The National – Tuesday, February 1, 2011
By JUNIOR UKAHA
NCD Governor Powes Parkop has joined the Sunset Merona debate, saying yesterday that the operation in Vanimo has inflicted more harm than good.
He wanted the operation stopped.
In a three-page letter to Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, Parkop said he had received reports from villagers along the border that members of the disciplinary forces participating in Sunset Merona had harassed, intimidated and assaulted West Papuan refugees, locals and traditional border crossers in West Sepik.
He said while reports had confirmed the detention of about 100 West Papuans, including women and children, suspected of having links to OPM rebels, homes and properties of the settlers including food gardens had been destroyed.
Parkop, a strong advocate of human rights, said he believed West Papuan refugees inside PNG had become prime targets of the current joint border operation.
“From the reports I have received on the conduct of the operation, it has become obvious that this operation is targeting West Papuans,” Parkop said.
He also suggested the PNG government being used by Indonesia to target West Papuan refugees.
He told the prime minister in his letter: “I appeal to your highest office to immediately stop the operation as it is obvious that our government and police are being used by the Indonesian government to harass and suppress suspected activists campaigning for independence of West Papua.”
He said if the West Papuans detained were suspected of any criminal offences, they should be investigated, charged and jailed for their crimes.
The letter, which was delivered to the prime minister’s office yesterday morning, also argued that the entire operation was “too general, lack substance and did not target a specific location and syndicate”.
He said the short-term band-aid work of Operation Sunset Merona would achieve nothing but only disturb the peace and cause fear among the border communities.