10 Aug 2005

Papua activists plan rally but hope to avoid clash with Indonesian troops

7:18 pm on 10 August 2005

Activists planning a rally for self-determination in the Indonesian province of Papua say they're not trying to provoke a confrontation.

Papuan leaders say they'll hand back the documents of Indonesia's 2001 Special Autonomy Law, sending them in packets back to Jakarta as part of a staged event in the regional capital, Jayapura, on August the 15th.

The activists say they don't plan to raise their illegal banner, the Papuan flag, since it might incite a response from security forces.

John Ondawame of the Vanuatu-based Free Papua Movement says Indonesia already began its retaliation when the leaders decided on the move earlier this year.

"The Manokwari tribal council meeting already decide to return the packets, the packets to Jakarta. This already provoke the Jakarta, and the Jakarta now deploy huge number of military particularly in the strategic regions."

Dr Ondawame says these regions are Timika, Sorong, Biak and along the border with Papua New Guinea.

He claims their presence threatens local people, especially in the absence of international peacekeepers.