NAPAS calls for Paniai police chief, military commander to be sacked

Source – August 23, 2012
Soldiers conducting checks on cars in Papua (Merdeka)
Soldiers conducting checks on cars in Papua (Merdeka)

Aditya Revianur, Jakarta – Speaking at a press conference in Jakarta, Papua National Solidarity (NAPAS) coordinator Martheen Goo called for the Panai district police chief and district military commander to be removed from their posts.

The call came following sweep operations by security forces in Paniai regency, West Papua, that have left the region in the grip of fear.

“The Paniai district police chief and the district military commander should be sacked because they have failed to maintain a peaceful situation”, said Goo at the offices of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) in Central Jakarta on Thursday August 23.

Goo explained that Paniai is in the grip of fear following the security sweeps, which have resulted in a series of arrests and the victimisation of ordinary civilians. The security forces should be conducting sweeps in the hills in order to catch the perpetrators of a spate of recent shootings, which according to officials are from the National Liberation Army (TPN), the armed wing of the Free Papua Movement (OPM).

The district police chief and district military commander, he continued, have failed and should be removed because conducting sweeps in city areas has resulted in damage to facilities. Security forces have even conducted sweeps on patients at the Paniai public hospital.

Even worse, explained Goo, they have reason to believe that when questioned by security forces in Paniai, civilians have been assaulted. “Yet the perpetrators are supposedly the TPN, not civilians who are then stigmatised by the security forces as if they are armed. The terrible thing is that security forces stigmatise [all] Papuan people as OPM, this is excessive”, he said.

Goo explained that based on the facts on the ground, the justification for the arrest of civilians in Paniai is unclear. Security forces have used armed force to conduct sweeps against and to arrest civilians. This has added to the already muddy situation in Paniai with many ordinary people increasingly afraid to carry out their normal activities.

The security forces, continued Goo, should be maintaining a favourable situation in Paniai and not be conducting security sweeps. Goo appealed to the TNI and police leadership to support peace in Papua by putting an end to the security sweeps within the city and adopting prudent measures to prevent incidents of violence. Ordinary civilians should not be victimised because the security forces are incompetent and unable to catch the perpetrators.

[NAPAS: Kapolres dan Dandim Paniai Sebaiknya Dicopot – Kamis, 23 Agustus 2012. Translated by James Balowski.]