‘It is as though there is a war here,’ says local leader

Statue erected to celebrate the inclusion of W...
Photo of Yos Sudarso, pointing to PNG and Australia as his next targets, in Jayapura erected by Indonesia to celebrate the invasion of West Papua
JUBI: 24 March 2012

The Ondoafi – local community leader – of Web which is located in Keerom district , Bernadus Welip, has spoken out about the presence of many military posts in his area as well as along the border (between West Papua and PNG) and said that  it is as if there is a war going on.

‘There are a great many army posts in my region which amazes me. Does this mean that there is a war here?’

He said that the presence of the military has made the people there feel very uneasy indeed. The people here cannot move around freely from one kampung to another kampung, or from  kampung to a hamlet. or from one hamlet to another.

‘We can no longer move around as we used to be able to and this makes people here feel very unsafe,’ he said.

He said that he hoped the government would withdraw the troops from there. ‘The best thing is for the military personnel to be withdrawn from here. The people will feel much freer if they do.’

P. Willy OSA, the pastor in the diocese, confirmed what the Ondoafi said. ‘I feel as if I am under threat because I stand up for my community,’ he said.  P.Willy was ordained as a Catholic priest two years ago.

According to the priest, the presence of the troops is a matter of great anxiety for the people of his congregation.

‘When the priest is away, the people feel very unsafe. They feel like this because they are always being asked questions about all kinds of things.’

He went on to say that there are far too many military posts, which makes the people feel that they are not free.

‘There are military posts every three kilometres, as well as posts along the border. ‘What we have here are Kopasus, koramil and the police,’ he said

[Translated by TAPOL]

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