National

Amnesty officials expelled
from Papua


R.K. Nugroho and Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, The Jakarta Post, Jayapura/Jakarta

The government has expelled two members of human rights organization Amnesty International from Irian Jaya for illegally investigating the mysterious death of Papuan separatist leader Theys Hiyo Eluay.

The government argued the two-member team violated their visa which was intended for ""socio-cultural travel"" to Indonesia.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs acting spokesman Wahid Supriyadi said the Indonesian government never aimed to deport the team, but since it breached immigration regulations it must leave Irian Jaya.

""The Amnesty International team came to Indonesia by applying for a socio-cultural visa and on the application form they stated that the trip was limited to Java and Sumatra,"" he told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

""But, the team went to Irian Jaya and furthermore conducted a probe into the death of Theys. Our office has simply notified them (Amnesty) about the mistake and they decided to withdraw the team from the province,"" Wahid added.

He said any international organization must comply with Indonesia's immigration laws should it want to make a visit to the troubled areas such as Irian Jaya and Aceh.

""They (Amnesty) should have sent a proposal to us for a special visa for the investigation. I believe every country will do exactly the same thing against anybody found violating the visa regulations.""

The team's two members -- Lucia Withers and Signe Poulsen -- had left Irian Jaya on Jan. 29, 10 days after their arrival. They were scheduled to leave on Jan. 5. It was not clear whether the team was still in Indonesia or not.

Jhon Rumbiak, leader of the Irian Jaya-based Ell-Sham legal aid and advocacy body that facilitated the team's visit, confirmed the pair had to cut short the 15-day visit at the orders of the foreign affairs ministry.

""The repatriation of the two delegates was due to a misunderstanding on their working visit,"" Rumbiak said.

Local sources said that during the visit, the team investigated the murder of Theys and other human rights abuses that took place in Jayapura, Wamena and Manokwari.

The team once attended the trial of three leaders of the rebel Papua Council Presidium (PDP) charged with subversion. Prosecutors have demanded that they be each sentenced to 30 months in prison.

In their trial on Monday, a team of 22 lawyers acting for the three defendants told the Jayapura District Court to acquit them of all charges, arguing the prosecutors' demands were irrational.

""The demanded sentences should have been differentiated according to the alleged crime committed by each of the defendants,"" Anton Raharusun, one of the lawyers, told the Post.

He said the prosecutors, led by Syamsu Alam, were not serious in dealing with the case because under the criminal code the subversion charge carried a maximum death penalty or 20 years in jail.

""The demand for lenient sentences shows that subversion charges against the defendants are legally and convincingly not proven,"" Anton added.

Meanwhile, a 12-member team from the Indonesian Military arrived in Jayapura on Monday to begin its inquiry into the murder of Theys, which allegedly involved soldiers.

The team led by Military Police Commander Maj. Gen. Djasri Marin immediately held meetings with local military and police leaders.

Marin said his team would question all troops suspected of involvement in the alleged killing of the top PDP leader on Nov. 11. ""We will summon them one by one,"" he told the press in Jayapura.

He declined to reveal which military force the suspected troops belong to. Many officials and people have alleged that members of the Army's elite force Kopassus had a role in the murder.

Army Chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto has said that witness testimony has indicated the possible involvement of members of Kopassus in the murder of Theys.

The team is expected to also question all witnesses who have already been interviewed by local police.

The government has decided to set up an independent team to investigate the murder following mounting pressure from pro-independence activists. But its establishment remains unclear.

Theys was abducted prior to his death by an unidentified group as he drove home from a Heroes' Day celebrations hosted by the Kopassus on Nov. 9 in Jayapura.

His driver escaped and reported the abduction, which he said was carried out by non-Papuan people. He has since disappeared.

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