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Abepura Prison Accused of Using Violence Towards Prisoners

Director of Abepura Prison and 14 of his staff accused of acts of violent towards prisoners

Bintang Papua, 13 December 2010

There is still no clear information with regard to two cases of violence that occurred in Abepura Prison in the past month and it is hoped that the police will carry out a serious investigation in order to explain these two incidents that have led to the security forces conducting sweepings throughout the district of Abepura. The need for a more humanitarian approach in dealing with the victims of these actions was stressed during a press conference held by Forum of People's Democracy (Forem) in Abepura on Monday.

The series of incidents included the shooting in Nafri and the enforced removal of five prisoners, Filep Karma, Buchtar Tabuni, Dominggus Pulalo, Lopez Karubaba and Eni Elopere which has raised questions by Forem, particularly why the men were forcibly transferred to police custody and to explain what their present status is.

Two of the prisoners are political prisoners while the other three are being held on criminal charges.

The five men were transferred by the police on Friday, 3 December at around 11pm, on the orders to Abepura prison director , Berthy Sitinjak. Up to this day, the prison authorities have failed to tell them the reason for their having being transferred to police custody. All the focus has been on the five men having allegedly provoked others in the prison to destroy things in the prison on that Friday afternoon. According to the prisoners themselves, these acts of destruction were an expression of their feelings of dissatisfaction with the attitude of the prison director who failed to tell them why five of their co-prisoners had fled from the prison on the same day at about 12 noon.

One of the men, Wiron Wetipo, was shot dead while Filep Karma and Buchtar Tabuni tried to calm people down, and asked to meet the director of the prison for an explanation as to what happened to the prisoner who was shot dead in Tanah Hitam.

According to Forem, as stated by Simon Yumame, Dominggus Pulalo, Lopez Karubaba and Eni Elopere were not involved in damaging prison facilities, yet even so, they were maltreated by prison director Berthy Sitinjak along with 14 members of his staff. These actions resulted in a damaged ear for Dominggus Pulalo and swellings on his head as a result of being kicked repeatedly all over this body.

According to Filep Karma and his co-prisoners, the five men who fled from the prison on Friday were criminal prisoners and were in no way connected with any political activities or the OPM. They had simply spent their time in the prison learning new skills and growing vegetables.

Forem has therefore urged the prison director Berthy Sitinjak and the deputy director of law and human rights to take responsibility and to ensure the return of the five prisoners so that they can serve the remainder of their sentences in Abepura Prison.and to explain publicly why the five prisoners were shot at even though they had been able to flee from the prison at a time when it was being heavily guarded. Forem also calls on the minister for law and human rights and the Diretor-General of prisons to take firm action against the director of the prison for the arbitrary acts of violence taken against the prisoners in Abepura Prison.

According to Forem, at their press conference, the prison authorities have shown that they are incapable of giving proper guidance to the prisoners; on the contrary, they have caused widespread anxiety among the prisoners against the police and army for opening fire on prisoners that resulted in the death of Wiron Wetipo.

These two serious incidents, the shooting in Nafri and the flight of the prisoners, means that the army and the police should conduct a full investigation into the Nafri shooting and other matters, that violence should not be resorted to and they should behave in a more professional way and in accordance with the law, so as not to create an atmosphere of fear among the prisoners.

The prisoner director, when asked about the accusations being made against his staff for using violence in the prison, showed no interest in the matter, saying simply that it was okay for the prisons to express their views about allegations that the prison staff used violence. The truth was, according to him, that they had thrown things around in the prison office. 'Which is why was they have been moved to police custody for their involvement in the events of 3 December, and their cases are now being taken forward by the police.


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