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Report: Indonesian Settlers Starve

May 19, 2000

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ At least 17 people moved to Indonesia’s easternmost province of West Papua in resettlement programs have starved to death in recent weeks, the official Antara news agency reported Friday.

The victims were residents of two resettlement projects in Bonggo district, near the provincial capital of Jayapura, about 2,300 miles east of Jakarta, the agency said.

The new settlers had come from Java, Bali and other islands in Indonesia, said Ramli Rahman, a lawyer at the local Legal Aid Foundation. The settlers claimed that the West Papua lands allotted for them by the Indonesian government are arid and unproductive, he told the agency.

Rahman said his office in Jayapura was currently housing 224 families of the migrants who are trying to return to their home islands.

The Indonesian government’s program was initiated in the 1960s to bring in migrants from the country’s other provinces so it could blunt demands for independence from the indigenous population.

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