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US blamed for rights violations in Papua

Jakarta Post - April 17, 2002

R.K. Nugroho, Jayapura – The students of state-run Cenderawasih University in Jayapura, Irian Jaya, lodged a petition on Tuesday that the United States of America be held responsible for the prevalent human rights abuses in province since the territory's integration into Indonesia in 1963.

The petition was lodged by student delegates, led by Stevan Kambuaya, in a meeting with visiting US Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce and his entourage at the university campus near Jayapura.

Hundreds of students held a peaceful demonstration outside the meeting venue to protest the province's integration into Indonesia.

"The United States of America should be held responsible for the human rights abuses, including the killing of charismatic Papuan tribal leader Theys Hiyo Eluway following its full support for the province's integration into Indonesia," said Kambuaya.

He said all Papuan students rejected the undemocratic referendum on the province's integration and called for a democratic one to allow the Papuan people to determine their own future.

The students called on the US government to take the initiative to set up an international inquiry into Theys' murder. At least three teams from the local police, the Indonesian Military and the central government were established to investigate Theys' murder but, so far, no one has been held responsible. The police and military teams have given the indication that the local military was involved in the killing.

Theys' body was found in a village bordering Papua New Guinea on Nov. 11, 2001, a day after he attended the celebration of Heroes Day at the housing compound of the Army's Special Force (Kopassus) in the city. Aristoteles Masoka who drove Theys to the celebration is still missing.

Boyce declined to respond to the petition and called on the students not to give him political statements because his visit was aimed at observing the development program in the province.

The ambassador said he and his government appreciated the special autonomy for the province and the Papuan people's political aspirations to be freed from coercion, intimidation and backwardness. According to him, the special autonomy is a golden opportunity for the local people to achieve a better future.

He also said the US government would continue to provide financial assistance to help accelerate the development program, especially in the field of education and health.

In a meeting with local officials on Monday, Boyce reiterated Washington's political stance on the province's integration with Indonesia, saying that his government would never support the secessionist movement in the province.Before moving to the city, the ambassador and his entourage also visited the American copper and gold mining company PT Freeport Indonesia in Timika.