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Government to take all necessary measures on Papua violence

Jakarta Post - August 24, 2012

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – The government has warned it will take all necessary measures to locate those responsible for the recent shootings in Papua.

Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto said on Thursday that the government's heavy-handed response to the recent shootings in Papua should not be misconstrued as a human rights violation, as it was a risk that had to be taken in locating the perpetrators.

"The government has been working hard to uphold peace in Papua, but all of our efforts in the land have been destroyed by these unidentified shooters. We will chase and arrest those responsible for the incidents," said Djoko.

"We will take all necessary action to track them down, so don't blame us for any human rights violations, because they are the human rights violators who terrorize members of the security forces and the people of the land," Djoko said at his ministry, after a coordination meeting with the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Lt. Gen. Marciano Norman, National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo, and Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Adm. Agus Suhartono on Thursday.

However, he did not specify who the suspects were, arguing that the government was having difficulties in carrying out the investigation due to Papua's challenging topography.

BIN chief Marciano Norman suspected that the violence in Papua likely related to groups that had received funds from foreign companies operating in Papua.

"We are still investigating this possibility. It is important for all foreign companies operating in Papua to communicate with us in regard to making donations, so that the money is not misused, for instance, to fund separatist movements," Marciano said.

Four people, including police officer Brig. Yohan Kisiwaitoi, and head of the Forestry Department of Sarmi regency, Ayub Natanubun, were killed during recent attacks by unidentified perpetrators in Papua.

Yohan Kisiwaitoi was shot dead in Paniai regency on Tuesday by an unidentified gunman, who reportedly escaped with the victim's weapon.

Two staff members of contractor company PT Putra Dua were also killed during an attack by unidentified perpetrators in a camp belonging to the company on Wednesday. The attack also severely injured two other staff members who were also at the camp.

Earlier on Saturday, Ayub Natanubun, who led the Forestry Department of the Sarmi Regency in northern Papua, was reportedly shot dead by another unidentified gunman while crossing the border between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Separately, Poengky Indarti of human rights watchdog Imparsial, decried the government's approach to the violence in Papua.

"I think this is the best time for the government to prove its commitment to a peaceful dialogue with Papuans, as President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has continuously said that his government is open to such a dialogue with all stakeholders in Papua," said Poengky.

"A security approach will result in nothing but deeper terror for the Papuans, which will persuade them that separation from Indonesia is the best solution to become free from the government's oppressive approach," Poengky told The Jakarta Post.

She cited the example of the government forcefully arresting 60 people during a sweeping operation in several villages in Paniai regency in 2010, in order to search for suspects responsible for a series of shootings in the province.

She reminded the government to faithfully apply appropriate standard operating procedures (SOPs) in upholding the law in Papua, as the watchdog recorded several cases where the government violated the SOPs in relation to locating alleged perpetrators of violence.

"The government will usually deploy the police's Mobile Brigade [Brimob] or the Densus 88 counterterrorism unit in trying to solve mysterious shootings in Papua, an assignment that is usually handled by the police in other parts of this country. This is just not right," Poengky said. (png)