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President 'must act on shootings'

Escalating violence in Papua needs his urgent attention, activists say

Haris Azhar of the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Photo by Ryan Dagur) Haris Azhar of the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Photo by Ryan Dagur)
  • by Ryan Dagur, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • June 13, 2012
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President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono must move quickly to restore order in Papua in the wake of an alarming increase in the number of shootings in the eastern province, activists in Jakarta said yesterday.

“The president must not underestimate the situation in Papua. [He] must immediately evaluate what the police and military are doing in the province since they are failing to guarantee the safety or protect civilians there,” the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence  said in a statement.

He must ensure police conduct fast, effective and transparent investigations into the cases in order to bring the perpetrators to court.

He must also make sure security forces do not adopt a heavy-handed approach with civilians as it is imperative they get the local population’s support, they added.

The commission says the number of shootings in Papua has increased significantly, up from a total of 13 cases in 2011 to 17 cases in the first six months of this year. The shootings this year have seen seven civilians and a journalist killed, and 10 others, including a German tourist, seriously wounded.

Commission coordinator Haris Azhar said the shootings appear to be random.

“Those behind the shootings are being indiscriminate. Their victims have been civilians, including a motorcycle taxi driver, a journalist, a teacher and members of the police and military as well as a foreigner,” he added.

In a report yesterday, the president admitted that security officers have in the past overreacted in their handling of security in Papua and steps would be taken to address this.

“In cases where there are violations by military of police officers while carrying out their duties – which is not easy and is complex – sanctions should be handed down,” he was quoted by the Jakarta Globe as saying.

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