Anger, defiance mark Kwalik burial

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 21, 2009) – About 600 people have attended the funeral of slain Papuan rebel leader Kelly Kwalik, as anti-Indonesian sentiment continues to run high in the restive province following days of protests.

The Free Papua Movement, or OPM, regional commander is expected to be buried beside a church in central Timika, five days after he was shot dead by police during a raid on his hideout in the southern coastal town.

Hundreds of supporters have rallied in the town every day since his death, calling for independence from Indonesia and briefly clashing with police outside the parliament building where the coffin was on display.

The casket was draped in the outlawed Morning Star flag of Papuan independence, a show of defiance as anyone waving the rebel standard faces up to life in prison under Indonesian law.

Police have linked Mr Kwalik to a string of ambushes near Timika over the past six months targeting the mining giant Freeport McMoRan.

But he denied any role in the attacks, which some analysts continue to suspect were the work of rogue police or soldiers trying to extract protection money from Freeport.