Free Papua Political Prisoners
WPAT condemns Indonesian violence targeting West Papuan demonstrators
contact: Ed McWIliams, edmcw @ msn.com, +1-401-636-7319
November 29, 2013 - The West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) strongly condemns
ongoing Indonesian security force violence targeting peaceful West Papuan
demonstrators. That police orchestrated violence, which has led to at least
one civilian death and many injuries, comes on the eve of annual Papuan
celebration of the Papuan national flag, December 1. WPAT sources in West
Papua described police conduct as "especially arrogant and violent."
Statements by security force officials, including the National Police Chief,
warn of further violence associated with expected December 1 demonstrations.
The West Papua Advocacy Team calls on the U.S. Government to vigorously
condemn the ongoing security force campaign of violence and intimidation in
West Papua. WPAT also calls on the U.S. Government specifically to urge the
Indonesian government to act to restrain its security forces in dealing with
peaceful December 1 demonstrations in accordance with international
guarantees of freedom of speech and assembly to which the Indonesian
government is obligated. WPAT notes that the provocative police conduct may
be intended to create an atmosphere of insecurity so as to forestall the
expected visit of Melanesian foreign ministers to examine first hand the
plight of Papuans.
Indonesian authorities in West Papua assaulted peaceful Papuan demonstrators
on November 26, reportedly killing one and inflicting four gunshot wounds.
Shootings, killings, beatings, arrests as Hundreds flee to jungle after
Indon Police open fire on peaceful KNPB demo)
The Jayapura shooting victim, Matthius Tengget, an activist with the West
Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB), died of his
wounds in custody. However, his body was subsequently retrieved after it was
dumped into a lake, allegedly by those members of the Brimob paramilitary
police units who shot him.
This latest incident falls within a repeated pattern of the use of
excessive and lethal force by Indonesian police against peaceful
activists in West Papua which is indicative of a broader state policy.
Continued impunity for the police involved is unacceptable and the
failure to punish gives rise to command and state responsibility,"
to a statement from KNPB General Chairman Victor Yeimo, currently in
Abepura prison, "KNPB and family members of the victims are also looking for
four other KNPB members that are missing: their whereabouts are unknown or
their bodies have not yet been found."
According to WPAT source and media reports, the police in Jayapura opened
fire November 26 on an estimated 500 Papuans who were peacefully celebrating
the opening of an office of the KNPB in Papua New Guinea. West Papua Media
reports 15 Papuans are in serious condition in hospitals with various wounds
as a result of the police operation in Jayapura. Peaceful demonstrations
organized by the KPNB took place in many parts of West Papua at the end of
November. Most were met with police violence. Police in Timika arrested 31
demonstrators and three in Sorong. A very large demonstration in Wamena
passed peacefully, apparently because the demonstrators vastly outnumbered
the police who had gathered to block the demonstration. The police violence
November 26 followed police arrests of 16 Papuans who were peacefully
handing out leaflets on November 25. In the wake of the new security force
violence many Papuans, according to West Papua Media have fled their home
and sought refuge in the forests.
Reports to WPAT from West Papua also indicate that in recent days
journalists have suffered intimidation by security forces.
International Lawyer Jennifer Robinson, Convener of the International
Lawyers for West Papua and currently meeting in PNG,
told West Papua Media that "This use of excessive force against KNPB
members is in breach of international law and Indonesia's own police
regulations on the use of force.... This latest incident falls within a
repeated pattern of the use of excessive and lethal force by Indonesian
police against peaceful activists in West Papua which is indicative of a
broader state policy. Continued impunity for the police involved is
unacceptable and the failure to punish gives rise to command and state
responsibility," Robinson said.
For its part
Amnesty International has condemned the police violence and expressed
concern about ill treatment of those placed in custody in connection with
the police action.
"Amnesty International is concerned about allegations that police
ill-treated protesters involved in a pro-independence protest in Papua as
well as intimidated journalists who were covering it. On 26 November, police
arrested at least 28 political activists including three women who
participated in a pro-independence protest in Wamena, Jayapura organized by
the KNPB. According to a human rights lawyer who saw them in detention at
the Jayapura City police station, there were indications that they had been
beaten after they were arrested. Some of the detainees had bruises or
swelling on their mouth, eyes, forehead and body. At least 12 people are
still in police custody."
The growing violence in West Papua appears to have been orchestrated to
coincide with the late November visit there of the new National Police
Commander Sutarman. Gen. Sutarman has made explicit in his threats to Papuan
telling the media that "We will take firm action against groups or
individuals wanting to separate Papua from Indonesia because Papua is part
Indonesian security authority attempts to intimidate Papuans have focused
significantly on the KNPB. Tabloid Jubi reported November 26 that
Papua Deputy Police Chief Waterpauw, on the eve of the police crackdown in
West Papua, denied KNPB the right to freedom of expression, permanently. "I
made it clear to the KNPB, immediately stop the steps that are likely to
violence. Whatever the form of their intention and desire to perform
activities in public hearings, (it) will never be given permission or
recommendation to implement it , because we know the purpose of the
organisation and their desire is clear, (they) want to form a state , split
off and so on. "
The wave of police violence comes on the eve of what are expected to be
commemorations of "Flag Day" across West Papua as Papuans celebrate by
raising the Morning Star (Bintang Kejora) flag for the first time,
December 1 1961.
Sutarman warned that “The Bintang Kejora flag raising ceremony on
Dec. 1 is forbidden, and those involved will be dealt with seriously."