- The Washington Times - Friday, May 3, 2002

JAKARTA, Indonesia A human rights group says it has obtained documentary evidence linking the Indonesian military with East Timor-style militias in Papua province.
ELS-HAM, the Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy, says it suspects a document, dated April 8, reflects a wider strategy to step up anti-independence activity and provoke violence in the province, formerly known as Irian Jaya.
"I'm worried. I'm very, very worried," said John Rumbiak, supervisor of ELS-HAM, a respected Papuan human rights agency.
A pro-independence leader, Theys Eluay, was killed in the province in November and three members of the army's Kopassus special force were detained in the case. But on Monday, a government-appointed investigative team said a total of six soldiers were involved.
Indonesia rejects any talk of independence for Papua, which is home to Freeport-McMoRan, an American company mining the world's largest gold reserves and third-largest copper deposits.
The three-page document obtained by ELS-HAM, and seen by The Washington Times, contains the names of 80 farmers who are listed as "Satgas Merah Putih candidates" from a village near Wamena in the highlands of Indonesia's easternmost province, which borders Papua New Guinea. The document is signed by the commander of the Wamena military district, or Kodim.
Satgas Merah Putih Red and White Task Force is named for the colors of Indonesia's flag.
After examining the document, the Indonesian military said it is simply a tool for the local commander.
"He must have demographic data, and one of the forces there is Satgas Merah Putih," Lt. Col. Achmad Yani said. A day earlier, before seeing the document, he denied the Satgas existed.
Echoing language used by the Indonesian military in discussing militias in East Timor in advance of the 1999 referendum on independence there, Lt. Yani said Satgas Merah Putih emerged from among the local population.
"The local military commander didn't create it," he said.
East Timor is preparing for full independence next month. Ahead of the referendum, militia created and backed by the Indonesian military began a campaign of terror that escalated after the vote.


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