US Envoy Disappoints Papuan Activists by Not Probing Abuses

US Envoy Disappoints Papuan Activists by Not Probing Abuses

, 7 October 2010


Papuan activists said they were disappointed that US Ambassador Scot Marciel did not investigate human rights violations during his visit to Papua this week.

“We truly appreciate that Western countries are starting to pay attention to Papua, particularly after the flood,” Salmon Jumane, of the Forum for Democracy in Papua, told the Jakarta Globe.

“But the ambassador should have also addressed cases of violence from military oppression and police extra-judicial killings.”

His comments came after three members of the Papuan Caretakers Movement (Petapa) were shot and killed on Monday after a dispute at an airport.

Marciel this week met Papua leaders to evaluate the province’s special autonomy.

The meeting came after senior US officials last month pledged to look into allegations of abuse in the restive provinces of Papua and West Papua.

On Wednesday, the ambassador met Agus Alue, speaker of the Papuan People’s Consultative Assembly (MRP), to discuss implementation of the special autonomy program.

“The United States wanted to see first hand the developments in Papua, particularly in the field of education and health,” Marciel said on Wednesday.

On Thursday, he went to several locations and held talks with local NGOs.

Marciel also visited flood victims in Wasior, West Papua.

Salmon said that although it had been almost two years since the last armed conflict between security forces and members of the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM), cases of violence against unarmed civilians, activists and journalists in Papua continued to intensify.

The latest incident on Monday was in the remote city of Wamena, where police stationed at an airport shot and killed three people and arrested several others.

There have been conflicting reports as to what had happened, particularly whether those who were shot had been armed.

Provincial police spokesman Sr. Comr. Wahyono said Petapa members were attacking officers with stones and sharp objects after some passengers refused to have their bags checked.

But Dominikus Sorabut, from the Papuan Customary Council (DAP), said the men were only shipping berets as part of the Petapa uniform and police had confiscated the bags because they also contained Rp 40 million ($4,480) in cash.

“Petapa coordinator Amos Wetipo then came to the police station to reclaim the shipment. There was a quarrel after police refused to return them despite finding no contraband like the Morning Star Flag,” Dominikus told the Globe.

Police abruptly opened fire and captured Amos and another Petapa official, while other officers chased those who ran away, Dominikus said.

Amos and Petapa official Frans Lokobal were shot for supposedly refusing to step down from a police truck en route to Jayawijaya district police headquarters.

The DAP also sent pictures to the Globe of Ismail Lokobal, 34, who was shot and killed in front of the DAP office, one kilometer from the police station, as he was running from the police.

The pictures, which cannot be published due to their graphic nature, show that Ismail was shot in the chest.

Poengki Indarti, executive director of Jakarta-based human rights group Imparsial, demanded a full investigation into the shootings and urged Jakarta to end oppression of the indigenous people of Papua.

“Jakarta has to change its paradigm and stop exerting violence against non-violent movements and peaceful demonstrations,” she said.

“Incidents and conflicts like these can be easily resolved through dialogue or legal means, not through bloodshed.”