19 October 2011

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

(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."


Dozens Injured as Papua Group Declares Independence from Indonesia

Banjir Ambarita & Camelia Pasandaran | October 19, 2011

Jayapura. Dozens of people have been injured after Indonesian security forces pistol whipped or beat protesters with rattan canes and batons during a peaceful protest against Indonesian rule in Papua on Wednesday.

There are as yet no reports of deaths after security forces, including the Indonesian Military (TNI), opened fire during the Papuan Peoples’ Congress in Jayapura. The number of injured cannot be confirmed.

Journalists were among those beaten, including at least one cameraman as he attempted to film the chaos.

Police, meanwhile, confirmed they had made dozens of arrests after a group of Papuan leaders declared independence and raised the Morning Star flag.

Papuan Customary Council chairman Forkorus Yaboisembut, who proclaimed himself president of a “free Papua,” and Edison Waromi, the prime minister, were among those detained, Papuan Police spokesman Wachyono told the Jakarta Globe.

Markus Haluk, a member of the Papuan Customary Council (DAP) that attended the congress, told the Globe that Forkorus and Edison had been elected to their positions during the congress.

He said that not long after the independence declaration was made, police fired shots into the air, causing widespread panic.

“The Indonesian government should learn that shooting will not solve the problem,” he said.

Wachyono said Forkorus and Edison had been “secured” for breaching the permit for the three-day congress, which was due to close on Wednesday.

“On the first day they raised the Morning Star flag and on the closing day they declared independence for Papua,” he said, adding the actions contravened the permit.

He said the suspects faced possible treason charges.

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