Indonesian troop build-up in West Papua troubles PNG MPs

Oro Governor Gary Juffa ... "the Prime Minister’s call threatens to destroy the very fabric of the freedom of the people". Image: PNG Parliament

By Freddy Mou in Port Moresby

More than 4500 Indonesian soldiers have been moved to Wamena in the Highlands of West Papua region of Indonesia, which shares a common border with Papua New Guinea, the PNG Parliament has been told.

The movement of soldiers have raised concerns from PNG parliamentarians about why soldiers have been moved there.

Northern Governor Garry Juffa raised this in Parliament yesterday, asking the Defence Minister Fabian Pok whether he was aware of the movement.

“The continuous build-up of military presence in that province should concern Papua New Guinea. Yet we don’t seem to have any knowledge of what is going on there,” says Juffa.

However, Pok in response told Parliament that Indonesia had been a good friend of PNG and those movements must not be seen as a threat to PNG people.

He said PNG must be considered a lucky country in a sense that PNG shared common borders with two of the “most powerful countries”, Indonesia and Australia.

Pok said he had had meetings frequently with defence ministers from both countries and had never seen them as enemies but as friends.

He said it was Indonesia’s “internal problems” that moved the military personnel closer to the border.

“We really don’t have issues with Indonesia regarding security at the border.”

Freddy Mou is a journalist with Loop PNG.


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