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Gov't slammed for escalating violence in Papua

Publication Date : 16-06-2012

 

The streets of Abepura and Sentani in Jayapura regency in Papua looked deserted yestedrday, a day after riots erupted in nearby Waena district after the death of local activist Mako Tabuni.

Traders chose to close their shops along the main roads in both cities for security reasons.

“I won’t go to the office today. I am afraid a similar incident might occur. I chose to accompany my kids to school,” said Damaris, a civil servant at a local administration office.

Meanwhile, Tabuni’s family collected the activist’s body from the Bhayangkara Police Hospital, ahead of the burial planned for Saturday in Wamena.

For Tabuni’s family, his death is not the end of what he had been fighting for, because whether or not he was murdered, the struggle to free Papuans from their suffering is not over.

“Although Tabuni was shot and killed, this is not over. Tabuni was taken, but this does not reduce anything, as the struggle will continue,” said a family member, moments before Tabuni’s body was brought home to his family.

The government has denied that its actions had triggered a series of violent incidents in Papua, which have so far claimed 17 lives in the past month.

The government blamed the difficult geography of the country’s easternmost region and the sensitivity of the issue surrounding the independence movements.

According to Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto, security officers were not responsible for the killings in several locations in Papua.

“I really regret such allegations [that the incidents have been part of military or intelligence operations], including those suggesting the government has been ignorant and negligent,” he said.

Activists and experts have condemned the government for ignoring the escalating violence in Papua and have called for the establishment of an ad hoc human rights court and a Commission for Truth and Reconciliation (KKR) to reveal past violations committed by state agents as a way of settling the ongoing conflict in the province.

“The government must be consistent in its approach to resolving the conflict in Papua. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered an ambivalent approach — he wants a cultural approach on one hand, but maintains the Police Mobile Brigade there on the other hand,” National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) chairman Ifdhal Kasim said on Friday.

In addition, the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) emphasised the urgency of setting up an ad hoc human rights court and a KKR to gradually resolve the enduring conflict in Papua.

According to LIPI historian Asvi Warman, all recent killings in Papua are inseparable from past military operations that have claimed the lives of many Papuans.

“All of the abductions, torture, and murder of their fellow Papuans, which took place during the military operations in the past, abide in their memories because nothing has been done about any of those cases,” Asvi told the audience of a discussion on Papua at the Regional Representatives Council on Friday.

He cited the Wasior massacre, during the 2001 Tumpas (Annihilated) Operation, as an example of a human rights violation in Papua that the government had yet to resolve.

Besides Wasior, rights violations had also occurred in Abepura in 2000, when the Mobile Brigade unit under the Papua Regional Police was reported to have arrested and tortured students accused of attacking a police station; and in Wamena in 2004, when the police and military conducted a brutal raid in search the Free Papua Movement members who allegedly looted a police arsenal.

“We will never resolve the violence in Papua unless the government humbly admits its role in the unending conflict there, and sets up an ad hoc human rights court and a KKR to repair its past wrongdoings,” Asvi said.

Echoing Asvi, fellow researcher Adriana Elizabeth also urged the House of Representatives Commission I overseeing defense and foreign affairs to immediately set up a working committee to thoroughly investigate the escalating violence in Papua and search for peaceful solutions.

“Leaders of the Commission have acknowledged the urgency of the working group. It’s best to start now because we can’t wait any longer. The situation in Papua is becoming more intense, especially after the police shot dead Papuan activist Mako Tabuni,” she said.

“Additionally, we also urge President Yudhoyono to waste no more time and take the initiative to hold a peace dialogue with representatives from Papua at once,” she added.

 

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