Indonesian Ministers, Generals to Tour Restive Eastern Indonesia
A group of ministers, including chief security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and top military and police brass, will visit restive areas in eastern Indonesia, including the Malukus and Irian Jaya, a report said Sunday.
Thirteen cabinet ministers and 21 other top state officials, under the leadership of Yudhoyono, will start their two-day trip on Tuesday with a visit to North Maluku, where clashes between Muslims and Christians have killed thousands of people in the past year, the state Antara news agency said.
The group will then visit West Timor, where militiamen and more than 100,000 East Timorese refugees have been sheltered in camps since September 1999, and conclude with a trip to Irian Jaya where separatism has been on the rise.
The group will include Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab, Defence Minister Muhammad Mahfud, Attorney General Marzuki Darusman, military chief Admiral Widodo Adisucipto and national police chief General Suroyo Bimantoro, Antara said.
In North Maluku, the group of officials will visit camps sheltering refugees of the Muslim-Christian conflicts in Ternate and neighboring Halmahera island and also evaluate a state of civil emergency imposed there since June 27 to halt the violence.
Maluku Utara has seen the most violent of the sectarian clashes which have plagued it and neighbouring Maluku province since January 1999.
The conflict began with a trivial dispute between a Christian driver and a Muslim in Ambon, the main city of Maluku, but quickly spread to the other islands in the two provinces.
Some 4,000 people have been killed in the violence since, while more than half a million have been displaced by the clashes which have also left a wide track of destruction across the islands.
In West Timor, some 130,000 refugees of post-ballot pro-Indonesia militia violence in East Timor are still holed up in squalid camps.
The militia, which went on a campaign of wanton killings and destruction following the pro-independence results of the UN-held poll, are also among the refugees and were behind the slaughter of three UN relief workers in the border town of Atambua in September.
In Irian Jaya, growing separatist sentiments led to a bloody riot in the town of Wamena on October 6 that left 31 people, mostly migrant settlers, dead following the forced removal of separatist flags there -- JAKARTA (AFP)
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