Tuesday, December 23, 2014

1) Soldiers had role in shooting: Komnas HAM

2) Commentary: A Tale of Two Shootings



1) Soldiers had role in shooting:  Komnas HAM
Margareth S. Aritonang, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Tue, December 23 2014, 9:19 AM
The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has demanded that the government immediately set up a joint fact-finding team involving the national rights body, the Indonesian Military (TNI), the National Police and local leaders to probe the recent shootings in Paniai, Papua, after a Komnas HAM investigation confirmed soldiers were the primary cause.

Komnas HAM’s investigative team declared that the violent incident, which left five civilians dead and injured another 30, could have been prevented if soldiers had not exercised force in response to what Komnas HAM called a “minor notice” from the locals.

Confirming previous reports, the investigative team found that the initial provocation took place on the evening of Dec. 7 when a soldier, allegedly a member of the Uwibutu 753 Special Team military command post, driving a black SUV, was scolded by local children for not turning on his headlights when passing by a Christmas hut at a church 
in Enarotali.

Angered, the soldier returned to the site with eight of his fellow soldiers and beat the children, injuring 11 of them aged between eight and 16 years old. All of the minors are currently hospitalized at a local hospital.

“It was just a little thing, and the soldiers responded excessively,” Nur Kholis, a member of the investigative team, told the press on Monday.

The violence that evening led to further violence.

The next day, locals blocked the main road and disrupted traffic in Enarotali city in protest at the soldiers’ brutality, demanding their arrest. But the protest later turned chaotic after gunshots were heard.

Four male teenagers aged 16 and 17 years old were shot dead on the spot during the incident. The deceased were identified as Alpius Youw, Alpius Gobay, Simon Degey and Yulian Yeimo. A fifth youth died later in hospital.

The incident also resulted in injuries to 11 other locals, three policemen and seven soldiers.

Komnas HAM’s investigation has yet to identify whether the gunshots were fired by members of the police or the TNI, who were at the location for security reasons.

While the locals suffered from gunshot wounds, members of the police and the TNI were injured by stones thrown by the locals.

“We found no serious threats during the incident that would justify the police and the TNI using such excessive force to deal with the crowd,” Maneger Nasution, who led the investigative team, insisted. 

Security officers should have used a different approach when dealing with a conflict-prone area like Papua, he added.

“Using violence is not a good approach,” Maneger said.

Maneger explained that the investigation, which was conducted from Dec. 12 to 15, excluded the TNI’s version of story, as the latter had refused to provide information to Komnas HAM during the process.

However, according to TNI spokesman Maj. Gen. Fuad Basya, the TNI had yet to receive any requests from Komnas HAM regarding the matter.

Fuad told The Jakarta Post that the TNI had set up its own investigative team, which was still conducting an inquiry into the incident.

“We’ve heard about the alleged assault against the children. We don’t want to draw conclusions until our [investigative] team has concluded its work. However, for the time being, much of the information circulated against our members is questionable. For example, why would a soldier drive at night without headlights?” Fuad said.

He explained that the investigation was expected to reveal all details regarding the violent incident including the shooting of the teenagers.

“We will look very carefully at whether the shooting violated procedure. If not, then it was necessary for the sake of security. But again, let’s wait until the investigation is completed,” Fuad said.

Besides the separate investigations by the TNI and Komnas HAM, the Papua Police is also conducting its own investigation into the matter.

The central government, meanwhile, has yet to take action in response to the incident.



2) Commentary: A Tale of Two Shootings

Students protesting against the government’s security-dominated approach in Papua, in Malang, East Java, on Friday. (Antara Photo/Ari Bowo Sucipto)
Australia still mourns the death of two hostages killed last week in downtown Sydney after a horrific 16-hour siege only a few blocks from the Human Rights Watch Australia office. Sydney police are in the midst of an exhaustive investigation, covered by local and foreign media, to determine what exactly happened and how to prevent such tragedies.
Just days before, I had been in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, where media reported on five peaceful protesters being shot dead in the remote town of Enarotali in Indonesia’s far eastern province of Papua. A sixth protester died two days later from gunshot wounds. This was also a horrific and tragic loss of life, especially since four of the dead were high school students, shot down in their grey-and-white school uniforms. Five of the 17 wounded in the incident were primary school students.
Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that on the morning of Dec. 8, about 800 Papuan young men, women and school children gathered near the local police station and military command.  They were demanding an explanation for the alleged beating of a 12-year-old boy the night before by a group of soldiers. The protesters, some carrying ceremonial Papuan hunting bows that have a purely ritual function, expressed their grievance through a traditional Papuan waita dance, which involves shouting, running in circles and mimicking birdsong.

(JG Graphics/Josep Tri Ronggo)

The police ordered the protesters to disperse and then struck them with batons and sticks when they refused to comply. Police and military personnel then fired live ammunition into the crowd. The Papua police chief, Insp. Gen. Yotje Mende, told the media that his officers were only “securing” their station because it was under attack. Police have claimed officers were acting in self-defense and suggested that unknown gunmen on a nearby mountainside had fired the shots killing the protesters.
As accounts from witnesses and the police are at odds, what is needed is for Indonesian authorities to promptly open an independent and impartial investigation. While the Sydney siege was dominated by extensive media coverage, in Papua, no video record of the Enarotali shootings is known to exist.
Enarotali is far from the beaten path, lacking cell phone and Internet coverage. And Papua is effectively closed off to foreign journalists and human rights monitors. Official permission for such access is required, but rarely granted. Earlier this year, the authorities detained two French journalists for more than two months for allegedly violating the terms of their tourist visas by attempting to report on Papua. Security forces in Papua threaten and harass local journalists when they report on “sensitive” topics such as protests.
Papuan activists in Jakarta protesting the Enarotali killings on Dec. 10, Human Rights Day, told me they were upset by newly elected President Joko Widodo’s deafening silence on the Papua shootings. Marthen Goo said: “Any peaceful protest is repressed in Papua. We are sick of the violence. And if we complain, we are labeled by officials as sympathizers with OPM [the separatist Free Papua Organization]. We thought things with Jokowi [as the president is popularly known] would be different, but there’s no change.”
Almost two weeks since the Papua shootings, Joko has failed to speak out about the killings. That casts doubt on hiscampaign promise to give “special attention” to Papua to help ease the “political tension” there. Instead, the government persists in its near-suffocating security response to Papuan civilians’ demands for basic human rights. Over the last three years alone, Human Rights Watch has documented dozens of cases in which police, military, intelligence officers, and prison guards have used excessive force when dealing with Papuans exercising their rights to peaceful assembly and association.
Joko plans to visit Papua by the end of the year. That trip will give him an opportunity to make good on his election promise to address the festering tensions in Papua. The president needs to reset the Indonesian government’s failed Papuan polices, and promise an independent and impartial investigation into the killings at Enarotoli and prosecutions for  all those responsible for wrongdoing.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott should reach out to Joko in the spirit of two leaders grappling with lives tragically lost. Abbott should tell him to reassure Papuans that their president recognizes their lives matter, and that until all Papuans’ rights are fully respected, more grave tragedies are bound to occur.
Elaine Pearson is Australia director at Human Rights Watch. Follow her on twitter @pearsonelaine

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