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Rights groups condemn govt denial of Papua abuses

Rejecting probe into shooting of four students 'delegitimizes work' of Indonesia's human rights commission

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Rights groups condemn govt denial of Papua abuses

Amnesty International activists mark Human Rights Day outside the Presidential Palace on Dec. 10, 2019, by demanding President Joko Widodo settle various human rights abuses, including those allegedly carried out in Papua. (Photo supplied)



Human rights groups have condemned the Indonesian government's rejection of an investigation that concluded the military committed a "gross human rights violation" when it shot four students dead and injured more than 20 other people during a December 2014 protest in Papua.

The investigation into the incident in Paniai district was carried out by Indonesia’s human rights commission, Komnas HAM, which revealed its findings on Feb. 15. 

Amnesty International Indonesia and the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS) issued a joint statement on Feb. 18 condemning comments made by the head of the presidential office, Gen. Moeldoko, a day earlier rejecting the investigation’s findings.

“The case should be understood well. It was an incident that happened suddenly and there was no structural and systematic effort [to commit abuses],” Moeldoko said.  

“Moeldoko’s attitude is anti-human rights,” said the joint statement that also accused him and the government of trying to “delegitimize the work of Komnas HAM.”

According to the commission, the Paniai shootings fitted the criteria of what could be interpreted as a gross human rights violation such as the systematic killing and torture of civilians.

Four people died from gunshots and torture, while 21 others were injured, Komnas HAM concluded. 

The incident happened on Dec. 7-8, 2014, when President Joko Widodo was starting his first term and Moeldoko was the head of the military. 

Komnas HAM chairman Ahmad Taufan Damanik said the investigation result was based on testimony from 26 witnesses, studies of relevant documents, expert opinion and visits to the scene of the incident in Enarotali, Paniai.

Usman Hamid, director of Amnesty International Indonesia, said the Paniai incident was only one example of atrocities being carried out in Papua. “It was only one of 69 murder cases from 2008 to 2018,” he told UCA News.

Hendardi, director of the Jakarta-based Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, said the Paniai case was one that demanded a fair settlement. “The case is one which President Joko Widodo needs to settle as it happened during his term,” he said.

Moeldoko himself needs to be investigated by Komnas HAM because he was the military chief at the time, Hendardi added.

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