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Rights body suspects cops used live rounds in Indonesia's Ogan Ilir

Publication Date : 06-08-2012


The Indonesian Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) "strongly suspect" that police officers fired live rounds into crowds of unarmed civilians while containing a land dispute with local residents in Ogan Ilir, South Sumatra, on July 27.

The Commission announced yesterday that its investigators despatched to the remote regency came to their conclusions after examining those injured in the mayhem.

"We strongly suspect that live rounds were used, judging by the shape of the injuries on Farida and Rusman," Komnas HAM deputy chairman Nur Kholis said yesterday, referring to two victims.

Nur Kholis called for a thorough investigation of conflicting accounts of the incident.

An investigative team despatched by the National Police claimed that officers in the Mobile Brigade on the scene fired shots only after they were threatened by residents, who have said that they posed no threat to the heavily armed police commandos in the special operations unit.

The investigation followed the death of Angga bin Dharmawan in clash between police and residents of Limbang Jaya I, II and III in Tanjung Batu district in Ogan Ilir, South Sumatra.

The 12-year-old boy was reportedly shot in the head and died immediately, while four others were also injured by gunfire.

The police say they have yet to find any bullet in the body of Angga.

"So far we have decided that the boy was wounded by a sharp object. We couldn't say he was shot because we have found no bullet projectile in his body," National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Agus Rianto said recently.

The police said that based on questioning more than 120 Mobile Brigade officers involved in the Ogan Ilir violence, there was no police involvement in the boy's death.

Meanwhile, human rights watchdog groups condemned the shooting, deeming it a serious human rights violation.

"This incident was an attack on civilians, not a conflict between police and protestors. The fact that innocent women and children were injured indicates that authorities shot blindly and indiscriminately," Deddy Ratih, from the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), told The Jakarta Post yesterday.

"That, along with the way they generally overreacted to events that occurred, is evidence of serious human rights violations," Ratih said.

Separately, the Commission for Missing Person and Victims of Violence (Kontras) said that it had gathered evidence that Angga was shot at a close range, and not at long range by a stray bullet, as police have suggested.

Kontras said in a statement that Angga was shot with live rounds at a range of 30 to 60 metres, while the police claim that the boy was 200 metres away from the clash.

Given the conflicting accounts, Kontras urged Komnas HAM to determine if the police committed a human rights violations in Ogan Ilir.

"Since a human rights violation has occurred, it means that this issue should be resolved by institutions outside of the National Police," Kontras coordinator Haris Azhar said.

The attempts of residents in several villages in Ogan Ilir to reclaim disputed land managed by state-owned plantation company PT Perkebunan Nusantara VII Cinta Manis has led to several outbursts of violence in recent years.

Rights groups have urged the police to keep their distance and not to intervene in agrarian conflicts between local residents and the firm.


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