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Continuing Attacks Point to Injustice of Arrests

The injustice of arrests of Papuans in July, purportedly for attacks on Freeport personnel, was underscored since then by a continuation of those attacks. Despite police arrest of seven Papuans in July, two more Freeport personnel and one solider were wounded in attacks in October as they travelled on the road connecting Timika and the mine site at Tembagapura. Such attacks have continued every few weeks since the July arrests.

Media reports noted that two miners were wounded October 20 when three security-escorted buses were ambushed between mile 41 and mile 42 of a road leading to the Grasberg mine, the world's largest gold and copper mine. In addition a soldier was wounded when a joint patrol unit was ambushed by gunmen in Kali Kopi on the Timika-Tembagapura road on October 21.

As pointed out in an article in an October 23 Bintang Papua, the shooting incidents have taken place within a relatively small area in which as many as 1,320 Indonesian security personnel have been deployed. Moreover, the TNI and police have established joint command posts along the Timika-Tembagapura road on which the attacks are taking place.

Anastasia Tegeke, a member of Commission A of the DPRP-Mimika, noted that the authorities had arrested dozens of local Papuans in July, purportedly because of their involvement in the shootings. The incidents have nonetheless continued. Drawing attention to the failure of the beefed-up security forces to stop the incidents, Tegeke added: "many thousands of personnel were now operating in the area, using much of the money that has been allocated to development in the region." His comment added to speculation that the chronic security problem served to provide extra income to the extra Indonesian security forces deployed to the region.

Meanwhile, local Papuan resistance leader Kelly Kwalik in a meeting with State security officials categorically denied that Papuan pro-independence fighters were behind the attacks. His denial of responsibility has been supported by police officials who have countered initial claims by military officials that the attacks were the work of the pro-independence fighters.

Also during the third week of October there was growing popular anger at Freeport as families of Papuan workers at Freeport demonstrated to demand better security for workers. They marched to the Regional Legislative Council office in Mimika and staged a rally. Although the police declared the demonstration illegal, they refrained from making arrests when the Council agreed to meet with the demonstrators. Some workers reportedly have decided to strike Freeport operations pending provision of adequate security.


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