A smoldering civil unrest has troubled the eastern Indonesian province of Irian Jaya for Christians and others caught in the war between a growing independence movement and the Jakarta government.
December 1 is one of the most restless days of all—the date Papuans celebrate the independence of their province, Irian Jaya—often a bitter celebration because West Papua, as they call it, is still part of Indonesia.
The tense day passed peacefully, with large crowds restraining themselves from flying their flag or acting in loud or boisterous manner to provoke Indonesian police.
Surveyed by hundreds of heavily armed police and military units, Irian Jaya's previously vocal independence movement appeared silenced under the heavy security in the provincial capital of Jayapura. The main resistance organization, Papuan Presidium Council, seems to be coming apart without its four top leaders who were arrested by police this week. At least two have been charged with subversion against the Indonesian state.
"We are limited in what we can do and say," senior activist Willy Mandowen told the Associated Press. "The police said they will intervene if we make political statements. We don't want violence. We don't want them to intervene."
Many Christians have been worried about the possiblity of more violence on Dec. 1 after the massacre of Indonesians and many Christians last month, according to Rev. Bangun Manurung, pastor of the Bethel Church of Indonesia, in Jayapura. Manurung is one of many non-Papuan Christians who live in Irian Jaya. A controversial transmigration program began by the Jakarta government in the 1970s has resettled thousands of residents of other Indonesian islands in Irian Jaya.
Indonesia's de facto annexation of the western ...1
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