Indiscriminate shooting by Wamena police results in one dead and two injured

INDONESIA: Indiscriminate shooting by Wamena police results in one dead and two injured
Asian Human Rights Commission, 8 October 2010

Police in Wamena, Papua killed Ismail Lokobal, fired near fatal shots at Amos Wetipo (which resulted in him slipping into a coma) and Frans Lokobal and arrested of at least 4 more persons. The shootings into the crowd and following arrests in Wamena, Papua followed the confiscation of an air cargo delivery to a local community security organization. Organisation members protested at the airport office against the confiscation.

On 4 October 2010 at 8:30am the police at the airport post (KP3) of Wamena town, Papua confiscated a delivery meant for PETAPA (Guardians of the Land of Papua), an indigenous community security organization via Trigana Air's plane cargo service from PETAPA's headquarter in Jayapura. The delivery included uniforms for the organization members, Rp 40,000,000 (4500USD), a mobile phone and several documents. KP3 staff at Wamena airport admitted that "these items were detained at the request of the Wamena police who had already received a report that the items in question were under suspicion".

Two trucks with crowd control units of the police arrived along with other vehicles. The delivery items were immediately seized and Amos Wetipo, Head of PETAPA for Wamena area was interrogated. Seeing this situation develop, various members of PETAPA arrived at the KP3 airport office. As the situation escalated the police fired into the unarmed crowd of protesters. The sound of gunshots triggered panic. In the ensuing chaos, three people were shot, at least 4 people (Laorens Logo, Johanis Heselo, Aleks Wetapo, Oto Wetapo) were detained by the Jayawijaya Resort Police, and several more were wounded.

PETAPA member Ismail Lokobal, died at the scene of the incident of a bullet wound to his torso. (see photo here) It is reported that he had sought shelter in a nearby office of the Papuan Customary Council while police were shooting indiscriminately. Amos Wetibo was shot in the head after he refused to get down from a police truck. He was rushed to the hospital after he fell into a coma. Frans Lokobal was shot in his wrist and also brought to hospital.

A statement was released by John W. Wetipo (Regent of Jayawijaya), who judged that “this must be handled following the correct Indonesian legal procedure, because this incident is a human rights violation”, John was quoted from a cell phone conversation.

Following the tragic and violent incident the atmosphere in Wamena is reported to have become tense. On Tuesday October 6, 2010 military commander of the Cenderawasih Command Major-General Hotma Marbun announced that, as there are no more separatist groups in Papua control should now be in the hands of the police. However, on Wednesday October 7, 2010 fully armed combat troops of the securtity forces were reported to have patrolled the streets of Wamena as a show of force to discourage any unrest.

The Papuan Customary Council (DAP), an indigenous political body had organized the PETAPA to ensure the security of its members and also work for the security of the community. The PETAPA members are unarmed and many indigenous activists face threats and intimidations from the security forces.

Wamena, a central town in the Papuan highland region is heavily militarized and suffers from an oppressive climate due to the tense security situation. The AHRC had earlier reported about cases of killings and police violence from the area.