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Security forces open fire at Third Papuan People’s Congress

October 19, 2011

INDONESIA: Security forces open fire at Third Papuan People’s Congress

October 19, 2011

Security forces in Jayapura
(Hong Kong, October 19, 2011) At around 3pm today the security forces surrounding the Third Papuan People’s Congress in Indonesia opened fire and dispersed the event. Possible casualties are not known as of now. Several persons are reported to have been arrested, including Forkorus Yaboisembut and Edison Waromi, indigenous political leaders.

The AHRC has received reports from several credible sources about the violent intervention by the Indonesian military (TNI) and the mobile brigades of the police (BRIMOB) at the Tunas Harapan field in Abepura, Papua, where the event took place. See our <>earlier press release in which the AHRC reported the military and police’s aggressive approach to the event. Some reports allege that several persons have been killed.

There are fears that raids by the security forces through the town, as seen in the past, may be repeated tonight. In several past instances, the police and military tortured and shot suspects. The situation in the wider Jayapura and Abepura area remains tense. Shops are closed and traffic is blocked by the security forces.

More than 2000 members of the army and police were reported to have been mobilised.

"This violent intervention and use of firearms is a disproportional use of force to deter the participants of this event, and violates their right to freedom of expression and political opinion," said Wong Kai Shing, Executive Director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, in response to the violence.

"The current situation requires close monitoring," he continued. "We call on all authorities to ensure that any arrested persons are not subjected to torture and their procedural rights are protected. Any arrested persons should be charged with internationally recognised crimes based on evidence or released immediately."

Indonesians fire on West Papuan activists

The Age

Tom Allard, Bali

October 20, 2011

INDONESIAN security forces yesterday fired on a mass meeting of West Papuans and arrested leaders and activists after participants at the Papuan People’s Congress declared independence for the restive region.

There were reports at least one person was killed as thousands of terrified delegates stampeded from the oval where the congress was being held under the close watch of up to 5000 security personnel.

”It started about 30 minutes after the congress was completed,” said Oktovianus Pogau, an activist. ”People were running in all directions … [the military] and police are everywhere on the streets, armed.”

Earlier, representatives of more than 200 indigenous West Papuan tribes had elected Forkorus Yoboisembut as their president and Edison Waromi as prime minister. Mr Yoboisembut then declared independence from Jakarta’s rule, prompting police to detain him.

According to another witness account, the leader’s bodyguards attempted to stop the arrest and then police responded by shooting their weapons. Mr Yoboisembut and Mr Waromi were both reportedly detained, along with other activists and organisers.

West Papua’s military commander, Major-General Erfi Triassunu, confirmed the shooting, but insisted it was only a warning. He told the Jakarta Globe there were no casualties but said the shots were fired in response to the announcement of independence.

Jayapura Police Chief Imam Setiawan said hundreds of people had been arrested for subversion, Kompas online reported.

The Papuan People’s Congress is a hugely significant event for indigenous West Papuans, just the third held in the past 50 years. Several thousand people attended from all over Papua, representatives of the region’s 200-plus tribes.

The first congress occurred in 1961, when the western half of New Guinea island was still in Dutch hands. The second occurred in 2001 during the brief ”Papuan Spring”, when the former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid allowed open political discussion about the future of the region.

West Papua was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after a highly controversial vote involving 1025 delegates hand-picked by Jakarta and kept under guard by the military, supposedly satisfying a United Nations requirement that West Papuans be given an act of self-determination.

Ever since, separatist sentiment has been widespread as the Indonesian military, police and intelligence services ruthlessly cracked down on dissent, arresting, torturing and murdering West Papuan leaders and independence supporters.

Indonesia’s president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono vowed last year for constructive communications with aggrieved West Papuans but has yet to act on his pledge. In the meantime, indigenous West Papuans have ramped up protest activity as graphic video evidence, revealed in The Age, emerged of Indonesian forces torturing villagers.

For the past month in West Papua, the world’s biggest gold and copper mine, operated by US mining giant Freeport-McMoRan, has been racked by industrial disputes.

Read more: <>

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