Thursday, June 4, 2009

West Papua: Buchtar Tabuni denies KNPB is involved in recent acts of violence

Abridged translation by TAPOL
Cenderawasih Pos, 4 June 2009
Claims made by the secretary-general of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), Demus Wenda, that the KNPB was responsible for acts of violence during the period from January to May 2009 have been strongly denied Buchtar Tabuni, the chairman of the KNPB.
The actions referred to include the attack on the Abepura police station just prior to the April election, the occupation of the Kapeso airstrip, the fire at the Cenderawasih University Rector's office and attacks on a group of peasants in Tanah Hitam a few days ago.
Buchtar told journalists that the statement made by Demus Wenda has nothing to do with the organisation and was issued without his knowledge. Buchtar also said he does not know anyone called Demus Wenda.
Buchtar made this statement to journalists in the company of his lawyer defending him in court. [Buchtar is facing charges of subversion for organising a demonstration on 16 October last, to welcome the establishment of International Parliamentarians for West Papua, in London.] He said that the KNPB was set up to organise protests against government policies which fail to benefit the common people.
He said that KNPB is not connected in any way with other organisations such as the OPM. If the OPM is involved in these actions, then they must take responsibility. His organisation wants to support the struggle of ordinary people who are dissatisfied with government policies.
Although Buchtar is currently in custody and unable to follow closely developments outside, he reckons that there are other forces behind statement made by Demus Wenda. Whether it is the OPM or someone else, he does not know.
The programme of the KNPB is to use democratic means and to avoid acts of violence.
Buchtar's lawyer, Iwan Niode, explained that the KNPB was set up by students in 2008, particularly those forced to leave (meaning here unclear). The latest developments seem to be aimed at implicating the organisation, leading eventually to its being banned and to the arrest of its activists. People playing this game are giving legitimacy to possible actions by the police to disband the organisation. He said also that he feared the developments would be harmful to his client who is now on trial, with the verdict fast approaching. 'The verdict of the court could well be influenced by these events,' he said.
He said that the proceedings in court should be allowed to reach their conclusion.
Markus Haluk, sec-general of the Central Highlands Students Association, who has been closely following the trial, expressed the same opinion.
'Demus Wenda claims to have the mandate of the TPN/OPM. When did he get that mandate and who issued it? We are being implicated and in the end we will all be arrested,' he said. He thought that there was another agenda at work, prior to the election - trying to have an impact on public opinion. 'If people wanted to undermine the election, they should have taken the matter to the Electoral Commission in Jakarta.
He called on people not to be provoked by all this.

Posted via email from Sem Karoba's Posterous

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