Military must investigate Papua shootings: Ministry

Military must investigate Papua shootings: Ministry
The Jakarta Post, 17 January 2011

By: Ina Parlina

The military must conduct a thorough investigation of a shooting incident left two civilians dead in Papua on Friday, the Defense Ministry says.

“We cannot conclude yet what happened there or why the incident occurred without first investigating it,” Defense Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. I Wayan Midhio said on Sunday.

Wayan claimed that his office had not received information about the incident that occurred on Friday morning in a border security post in Nasem village of Merauke, Papua.

Klemen Samkakai and Amandus Galum were killed by gunfire after allegedly storming into a border security post at around 7 a.m. on Friday. The post was guarded by infantry battalion 132/Bima Sakti,
The two civilians allegedly tried to seize weapons from the post and shot First Private Sukirman with bow and arrow, hitting his left arm. The men also allegedly threatened the guards with a machete.

Jayapura’s Cendrawasih Military Command official Lt. Col. Harry Priyatna said he believed that the attack was not political, calling it “purely a crime”. “There are strong allegations that the two men tried to seize control over the military’s firearms,” he said as quoted by Kompas daily.

He added that the two men were former convicts and often threatened the villagers.

Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial) program director Al Araf asserted the importance of conducting an independent investigation of the incident to determine whether it was solely an issue of self-defense by the army or a violation of human rights.

He said the investigation should also determine whether the army conducted itself properly in allegedly firing weapons that claimed civilian lives.

Al Araf said that the military officers could only fire their weapons if their lives were seriously threatened and only as a last resort. He added that the best practice was to shoot to disable.

“Therefore, we have to see the incident as objectively as possible, since Papua is very prone to incidents between the military and the Papuans,” he added.

There have been three recent cases of human rights violations in Papua, involving military who allegedly tortured civilians and allegedly killed Papuan Reverend Kindeman Gire.

He urged the government, including the House of Representatives, to evaluate the situation in Papua, where the military and Papuans often clashed.