Pacific Scoop

Fresh reports of violence in West Papua as miners shot

New footage of the crackdown by Indonesian security forces on the Papuan People’s Congress last month. Video: SBS World News

Pacific Scoop:
Report – by Banjir Ambarita in Jayapura

A clash between Indonesian security forces and a “small armed group” in a gold mine during the weekend is believed to have left one person dead, say police. But activists claim the death toll could be as high as eight.

Papua police spokesman Sr. Comr. Wachyono said local police had clashed with the armed group believed to be headed by Salmon Yogi at the Tayaga-Baya Biru gold mine in the district of Paniani, Bogobaida subdistrict, on Saturday morning.

“They were out to attack the mining location and police were only there to prevent them. An armed clash could not be avoided,” Wachyono said yesterday. He said that on November 11 the owner of the gold mine, Boy Rakinaung, received a letter from a group demanding payment of Rp 40 million ($4,400) and giving him 14 days to pay it. The letter was then provided to the police, who acted on the information.

This was why, Wachyono said, seven members of the Baya Biru police had stood guard at the Tagaya bridge before dawn on Saturday morning.

At around 7.30 am a group of armed men appeared, heading toward the mine, and gunfire erupted. One member of the group was shot and is believed to be dead, according to the police.

Search for body
Salmon is a leader of one of the factions of the Free Papua Organisation (OPM), which has been sustaining a low-intensity, uncoordinated and badly-armed pro-independence guerrilla struggle in West Papua since the 1960s.

“The identity of the victim who got shot is unknown because he then fell into the river and his body was swept away by the strong currents. A search to locate the body is still ongoing,” Wachyono said.

Matius Murib, deputy chairman of the Papua chapter of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), said the shooting incident had left eight people killed.

“We have the evidence and we will soon conduct an on-site identification,” Matius said, adding that the reason for the shootings remained unclear.

He identified the victims as Matias Tenouye, 30; Simon Adii, 35; Petrus Gobai, 40; Joel Ogetai, 30; Benjamin Gobai, 25; Marius Madai, 35; Matias Anoka, 40 and Yus Pigome, 50.

‘Serious violation’

“This is a serious human rights violation and the state should be accountable,” he said.

John Gobay, a respected figure in the Paniai district, said that he had also heard eight people were killed in the incident.

“This case should be comprehensively investigated by an independent team because the police often blames the OPM as triggering the problem,” he said.

Komnas HAM chairman Ifdhal Kasim has called for the government to reduce the number of security personnel, police and soldiers deployed in Papua to help alleviate the tension in the area and create a sense of security for the local people.

Reducing security
He said that reducing the number of security personnel would also lower the potential for mistreatment and abuse of the local people.

“The addition of reinforcement troops will only have an excessive impact on the potential of human rights violations taking place,” Ifdhal said.

Security personnel in Papua have been accused of involvement in a series of human-rights violations, especially against civilians. The accusations include the shooting of participants at a pro-independence meeting near Jayapura last month that left six people dead.

Haris Azhar, a coordinator of human rights group Kontras, said that in the past two months the police were linked to 18 cases of violence and torture, and Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) members were linked to 40.

He also questioned ongoing military operations in Papua despite not having sought the approval of the House of Representatives as required by law.

Source: Jakarta Globe

1 comment:

  1. Dale Lanan, 20. November 2011, 4:33

    The whole world is walking into ambush if there isn’t the presence of an unfettered free press and respect for human rights everywhere.. People don’t know if this was simply a case of a group going to pick up wages due or what the circumstances were of the ambush only that killing happened.. The different casualty numbers with police reports fairly consistently low balling and a steady trickle of conflicting information getting smuggled out doesn’t meet muster.. Essentially equating a price on things in gold or some other exchange rate instead of allowing the natural world to hold value in its own right forces people to abandon the long standing ways of living with the land that have held sustainable in the case of Papua for some 40k yrs at least without destroying the place..