18 Mar 2004

Reports of mounting tension in Indonesia's Papua province

4:39 pm on 18 March 2004

There are reports that tensions are rising in Indonesia's Papua province in the run up to elections next month.

The secretary of the Australian West Papua association, Joe Collins, says people just returned from the region have told of increasing fear there after the recent killing of OPM organiser Leo Warisman.

He was accused by the Indonesian Army of planning to attack polling booths during the elections.

Mr Collins says people in Papua are worried that the election-related build-up of troops will lead to further killings.

"Two new battalions have arrived to stop tension in the province during the election but the more military in the province the more likely there is going to be destabilisation and human rights abuses."

The secretary of the Australian West Papua association, Joe Collins.

Meanwhile, the Catholic organisation Franciscans International has presented a report to the UN Commission on Human Rights saying it is gravely concerned about the arrival in West Papua of Eurico Guterres, who it says was instrumental in organising terror attacks in East Timor before it gained independence.