plenty of proof that the Morning Star flag is a symbol of rebellion. It was flown in a number of places on 1 July 2007 on the anniversary of the OPM (Free Papua Movement). On those occasions, the text of the declaration of West Papuan independence was also read out.
'I think there are plenty of regional symbols that can be used by the Papuans as Papua is rich in symbols, but dont use symbols that have been used by separatists.'
He said that in anticipation of developments threatening the unity of the Republic, he would allow no space for the separatists to grow anywhere in Papua, whether in ideas or other forms.
'The Morning Star flag is clearly the separatists' flag. They should not be given the opportunity to fly the flag in Papua. The only flag that may be flown is the red-and-white flag,' he said.
Police should act firmly
In connection with the current interrogation of members of Dewan Adat Papua in relation to the unfurling of the Morning Star flag at the Sports Stadium, the commander expressed the hope that the police will take firm action to deal with the flag raising incident. If they fail to act firmly, this would embolden Papuans to use separatist symbols.
The unfurling of the Morning Star flag represents a threat to the integrity of the Republic and requires firm action , especially bearing in mind that the conference did not discuss cultural matters but tended towards politics. They should have concentrated on cultural matters such as the status of women under customary traditions, inheritance, the way to resolve conflicts and how to protect Papuan traditions, not politics; still less should they have flown the separatist flag.
'Dont let them trick us because we cannot be tricked. A separatist symbol is a separatist symbol. The TNI (Indonesian armed forces) is ready to crush their movement.'
On the same occasion, the Kodim commander, Lt Colonel A,H, Napoleon, spoke of recent developments in the district of Jayapura, in particular the visit by irresponsible groups who took actions that were a threat to the country's integrity. He ordered the lower military commanders, the danramil and babinsa to do their bit., to direct the people in their areas towards defending the NKRI, in particular to get involved in activities that are inspired by nationalism. 'I also hope that the military commanders will support the policy of the governor in developing the kampungs, so as to promote the welfare of the people.