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Suyanto: TNI still keeping on guard against OPM

Tempo Interactive - July 31, 2006

Dimas Adityo, Jakarta – The Indonesian military (TNI) will continue to keep on guard against the Free Papua Movement (OPM) groups that are still exist in the Papuan interior, even though several members surrendered to the government late last week.

“The next measure is that vigilance must be maintained”, said TNI commander in Chief Marshal Djoko Suyanto when contacted by Tempo yesterday. Maintaining vigilance said Suyanto does not mean TNI troops will be pursuing the groups that still exist. “We are no longer on the offensive in terms of conducting military operations to pursue them”, he said.

Rather, the steps being taken by TNI troops in Papua at the moment are to make approaches to the members of OPM groups that are still in the mountains to return to society. “We are inviting them to come down to the villages, more in the direction of social activities, so no longer through military operations”, said Suyanto.

According to Suyanto, the TNI’s policy of no longer conducting military operations to pursue OPM separatists has been applied for several years now. “This has been the case since [the time of] Pak Tarto (former TNI chief Endriartono Sutarto)”, he said.

Suyanto said that the military strength of the OPM groups who are still in the mountains is now minimal. “In any single group there is less than 10 people”, he said. They are spread among several groups in the villages far in the interior.

Likewise is the case with regard to the weapons they posses. Although they still have them its is not very strong. “Like those who surrendered last week they only had homemade weapons”, he said.

[Translated by James Balowski.]

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