Indonesia: The Wild Wild East

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March 20, 2006: Police have arrested at least 70 suspects in the violence near a gold mine in Papua. The locals want more money, although there are also disagreements between local tribes over who should get what. Currently, corrupt local officials steal much of the money, from the gold mine, that should go to the local Papuans. The unrest has been going on for years, as the Melanesian people of Papua resent the Malay of being in control of their half of the island of New Guinea. The eastern half of the island became independent in 1975. There are hundreds of tribes in Papua, and most of them want the Indonesian Malay outsiders gone. The eastern half of New Guinea, although an independent nation, is in chaos because the tribes cannot agree enough to rule effectively. Only 17 percent of the five million people in the country live in towns, the rest in highland settlements. There are over 800 languages spoken, and even more tribes. Half of these languages are close to extinction and most tribes have a few people who speak Pidgin English, which is the common language in the country. Only about two percent of the population speak standard English. The situation is similar in western New Guinea. As a result of this anarchy, economic development is limited, as foreign companies are unwilling to tangle with tribal politics. Similar violence against mining operations in Papua-New Guinea led to many deaths and shut downs. The mining operation in Papua was shut down today.

India is sending warships to assist the Indonesian navy in anti-piracy and anti-terrorism patrols.

March 19, 2006: Some 200 additional police are being sent to Papua.

March 17, 2006: East Timor, which broke away from Indonesia to become a separate nation in 1999, has dismissed a third of its 1,400 man army in a dispute over pay and promotions. Timor, like nearby New Guinea, is populated largely by Melanesian people, who are not happy with over a century of Malay migration from the west. The Melanesians are largely tribal and poor, putting them at a disadvantage when competing with the Malays.

March 16, 2006: In Papua, over a week of demonstrations against a gold mine resulted in a riot that left three police and an air force officer dead. Several rioters were also injured.

March 7, 2006: Police arrested two more Islamic terrorists who were involved in bombing attacks. One of the men helped build bombs, the other provided a safe house and other support. This continues a trend that began shortly after the first bombings four years ago. Most of the arrested terrorists tend to talk, and provide more names and places, which has led to more arrests, and the seizure of weapons, bomb making materials and documents. These support people are more important than the suicide bombers themselves, as it is easier to recruit suicide bombers than it is to find the support staff.

February 28, 2006: A soldier was sentenced to eight months in jail for shooting three students in Papua last month, killing one of them.

February 27, 2006: At the government's request, 200 foreign peace monitors agreed to stay an extra three months in Aceh, until June 15.

 

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