Police Sent to Papua, Attacks Continue

Police Sent to Papua, Attacks Continue

The Jakarta Globe
Farouk Arnaz & Christian Motte

Following a fatal attack on a police convoy in Puncak Jaya district, Papua Province, the National Police dispatched 80 members of the elite Mobile Brigade to the troubled province on Wednesday, a police officer said on Thursday.

"We sent 80 police enforcement from the Mobile Brigade to maintain peace and order in Papua Province," Insp. Gen. SY Wenas, deputy operation chief at National Police, said on Thursday.

"We will deploy more personnel if necessary," he said, adding that the elite police personnel came from the Mobile Brigade headquarters in Depok, West Java Province.

One police officer was killed and six others injured when armed men ambushed a police convoy in Tingginambut, Puncak Jaya district, on Wednesday, in the latest bloody attacks in the province, where a low-level separatist movement has been fighting for independence since the 1960s.

The attack came just days after armed groups, believed to be members of Free Papua Movement, attacked and killed four transmigrants in Wamena, Jayawijaya district.

Meanwhile, Comr. Marcelis, deputy chief of the Puncak Jaya district police, said that he and his team would go Tingginambut on Friday morning to investigate the crime scene.

"We will collect evidence and if it is possible we try to track down and arrest the suspects," he said.

Asked why it took them two days to reach the site of the shooting, Marcelis said: "It’s hard to get there. The location was up in the jungle where the attackers could fire at us again if we came without any protection and planning," he said.

Papua Police Chief Insp. Gen. Bagus Ekodanto said the series of bloody attacks in Papua was carried out by members of separatist group the Free Papua Movement, or OPM, led by Matias Wenda.

Leaders of the Union of Papuan Baptist Churches urged the National Police to arrest the perpetrators to prevent further bloody incidents in the country’s easternmost province. Socratez Sofyan Yoman, head of the union, said the series of incidents in Papua were premeditated acts.

"The union has studied all violence that occurred in the province recently and we suspect that this violence has been carefully planned and they arranged it systematically," he said.

Responding to the escalation of tension in Papua Province, security authorities, along with community and religious leaders, held a meeting at the Papua Military Command base in the capital, Jayapura, on Thursday, on invitation from the Commander of the Papua Military Command, Maj. Gen. AY Nasution and Chief of Papua Police Insp. Gen. FX Bagus Ekodanto.

The government and Papuan civic leaders appeared to have different opinions to law enforcement officials. The government insisted the incidents were individual crimes, while law enforcers believed they were organized and masterminded by the Free Papua Movement.

Papua Deputy Governor Alex Hasegem said at the meeting that the attack on the Mobile Brigade near the Kampung Lumbuk waterfall, two kilometers from Tingginambut, was an ordinary crime.

Agus Alue Alua, chair of the Papua People’s Assembly, agreed that the crimes were not committed by [members of] the Free Papua Movement.

Rusdi Marpaung, director of human rights nongovernmental organization Imparsial, said the violent incidents in Papua were linked to the election.

Rusdi also said that the ongoing turmoil in Papua Province was caused by the political elite’s decisions in Jakarta.