According to Amnesty International, Indonesian security forces have committed nearly 100 extrajudicial killings in Papua and West Papua since 2010. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Killings by Security Forces Rife in Papua: Amnesty International


JULY 02, 2018

Jakarta. Indonesian security forces have committed nearly 100 extrajudicial killings in Papua and West Papua since 2010, with little to no accountability, a new report from human rights organization Amnesty International revealed on Monday (02/07).

The report, "Don't Bother, Just Let Him Die: Killing With Impunity in Papua" – recorded 69 cases that took place between January 2010 and February 2018, in which 95 people were killed. Some of the victims were children.

"We found most of the cases are not related to political activities, which is in contradiction to the claim made by the government that violence committed by security forces is an attempt to eradicate separatist armed movements in Papua," Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, said during the report launch in Jakarta.

Excessive force against peaceful protests, incidents of public disorder and during attempts to arrest criminal suspects was used in 41 out of the 69 cases included in the report.

On several occasions, unlawful killings followed incidents affecting individual members of the security forces.

All of the cases documented by Amnesty International involved either or both the police and the military, with one case involving the municipal police (Satpol PP). Most of the victims were ethnic Papuans.

"What's most worrying is that not one of the perpetrators, not a single one, has been taken to a civilian court," Usman said.

According to the report, some cases have been settled through the police or military internal disciplinary mechanisms, while other were resolved in accordance with the customary law.

There are currently two ongoing investigations, including a shooting incident in Paniai, Papua, which took place in 2014 and resulted in four fatalities.

In 25 cases, there has been no investigation at all.

"Investigations are rare, and it is even rarer that anyone is held accountable for killings. Security personnel are generally subject to disciplinary sanctions at the very most, leaving victims' families without access to justice and reparation," the report said.

Curbing Independence Movement

The government continues to use the antiseparatist argument to validate the use of excessive force in Papua, but Amnesty's report detailed the extent to which most of the recorded extrajudicial killings did not take place in a political environment.

For example, in 2011, police opened fire against a crowd of protesters in Timika, Papua, who were demanding higher wages from Freeport Indonesia. Petrus Ayamiseba and Leo Wandagau were killed in the incident.

While the police claimed they only used rubber bullets, a report by Indonesia's human rights commission, Komnas HAM, revealed that Petrus was killed by live ammunition.

"They weren't fighting for independence, they were demanding proper wages, and there has been no accountability to this day," Usman said.

Reports of abuse, harassment, arbitrary arrests and detentions in Papua have prompted criticism by international human rights groups and activists, including the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein.

Al-Hussein said he and his team were invited by the government to send a mission to the region for further investigation, but the trip has yet to happen.

Impunity Prevails

The issue of impunity among perpetrators of past human rights abuses in Indonesia has long been a concern for many rights groups and activists. Top officials and President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo have many times promised to address it.

Also the 2014 Paniai shooting made Jokowi pledge to bring those responsible to justice.

"The case of Paniai, the case in which President Widodo made a promise in 2014, is a test for his administration, whether he is successful in delivering his promise to Papua or not. It's a test in which his administration has failed," Usman said.

The Papua report, which took two years to compile, is part of Amnesty's work to monitor efforts to combat impunity for security forces in Indonesia.

The international organization asserted that there is a direct and causal link between impunity and human rights violations.

"Each failure to investigate or bring those responsible to trial reinforces the confidence of perpetrators that they are indeed above the law," the report said.

Sylvana Apituley, an expert on politics, legal, defense, security and human rights at the Presidential Office, said the government remains committed to addressing human rights abuses in Papua.

The government is currently focusing on the cases of Wamena, Wasior and Paniai, based on a recommendation made by an investigative team coordinated by Chief Security Minister Wiranto, she said.

"Resolving human rights abuses is something we are working on, and there is progress – it's slow but sure," Sylvana said.