Marten Luther Norotao was among the participants at last month’s Papuan People’s Congress. When police cracked down on the event on Oct. 19, he was slammed in the back of the head with a rifle butt.
An officer is alleged to have then forced the muzzle of his gun into Marten’s mouth and fired. The bullet shattered his teeth and ripped through his cheek. Miraculously, he survived.
Not as lucky was Martinus Yoristouw. He was shot in the buttock, but the bullet slalomed up toward his rib cage. He did not survive the wound.
There was no mercy for the women either. Salomina Mantanoi tried to flee the officers, but they caught her and allegedly beat her.
“The list is long,” Ifdhal Kasim, chairman of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), told the Jakarta Globe on Friday.
“There was Yuliana Yeuw, who suffered a gunshot to her leg; Dolfianus Boikawai, who was whipped with a rattan rod and rifle-butted. There were many others who were tortured but haven’t been identified.”
The violence all came two hours after the conclusion of the congress, where participants declared an independent West Papua and raised the banned Morning Star flag. They also declared their own currency and national language, and elected Forkorus Yoboisembut, chairman of the Papuan Customary Council (DAP), president of the West Papua National Authority.
The brutality of the crackdown prompted Komnas HAM to conduct an investigation. As was widely expected, the rights group has highlighted several clear instances of human rights violations by the security forces.
“The first is the violation of the right to life,” Ifdhal said.
“Three people were found dead near the location after the crackdown, with gunshot wounds. We haven’t been able to confirm whether [they were killed] by the police or military, but we demand that police forensics investigators do an examination and send the bullets to a laboratory for ballistics checks.”
Those found dead in a field near the local military headquarters have since been identified as Demianus Daniel Kadepa, Yakobus Samonsabra and Max Asa Yeuw.
Komnas HAM said the second human right violated was the right to live free from torture and violence. Ifdhal said many congress participants had been kicked, beaten and shot, which the commission described as a violation of the police’s standard operating procedures.
“The third violation is that of the right to property, because the security forces confiscated mobile phones, laptop computers, printers, cameras, cars, motorcycles and millions of rupiah in cash,” Ifdhal said.
“The fourth is the right to feel secure. The officers raided a Catholic monastery and seminary. They shot at the building and broke the windows when the monks refused to hand over alleged separatists to the police. This has resulted in many Papuans being afraid to go out because of the continued security checks and raids.”
In addition to the findings from its probe, which cleared the gathering as legal, Komnas HAM has also drawn up a list of recommendations for the president and the police to follow up on.
“We want the president to accelerate the dialogue with Papuan people who represent all tribal groups,” Ifdhal said. “The government should discuss the actual conditions faced by Papuans, instead of presuming that the Papuan people are only demanding independence. The Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua [UP4B] must work effectively and quickly. It must be able to accelerate development, a lack of which has caused a disparity in welfare.”
Another recommendation was for the government to evaluate the placement of what many critics contend is an excessive security presence in the area.
“We also recommend that the National Police chief investigate those officers who violated the human rights in this case,” Ifdhal continued. “He should also should call a halt to the ongoing security checks and raids. If the police want to uphold the law, they should do so according to the Criminal Code.”
The commission’s recommendations have no binding power.
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