Indonesia

Indonesia: Police ordered to arrest rebels

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The Papua New Guinea (PNG) government has ordered police to arrest Papuan rebels from the Free Papua Movement (OPM) who may be operating from refugee camps in Vanimo, Sandaun Province.

A government spokesman said the operatives were given 21 days to move out. "As regards to the OPM training camps inside the PNG side of the border, a joint police/military operation has commenced and troops will now be deployed into the border area to destroy these known camps, if these camps have not already been dismantled by the OPM operatives,'' said the spokesman. Any OPM operatives found will be arrested and dealt with under PNG laws.

The spokesman said the chief secretary has directed the secretary for foreign affairs and the secretary for the provincial and local government affairs to ensure that officials of foreign missions in PNG are not allowed to visit Vanimo or the border area without prior approval from the government.

The government's call follows denials by the Catholic Diocese of Vanimo that two foreign missions had visited OPM camps last week, facilitated by the church.

Samsom Mesambe, spokesman for the church, said the visitors were human rights groups from Australia and Indonesia. Mesambe said a four-member team of former judges from Australia interviewed border crossers - not OPM rebels - at the Transmitter Border Crossers Camp outside Vanimo on Thursday (30/1/03).

Mesambe said the other three-man team, known as the Institute of Human Rights Study Advocacy from West Papua, was refused permission by the border crossers, who suspected that they might be working as undercover agents for the Indonesian government.

Reports that an American may have also visited the camps have not yet been verified.

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