Authorities asked to probe series of attacks

Authorities asked to probe series of attacks

The Jakarta Post
by Nethy Dharma Somba and Angel Flassy

Churches and civil society groups asked security authorities to carry out a thorough investigation into the series of attacks and burning of vital assets, apparently aimed at creating political chaos during the legislative and presidential elections.

The Communion of Papuan Baptist Churches asked security authorities to arrest not only those involved in the series of violent attacks and burning of vital assets, but also the masterminds behind the incidents.

"The incidents have threatened peace and unity among numerous ethnic groups in the province. The incidents seem to be systematic, not only threatening the province's integration with other provinces, but also aiming to turn the province into a new killing field," Chairman of the Communion of Papuan Baptist Churches Socratez Sofyan Yoman said Thursday.

He explained the events in Biak, Nabire and Wamena could not be separated from the series of security disturbances and burning of buildings in the provincial capital. All the incidents were planned systematically, he said, "and we are suspicious of a certain group who has chosen the general elections as the moment to turn the province into a sea of blood."

Three buildings were burned down in the last week: a junior high school building in Wamena on Thursday, a Cenderawasih University hall on voting day and a provincial General Elections Commission

(KPUD) building in the city earlier this week.

The series of incidents, which was preceded by a pro-independence student demonstration in Nabire during the political campaign season, began with the burning of state-owned Pertamina's fuel depot in Biak a day before balloting day.

On voting day, a group of unidentified armed men launched an attack on Abepura Police station, leaving the city in a high state of alert, especially after rumors spread another series of attacks was being launched on vital assets in the city.

Jayapura Archbishop Mgr. Leo Laba Ladjar OFM Cap lamented the series of attacks on educational centers, saying those would disturb the emergence of future leaders in the province.

"The Catholic Church regrets the burning of the Cenderawasih University building and that of many schools," he said, adding violence was not a solution to any of the province's problems.

He said church leaders would hold a meeting with security authorities to discuss the tense situation in the province.

"The series of incidents have created public unrest and threatened the long-standing peace on Papua land," he said.

Rev. Neles Tebay, rector of the Fajar Timur Higher Institute of Philosophy and Theology in Abepura, Irian Jaya, warned against a certain group trying to foment social conflict between indigenous people and migrants.

He added the attacks were not linked with the secessionist movement because most people were enthusiastic about voting for the legislative elections, and many unregistered voters had demanded a rerun of the legislative elections to be able to vote.