Subject: Indonesia Bars U.S. Congressman from Papua

The Jakarta Post Tuesday, July 3, 2007

U.S. Congressman Barred from Papua

Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

U.S. Congressman Eni Faleomavaega is expected to arrive in Jakarta on Tuesday but the Indonesian government said Monday it would not allow him to visit Papua because his presence in the province could encourage violence.

Indonesian Foreign Ministry director general for European and American affairs Eddhi Hariyadhi said that although Indonesia had no issues with Faleomavaega or his desire to go the province, it had decided that it was not the right time for the Democrat congressmen from American Samoa to go there.

"He will be in Jakarta tomorrow, and will not go to Papua because the situation is not conducive for him to visit the province. You know, the visit will be exploited by certain groups to create riots," he told The Jakarta Post.

Meanwhile, the Papuan Traditional Council announced that more than 500 representatives from 250 tribes in Papua and West Papua would attend its second conference from Tuesday to Friday in Jayapura.

A rumor has circulated that Faleomavaega planned to attend the conference.

Eddhi dismissed suggestions that Indonesia stopped the trip because it feared exposing Papua's situation to the international community, stressing that there were no human rights problems in the province that would concern the international community.the recent incident in Maluku is one of our considerations," he said, referring the group of people who tried to wave the South Maluku Republic flag in front of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the Maluku provincial capital of Ambon last Friday.

After the incident, which many said exposed the country's weak intelligence service, more than 30 people were arrested.

International groups have often accused Indonesia of human rights violations in Papua. Jakarta has repeatedly denied the accusations. In an effort to manage foreign involvement in Papua, the government limits the entry of foreigners into the province.

Faleomavaega, a staunch supporter of Papuan independence, sponsored in 2005 a bill asking the U.S. government to review its recognition of Papua as part of Indonesia.

However, Faleomavaega's stance appeared to have softened when he recently told an Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle delegation visiting the U.S. that Indonesia's sovereignty over the province depended not so much on international recognition, but on how the Indonesian government treated the territory, improved the capacity of local governments and empowered Papuan people.

Eddhi said that the congressman would meet with his counterparts, Indonesian lawmakers, and the foreign minister during his visit.

Nethy Dharma Somba contributed to this story from Jayapura.

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