Military operation blocking investigation into Papua shootings

Tempo Interactive – November 3, 2004
Theatrical action calling for end to military operations in Papua (Tribune)
Theatrical action calling for end to military operations in Papua (Tribune)

Eworaswa, Jakarta – The fatal shooting on September 14 in Mulia, Puncak Jaya, in which four civilians were killed, has left behind feelings of deep fear. The Commission for Victims of Disappearances and Violence (Kontras) is urging the government and the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) to immediately conduct an independent investigation into the case.

Kontras working coordinator, Usman Hamid, says he regrets the attitude that has taken by the government and Komnas HAM who have failed to take the initiative even though [Komnas HAM] as an independent institution has a great deal of authority. “They have left it to the security forces to monopolize the response to the Mulia case” he said. As a consequence, this has created controversy and questions have been raised by the public about who the perpetrators are, the Free Papua Organisation (OPM) or the military?

According to Hamid, the pursuit of the OPM members by troops following the incident which occurred in the Village of Goradi, Tinggi Nambut, Illu District in the Puncak Jaya Regency, only increased the public’s sense of fear. Furthermore, a document has been circulated written by Socrates Sofyan Yoman, the head of the local Baptist Church which claims that “The Puncak Jaya case is pure military manipulation”.

The four page document describes the chronology of the incident and the reasons the TNI is conducting a military operation. According to Yoman, the Indonesian military is aiming to manipulate the Mulia case to: justify the presence of military posts along the length of the Trans Road between the regencies of Wamena and Puncak Jaya and the creation of a new battalion in the Central Highlands, to terrorise Papuan citizens and to get their hands on 2.52-5 billion rupiah in special autonomy funds along with creating public mistrust against the regent who holds the civilian post.

Hamid said that it is difficult to believe the statement. “So much of what is said by the military or the OPM is hard to believe, so their needs to be evidence, and the [best] way [to get this is to conduct] an independent investigation”, he said.

Hamid suggested that for the duration of the investigation, which could be carried out by Komnas HAM, troops should be temporarily withdrawn. “Don’t conduct military operations. The TNI must create conditions which are conducive to the investigation. So that people don’t flee the highlands. What would happen if a key witness disappeared or died?”, he asked.

[Translated by James Balowski.]