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Indonesia Must Act Over Papua Rights Abuses

The Jakarta Globe November 17, 2009

Activists Want Indonesia to Act Over Papua Rights Abuses

by Markus Junianto Sihaloho

Activists on Monday urged the government to push the police in their stalled investigations of a number of human rights violations in Papua, particularly the murder of Opinus Tabuni, who was killed in August 2008.

Haris Azhar, deputy chairman of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), said that nothing significant had been turned up in police investigations into the murder of Opinus, which began last December.

“The government should take a stance in terms of legal enforcement in this case, and other human rights violations,” Haris said.

Opinus was shot and killed as he attended a celebration of the United Nations International Day of the World’s Indigenous People in Wamena on Aug. 9, 2008.

Shots were fired after a small number of participants raised the Morning Star, the flag of the West Papuan pro-independence movement, triggering chaos in the middle of the festival.

An investigation team from the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas-HAM) found that local military and intelligence officers were present at the incident.

Haris also said the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) had received reports of violence perpetrated by police officers against people holding peaceful demonstrations in Papua.

Most recently, he said, police officers attacked a demonstration being held by members of the motorcycle taxi community and the Bau Bau Legal Aid Institute in Bau Bau city, Papua, last month, injuring six protesters.

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Though an internal police inquiry is being conducted into the case, Haris said a criminal investigation was necessary.

“Papuans will always be targeted through such violent acts if the attacks are not seriously investigated by security agencies,” he said, adding that police needed to complete their investigations into the murder of Opinus as they were obligated to do so.

Ridha Saleh, deputy chairman of Komnas-HAM, agreed, saying on Monday that the police needed to finish their investigations into any human rights violation, particularly the Opinus Tabuni case.

He said Komnas-HAM had already handed over results of its own investigation into the murder, along with the commission’s recommendations, to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the National Police.

Separately, Army spokesman Brig. Gen. Christian Zebua said the military would not influence investigations of criminal cases, including those occurring in Papua.

“If evidence is found that a soldier had a hand in the incident, we will respect all legal procedures,” Zebua said.

Meanwhile, it was reported that a Morning Star flag flew for 30 minutes in front of the Papuan People’s Consultative Assembly in Jayapura on Monday, before the police removed it and arrested three people.

ENDS

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