Monday, July 6, 1998 Published at 19:10 GMT 20:10 UK
Indonesian forces fire on crowd in Irian Jaya, scores wounded
(with TAC 9827815 - human rights activist slams "brutal" crackdown) Indonesian security forces cracked down on pro-independence demonstrators on Monday in the remote province of Irian Jaya, wounding 24 people with rubber bullets and detaining 180, a local police chief said.
State-run Indonesian radio quoted Brigadier Hosman Siagian as saying security forces opened fire on members of a separatist group who were flying the West Papua flag in Biak, an island off the province's north coast.
Irian Jaya, which was taken over by Indonesia in 1963, borders on Papua New Guinea.
Siagian said separatists had been flying the West Papua flag in Biak since Thursday.
A human rights activist in Irian Jaya, speaking to a foreign radio, said some of the victims shot by Indonesian troops on Biak Island on Monday were bystanders watching the demonstration by pro-independence students.
John Rumbiak of the Institute for Human Rights Studies and Advocacy, a non-governmental organization based in the Irian Jaya capital Jayapura, said some victims who got shot were "just people who were watching the demonstration".
"Suddenly they were shot from their back", he said, adding that one victim had been badly wounded in the stomach, another hit in the back while others sustained bullet wounds to their feet.
Rumbiak said Indonesia had sent in troop reinforcements to Biak over the weekend by boat and by Hercules transport plane.
"All Biak is controlled by the military, occupied by the military, and people are chased up to their houses and beaten up," Rumbiak said.
"There is no way at all for the families of the victims... to go to the hospital, because the hospital is now controlled by the military." Rumbiak said there were "hundreds" of Indonesian troops on the island.
He urged the Indonesian government to hold talks with the representatives of the people rather than by retaliating with what he called "brutality".
Students were also reported to have staged pro-independence protests last week in the Irian Jayan capital Jayapura and Sorong in the northwest of the province, when one student was reportedly shot dead by security forces on the university campus in Jayapura.
Indonesian radio said the rector of the university had appealed for calm, saying the campus was "not meant for separatist activities because they may cause social unrest and death among the students themselves." "The security personnel's supervision of the free speech forum is not meant to frighten the students, but to anticipate infiltration by certain groups who want to carry out their separatist movement.
Therefore, the students are urged to remain calm and maintain a peaceful atmosphere in Jayapura", the radio said.
Papua New Guinea sent two boats to Jayapura on Sunday to evacuate the families of staff at the country's consulate there .
Separatist protests have been gaining momentum in the province since the resignation of Indonesian President Suharto and his replacement by B.
Habibie last month.
BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.