30 Mar 2009

Military build-up is no solution to West Papua's problems, says religious leader

4:24 pm on 30 March 2009

A West Papua religious leader and academic says the recent spate of killings in Puncak Jaya regency highlight the urgent need for dialogue between Indonesia and West Papuan representatives.

Indonesian military troops have recently launched new operations in parts of the remote Papua region such as Puncak Jaya, the stronghold of the Free West Papua Movement, or OPM.

Police say at least three Indonesians, including a soldier, have been killed in suspected attacks by the OPM in the district over the past month.

Father Neles Tebay of the Catholic Diocese of Jayapura says the military shouldn't use the killings as justification for increasing its presence in the area.

"I do think that deploying more troops or conducting military operations is not a proper solution to the conflict because this conflict, this is an expression of (the) unsettled political case in West Papua. And that political dimension should be settled. And that political dimension will not settle through deploying more troops, through conducting military operations."