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Indonesia: After Shootings of Civilians, People of Papua Demand Justice

September 18, 2015

b850e726-f37d-445b-855b-04a0afae856d.jpeg Indonesia: After Shootings of Civilians, People of Papua Demand Justice
Indonesian soldiers and policemen have allegedly shot and killed eight civilians since last December.
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1) Indonesia: After Shootings of Civilians, People of Papua Demand Justice
Victor Mambor

The night began as a celebration of academic achievement but ended in the latest shooting of civilians by security forces in Papua, Indonesia’s remote easternmost province.

Local people were gathering in Timika, a city of about 120,000 in the lowlands of south-central Papua, to celebrate the graduation of Leonardus Tumuka, the first member of the Kamoro tribe to earn a doctorate.

There was Tifa Duduk – traditional drumming, singing and dancing – but an altercation with soldiers shattered the festive mood in the early morning hours on Aug. 28. A shooting ensued that killed two young men and wounded five other people.

A special team of the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has been sent to the region to investigate this and other incidents, in which members of the Indonesian security forces have allegedly shot and killed civilians.

A tragic turn

The shooting occurred around 2 a.m., when a group of Kamoro people was gathering at St. Fransiskus Koperapoka church to prepare for the celebration, Gerry Okoware, a witness, told BenarNews.

According to him, two soldiers on a motorcycle rode up, waved guns and yelled, "Who hit our [army] members?"

Some women tried to get the soldiers to leave the church yard, and some young men joined the effort. Then, shots rang out.

Seven people were wounded, two fatally. Imanuel Herman Maurimau and Yulianus Okoware, both 23, died after being rushed to local hospitals.

Less than an hour before the shooting, an altercation took place when two other soldiers tried to enter the street, which had been blocked off for the festivities.

"The two people were drunk, and they tried to break into the street closed by local people and police for the celebration," the bishop of Timika, Monsignor John Philip Saklil Pr, told BenarNews by phone from the city. Timika is a hub for Freeport Indonesia, the firm that operates the world’s largest gold mine in nearby Tembagapura sub-district.

When an argument ensued between the soldiers and some young men at the scene, Kamoro elders, fearing that the incident might escalate, intervened to mediate the dispute.

The soldiers backed down and went away, but the two other servicemen on the motorbike rolled by some 40 minutes later, Sakil said.

‘Protector of immoral criminals’

Within the past year there have been at least five cases of shootings of civilians in Papua by soldiers or members of the police force, according to the bishop. A total of eight people have died as a result.

"The cases have not yet been completely solved. In addition to a lack of transparency in handling the cases, it seems there is no good will or seriousness from police and army leadership. Therefore, the culprits have never been caught,”Saklil told BenarNews.

The worst of these shootings occurred on Dec. 8, 2014, when four teenagers were allegedly shot and killed by members of the security forces, as hundreds of people were protesting outside a military installation in Enarotali, a town in Paniai regency. The crowd was riled up by reports that some servicemen had fought with some local teens the night before.

Among the other incidents, members of a mobile police brigade and some soldiers were allegedly involved in a shooting in Dogiyai regency on June 26 that left one civilian dead and another wounded.

Tensions rose even higher on July 15, after a riot broke out in Tolikara regency. A group of Christians rioted outside a small mosque as local Muslims were taking part in a prayer service to mark Eid-ul-Fitr. The Christians were angered by noise coming from the mosque’s loudspeakers.

According to news reports, a small fire broke out at the mosque, and one person was shot dead and 11 others suffered gunshot wounds when police fired on the crowd.

Yet because the people responsible for such shootings are still on active duty with the National Police and Army, their mere presence terrorizes people in Papua, Saklil said.

"The absence of a serious and sincere effort on their side gives the impression that both institutions are no longer serving the public. They are no more than the protector of immoral criminals," the bishop said.

Komnas HAM investigates

Komnas HAM Commissioner Natalius Pigai and four other staff members arrived in Timika on Sept. 8 to interview relatives of the two dead civilians, as well as gather facts from the army, local police force, and intelligence officials.

"We also stressed to the national police and army that we will monitor this case through to the level of military court, until the trial is over," Pigai told BenarNews by phone from Mimika.

Families of the victims want justice, Pigai said after visiting several of the wounded in hospital.

"Up until now, only the army has provided aid to the victims. No other aid has been received, including from the local government of Mimika. But the public is now seeking justice through transparent trials and verdicts, because we have two people who died here," he added.

According to Pigai, the army has acknowledged that the two men who carried out the shooting were members of the local district’s military command. Military police have arrested and identified them as Chief Sgt. Makhar and 1st Sgt. Arshar.

Separately, Cenderawasih Hinsa Siburian, head of Military Command Zone XVII, confirmed to BenarNews that the two soldiers had been handed over to military police.

"They are now under investigation and soon will be tried by the military high court. The sooner, the better," Siburian said.

But he did not say what kind of punishment they might face, if court-martialed.

"They will be charged with multiple crimes," he said.

Jokowi’s promise

The latest case has added to the toll from violence in Papua since Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was inaugurated as Indonesia’s president last October, following an election campaign in which he promised to pay special attention to justice and development in Papua.

Laurensius Kadepa, a member of the provincial house of representatives, questioned the pledge that Jokowi had made on the campaign trail.

"Where are his promises saying that Indonesia’s development will be started in Papua? Where is his attention on the human rights issue in Papua? I see no significant change until now,” Kadepa told BenarNews.

“The violence by security forces is still going on, and Papuan lives are at stake in the name of the unity of the Republic of Indonesia. That is very wrong," said Kadepa, who has headed parliamentary committees probing such shootings.


2) PNG Defence Force rescues Indonesian hostages from West Papuan rebels, military commander says

Pacific Beat
By Bruce Hill, staff

Updated yesterday at 1:40pm

Two Indonesian citizens who were taken hostage by West Papuan rebels have been rescued, the head of the PNG Defence Force (PNGDF) says.

The men, known as Sudirman and Badar, were reportedly kidnapped by gunmen while cutting wood in Skopro in the Indonesian province of Papua and brought into PNG last week.

The Indonesian government had requested PNG assistance to free its citizens, reportedly giving Port Moresby its full support to any action taken.

Brigadier general Gilbert Toropo confirmed that PNGDF troops successfully rescued the men on Thursday night after initial negotiations with pro-independence group the Free Papua Organisation (OPM) failed.

"We were expecting them to be released on [September 17] about midday but that did not eventuate," he told the ABC.

"So the orders were issued for the PNGDF to move in closer to secure the two captives’ release forcefully.

"As a result, when our troops moved in to recapture the two captives everyone fled into the bush."

Mr Toropo said the Indonesian men were later handed over by several women who belonged to the group of hostage takers.

"We were still following clues and some of the females, realising the danger that their men and their people were going to be in, brought in the captives freely," he said.

Mr Toropo said one person was arrested, and "not one shot was fired" in the operation near Vanimo on the north coast of PNG.

"We wanted to handle this operation with sensitivity and avoid casualties as much as possible," he said.

The office of PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill said the two Indonesians were safe and had been treated at a health centre.

Churches and aid groups say there has been a recent increase in tension and alleged human rights abuses in Papua province, where pro-independence activists are waging a long-running separatist movement.

RIDAY, 18 SEPTEMBER, 2015 | 10:58 WIB
3) Two Indonesian Hostages Taken To Jayapura After Release

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said that the two Indonesian hostages in Papua New Guinea (PNG) have been released by their captors. The two have been delivered by PNG Authorities to Indonesian Consulate in Vanimo, alive and well.

"The two Indonesians will be taken from the consulate to Skowtiau border," said Minister Retno on Friday, September 18. The two hostages, Ladiri Sudirman and Badar, will head to Jayapura for medical examination.

Both Ladiri and Badar were abducted in Skouwtiau, Kerom District, on September 12. The armed captors have asked for prisoner trade with the Papuan Police, as two of their friends are currently in Police custody. The two men were released on Thursday evening.


4) Govt Draws Praise, Criticism in Papua Kidnapping Case
By : Basten Gokkon | on 11:46 AM September 18, 2015

Jakarta. The government’s successful efforts in ensuring the freedom of two Indonesian loggers kidnapped and brought to Papua New Guinea last week have drawn mixed reactions from officials and experts.

An armed group believed to be part of the separatist Free Papua Organization (OPM) on Thursday night released two Indonesians ̶ identified as loggers Badar, 29, and Ladiri, 28 ̶ to security forces in Papua New Guinea, where both had been held since their capture on the Indonesian side of the border last week.

The release reportedly took place without incident and the two men are said to be healthy.

"I really appreciate President Joko Widodo for immediately contacting Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neil and requesting his help in releasing the two civilians," Setya Novanto, speaker of the House of Representatives, said in a statement distributed in Jakarta on Friday.

Setya also extended his praises to Indonesia’s security forces and the government of Papua New Guinea.

Separately, the kidnapping and subsequent release received criticism from political expert Zainal Abidin, who questioned the authenticity of the entire situation.

"People will naturally praise Joko for helping free the two Indonesians," he said.

"[But] I think it’s only fair we remain suspicious; this may have been a scenario created by the [Indonesian] government to boost its popularity," he added.

Zainil pointed out OPM leader Jefry Endang Sodik’s denial of the separatist group’s involvement in the matter.

"The OPM are known to admit holding Indonesian nationals hostage and they often make demands in exchange for [the hostages'] freedom. But in this case, the group has denied any wrongdoing," Zainil said on Tuesday as quoted by

"This definitely raises questions, especially as State Intelligence Agency [BIN] chief Sutiyoso is very good at handling [such matters]," he added.

The Indonesian government expects to have both hostages in custody later this afternoon.

FRIDAY, 18 SEPTEMBER, 2015 | 13:28 WIB
5) Indonesian Hostages in PNG, Release Chronology

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir on Friday, September 18, 2015, revealed the chronology of how two Indonesian nationals were release from the hands of their kidnappers.

Two Indonesian nationals, Sudirman and Badar, were taken hostage by armed militias since September 12, had been released late Thursday, September 17, 2015.

“Based on information we received, the Papua New Guinean army and the OPM agreed to meet Thursday noon,” Arrmanatha said at the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Arrmanatha added that when the forces arrived at the agreed location, the group was not seen and escaped into the deep forest. The security forces, Arrmanatha said, chased the group into the woods until evening. At 7:30 p.m. local time, both hostages had been retrieved by the Papua New Guinea army.

“They manage to retrieve the two Indonesian nationals with minimum force,” he said.

The wellbeing of the two hostages confirmed when they arrived at the Indonesian Consulate General in Vanimo, Papua New Guinea.

Arrmanatha added the team in Papua New Guinea had initiated a negotiation to release the two Indonesian nationals since Tuesday, September 15, 2015, or three days after their kidnapping, by scheduling a meeting with spokesperson of the abductors.

On Thursday, Armanatha said, the Papua New Guinea Army deployed personnel to search them directly into the forest. He did not explain whether the hostage release involve fire exchanges between the army and the group.

“The information will be communicated by the Papua New Guinea team to [the Indonesian] consulate during a briefing,” he added.

Arrmanatha ensured that the team had prioritized non-violent negotiation and persuasion to release the hostages as requested by Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi. Armanatha said that during the process to release the hostages the Indonesian Military was on standby at the border.

“The Papua New Guinea team said that they would try their best to help with the situation. If they couldn’t handle it, they would have asked for help from the Indonesian government,” Arrmanatha added.


6) AGO Ready to Confiscate Papua Cop’s Huge Assets
By : Yeremia Sukoyo | on 10:27 PM September 18, 2015

Jakarta. The Attorney General’s Office is ready to confiscate the assets of graft and money laundering convict Labora Sitorus, a law-ranking but surprisingly well-off police-officer-cum-businessman from West Papua.

Attorney General M. Prasetyo said the Supreme Court has already issued a final and binding ruling on the matter, so authorities could proceed.

Even if Labora were to lodge a judicial review to challenge the ruling, “it would not get in the way of the impending confiscation [of the assets],” Prasetyo said on Thursday.

Labora made national headlines in 2013 when it turned out he had some Rp 1.5 trillion ($105 million) in his bank accounts. He had been laundering money gained through fuel hoarding and illegal logging with his timber company Rotua.

The notorious officer has since been sentenced to 15 years in prison for graft and money laundering.


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