Incidents in Papua prior to 2009 elections

Incidents in Papua prior to 2009 elections

Translated by TAPOL
Press Release
Indra Fernida A, Deputy Coordinator
Syamsul Alam Agus
Division of Politics, Law and Human Rights.

Avoid Conflicts and Halt Repression against Civil Society

Kontras regrets the occurrence of several incidents of violence prior to the elections in Papua which have spread a sense of anxiety among Papuan people. The latest was an incident last night when eight students were arrested following an attack on the head office of the police in Abepura and a fire at the office of the Rector of Cenderawasih University in Waena.

The police declared that the conflict in Papua would be subject to special handling during the election period. However a number of incidents have occurred. Such special treatment should not lead to acts of violence and violations of human rights.

KontraS has received the following reports of recent incidents:

On 7 April: The arrest of Markus Haluk, secretary-general of the Leadership Council of the Association of Students from the Central Highlands, on charges of spreading information and provocation for calling for a boycott of the election in Papua. On 8 April: The killing of three members of the public in Wamena, with two others critically injured and now being treated at Wamena Hospital On 8 April at 11pm, rumours circulated that a member of the police force had been stabbed by an unidentified person near Youfeta Market, Abepura. In response, the police conducted sweepings of everyone along the main roads. On 8 April at 1.30am, a group of unidentified people attacked the head office of the police in the vicinity of Abepura and one person was shot dead. On 8 April at 2.30am, the Rector's Building at Cendrawasih University was burnt down by unidentified people. Police conducted sweepings which resulted in the arrest of eight students at the Minmin Students Mess, one of whom sustained gunshot wounds.

The 2009 elections represent a step in the direction of democratisation. Although they have been involved in a number of conflicts, the people of Papua are entitled to enjoy a time of peace during the period of the elections.

We call on all sides to exercise restraint and avoid the use of violence. At the same time, we call on the security forces, in particular the police, to uphold professional standards and respect the human rights of those people who are critical of the 2009 elections. We are very much afraid that excessive behaviour by the police which has been part of the problem in Papua up until the present has been incited by provocative actions by outside elements.

In particular, we request that the additional forces for the army and police as instructed by the chief of police of Indonesia should not lead to the conflict spreading and there should be no further acts of violence. In addition, we urge that these events should not result in further acts of repression against the people in general.