Cablegate: Nothing Fishy On the Indonesian Boarder
DE RUEHPB #0350 2400305
ZNY EEEEE ZZH
R 280305Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4585
INFO RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0864
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0073
RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY 1999
UNCLAS E F T O PORT MORESBY 000350
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PP ID
SUBJECT: NOTHING FISHY ON THE INDONESIAN BOARDER
1.(U) The shooting of an Indonesian fisherman off the north
coast of PNG has sparked a number of paranoid press reports on
alleged Indonesian activity. All evidence we have suggests the
reports are sourced from either NGOs seeking to draw attention
to Papuan separatist causes or from others seeking a place in
2.(U) On August 8, a PNG fisheries patrol accompanied by Defense
force personnel (PNGDF) encountered eight Indonesian fishermen
within the 12 nautical mile limit off PNG's north coast. The
PNGDF soldiers opened fire, killing one and injuring two others.
The balance were taken into custody.
3.(U) There has since been a spate of stories in the local press
which can only be characterized as paranoid. Stories of a
similar nature have been picked up from the Australian media.
The fishermen have been labeled as Indonesian Intelligence
officers (Kapassus). One source listed the fishermen with
improbable precision as "a commander, a medic, a radioman, a
signaler and a rifleman plus three Kapassus officers. Various
West Papuan groups have warned of large Indonesian troop
buildups since the incident and of "fears of imminent invasion".
The local press picked up a report in the Australian Bulletin
claiming that Indonesian intelligence is so heavily established
within PNG that it "virtually runs some towns on the border."
Also recycled were reports of a senior "Indonesian double agent"
in the previous PNG government.
4.(SBU) The reports have been roundly denied by the government,
the Indonesian embassy, and in private by everyone with any
credibility we have talked to. The PNGDF lacks the resources to
regularly patrol Indonesia's border waters. We understand that
fishing back and forth across the border is relatively common
and that there may be customary arrangements among traditional
groups on both sides of the border to this effect. There are
some legitimate questions about the use of lethal force in such
a situation. However, all evidence we have heard portrays as
balderdash the notion that these fishermen were part of some
sinister intelligence operation.