Police reported to have shot, wounded 11 in West Papua

Police reported to have shot, wounded 11 in West Papua

The Southeast Asian Times

An immigration and police officer escorts one of four Dutch journalists detained while attending a pro-independence rally in Jayapura, West Papua, 3,800 kilometres northeast of Jakarta on Tuesday, March 24. Indonesia’s Foreign Minister, Hassan Wirajuda, accused the quartet of having abused the condition of their tourist visas. “It’s wrong when a foreigner comes to Indonesia using tourist visa, but in fact he’s a journalist and carries out journalistic activities,” the minister said. The four were in the disputed province for the return of a founder of the pro-independence Free Papua Movement, Nicholas Jouwe, 85, after more than 40 years in exile in the Netherlands. The returnee argued for peace between the Indonesian government and Papuans but refused to explicitly renounce Papuan independence. The journalists were identified as Elske Schouten, the Jakarta-based reporter for the NRC Handelsblad newspaper, and Gabrielle Babette, Peter Mariaw Smith and Ronald Wigman of the VPRO television network.

From News Reports:

Nabire, April 8: Police are reported to have shot and wounded 11 people at a rally in support of Indonesia’s parliamentary elections tomorrow and its presidential elections on July 8.

The violence has prompted the Sydney-based Australia West Papua Association to ask the Australian Government to send observers to investigate.

“The Australian Government says it continuous to raise the human rights situation in West Papua with the Indonesian Government, however, from recent events just raising the issue is not enough,” says its secretary Joe Collins.

“The Australian Government should immediately send observers from the Australian embassy in Jakarta to report to the government on the current situation in the territory. “This visit should be followed by a cross-party delegation to investigate the human rights situation there.”

“At least 11 people were shot and brought to the hospital,” the Reuters news agency quoted Nabire Regional Public Hospital worker Marsel as saying.

“One of them was a primary school-aged child.”

Marsel said the condition of one of the wounded was critical.

West Papuan National Committee member Habel Nawipa said a police dawn raid on the pro-independence organisation’s Nabire office helped spark the rally.

“Several armed police set fire to the office and took 15 people to the Nabire police station,” he said.

Reuters said Nabire police chief Rinto Djatmono declined to respond to the accusation.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that at least four of the protesters were wounded.

It quoted protest organiser Yones Douw as saying the police fired at about 200 indigenous Papuans rallying in the streets of Nabire on West Papua’s southern coast.

“The people didn't react or throw anything but Brimob [paramilitary police] attacked them,” he said.

National police spokesman Abubakar Nataprawira said: “Those wounded were police, three of them. A police car was destroyed.”