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The BBC's Richard Galpin reports
"The trip is part of a campaign to halt separatist calls before it's too late"
 real 28k

The BBC's Clare Arthurs reports
"The economy of the territory is based on agriculture and mining"
 real 28k

Saturday, 1 January, 2000, 14:14 GMT
Irian Jaya: A troubled history

Irian Jaya map


By East Asia reporter Clare Arthurs

Irian Jaya forms half of the island of New Guinea, its northern border and its capital, Jayapura, face the Pacific Ocean.

Fragile Archipelago
The eastern half of the island is Papua New Guinea, a territory administered by Australia until it gained independence in 1975.

The western half was called Irian Jaya - Glorious West Guinea - by Indonesia, which took over from Dutch rule in the early 1960s.

When Indonesia won independence from the Netherlands after World War Two, the Dutch retained the western half of the island partly because its people were Melanesian, different from the Malays who make up of much of the rest of Indonesia.

With the handover to Indonesia, Irian Jaya was promised eventual self-determination, and opposition to Indonesian rule, waged by the Free Papua Movement or OPM, has lasted for 30 years.

A ceasefire was declared in 1998 but the troubles run as deep as the gold and copper mined on the island. Much of it comes from the Freeport mine. It has been linked with the Indonesian military in the deaths of 60 people in 1994 following environmental protests.

In 1996 the OPM attracted international attention when it kidnapped more than 20 people. Two were killed during a rescue operation by Indonesian special forces.

In December the separatist movement took over the streets of Jayapura.

Thousands of people gathered in the capital, hoisting the pro-independence flag and increasing the pressure on Jakarta to give this territory of some two million people a greater say in their own future.

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See also:
01 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesia apologises to Irian Jaya
01 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Irian Jayans call for independence
01 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Morning Star flies in Irian Jaya
09 Nov 99 |  SPECIAL REPORT
The fragile archipelago
19 Nov 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesia rules out Aceh independence
30 Nov 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesia withdraws troops from Moluccas
01 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Timor leader returns home

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