Thursday, February 16, 2012

Unsolved West Papua killings hold up development, says legislator

Report – By Nethy Dharma Somba in Jayapura

The repeated shooting incidents in West Papua and the fact that none of the perpetrators has been caught have severely hampered development in the province, according to a local legislator who has called on the police and military to immediately solve the cases.

“The shootings in Papua, especially in Timika and Puncak Jaya, must be immediately stopped to create a conducive climate in the province, so as not to hamper development and create a positive condition to accelerate development,” said Papua Legislative Council speaker John Ibo at the opening of a plenary session in Jayapura.

The shootings, taking place since 2009 at the PT Freeport Indonesia (FI) mining concession area in Timika, Papua, have killed 15 people and injured at least 59 others.

This year alone, three shootings have taken place and claimed the lives of two PT FI employees and one police Mobile Brigade member.

Papua police deputy chief Inspector-General Paulus Waterpauw has called on the public to cooperate and support the police to help solve the cases, otherwise the investigation could be delayed.

“Hopefully, we can discover the perpetrators as well as their motives,” Waterpauw told reporters.

Indonesian Human Rights Watch (Imparsial) director and human rights observer Poengky Indarti said the violence in Papua, especially the shootings, was politically motivated and intended to disrupt security in Papua so that it remained a conflict-prone area.

“Please bear in mind that the violent acts in Timika were not the first. Prior to the legislative and presidential elections, various acts of violence took place in Papua. The violence in Papua could be a serial case, but also a series of interrelated violence in order to create insecurity in Papua,” Poengky told The Jakarta Post via email.

Acts of terror
She said the recurrent acts of terror in Timika had been planned and committed by trained people, especially when security forces imposed control and tight security to ensure security and success during the elections.

“Security personnel have always blamed the Free Papua Movement [OPM] for being behind the shootings, and even as an excuse to hunt down and kill Kelly Kwalik. Various civilians were also caught and detained, but the authorities failed to prove their involvement and had to let them go,” she added.

The shootings have prevailed until now.

Given that security is very tight at PT FI, with only those given permission by security personnel allowed to enter the area, the failure to identify and arrest the perpetrators is considered strange. Therefore, Imparsial has urged security personnel not to be so quick to blame the OPM for the violence in Timika.

Poengky said there were several other possible reasons for the shootings, such as Papua getting the impacts of the political tension in Jakarta and business competition of security services, keeping in mind the security disturbances at PT FI.

Imparsial has urged the National Police to be stern in law enforcement efforts so as to resolve the violence at PT FI in particular and Timika in general, so people in Timika and Papuans can live in peace.

Imparsial has also urged civil authorities in Papua to play an active role in helping to create a conducive situation in Papua and nurture a sense of security among the people of Papua, especially in Timika.

Source: The Jakarta Post