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Anger at 'out-of control' military

Papuans condemn torching of town after accident leads to fatal dispute

Papuans stage a rally outside the presidential palace in Jakarta, yesterday Papuans stage a rally outside the presidential palace in Jakarta, yesterday
  • by Ryan Dagur, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • June 8, 2012
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Papuans in Jakarta have reacted angrily to the torching of a village in Papua in which one person was killed when troops opened fire on civilians following a deadly clash triggered by a road accident.

Dozens gathered outside the Presidential Palace in protest yesterday, to condemn “the brutal action” taken by hundreds of soldiers against civilians in Wamena, in Jayawijaya district late Wednesday.

The soldiers stormed the town, firing at residents and setting houses on fire, in an act of revenge against civilians who attacked two soldiers earlier on Wednesday, according to a national police spokesman.

“A person was confirmed killed during the raid, while many frightened people fled into the forest. The situation there remains tense,” protest organizer Marthen Goo said.

At least 17 were wounded, one seriously, according to Jhon Wetipo, the Jayawijaya district chief.

The raid was in response to an attack by residents on two soldiers who had hit a boy with their motorcycle. One soldier was stabbed to death, and the other was seriously injured, he said.

The accident and unfortunate incident which occurred afterwards should have been dealt with by the police, said Goo, who heads the National Papuan Solidarity rights movement.

“It seems soldiers can do anything they want to,” he continued, adding that the incident illustrates how badly the military handles tense situations and security issues in the restive province.

Dorus Wakum, another protester, questioned the central government’s commitment to dealing with problems in Papua and to forging peace there.

“What else can we say? We are tired of screaming out loud for an end to the violence,” he said.

The Indonesian Human Rights Monitor says Papua has experienced eight shooting incidents already this month, claiming the lives of eights civilians and three soldiers.

Presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha denied the government is dragging its feet over Papua, telling told reporters yesterday that the president has instructed police to do more to bring those responsible for the violence to justice.

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