Jayapura. A person claiming to speak for the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) says members of the pro-independence group will soon surrender themselves to Indonesian authorities as proof of their innocence in relation to the series of shootings that have rocked Jayapura in recent weeks.
Victor Yeimo, who said he was the KNPB spokesman for international affairs, said the organization was not responsible for the attacks, which have killed at least eight people, mostly civilians.
Mako Tabuni, the deputy chairman of the KNPB, was shot dead on June 14 during a police raid to find those responsible for the attacks. He was accused of being one of the perpetrators.
A riot erupted in Jayapura the same day, soon after his death, in protest of the shooting.
The KNPB and Indonesian rights organizations alike have slammed Mako’s killing. Indonesian authorities have defended it, saying Mako tried to resist arrest and grab a gun belonging to a police officer.
By surrendering themselves to police, Victor said the KNPB hopes authorities will no longer find a reason to scapegoat its members.
“Police must investigate the mysterious shooters that have been doing all those actions instead of continually accusing the KNPB of being behind all of them. As proof of our non-involvement, all of the members of the KNPB are ready to turn ourselves in to the [Papua] Police,” Victor said in Jayapura on Thursday.
He alleged that a massive conspiracy was behind the shootings and subsequent KNPB scapegoating, accusing the central government of playing a major role, supported by the police and military.
“The police have accused the KNPB of being the perpetrator behind the series of shootings, but they can never legally prove the accusation. The KNPB, in our fight, never exercises a method of violence.
“If we used violence, then it is a setback to our fight,” Victor said, adding that if any KNPB member committed a violent act, they did so on an individual basis and not on behalf of the organization.
He did not mention exactly when the KNPB members would turn themselves in to the Papua Police, only saying it would be in the “near future.”