Friday, July 3, 2009
Papuan Police Arrest Rebel in Skirmish,
Prepare for Post-Election Violence
Papuan police have arrested a suspected member of the separatist Free Papua Movement and wounded another who is still at large. The arrest follows a series of violent attacks in Papua and comes less than a week before the presidential election. The volatile province experienced an upswing of anti-Indonesian sentiment and violence in the lead-up and during the April 9 legislative elections. Since mid-May, rebels have staged an armed occupation of an isolated airstrip at Kasepo village in Mambramo Raya district, about 300 kilometers from the provincial capital Jayapura.
The group seized the airstrip on May 18 and raised the OPM’s outlawed Morning Star flag.
Security officials in Papua claim the recent incidents confirmed that the armed separatist struggle was still ongoing. OPM has waged a low-level struggle for independence for the resource-rich province since the 1960s. The movement is outlawed in Indonesia and it is a crime to display its independence flag in public.