Abepura prison director, staff, accused of violence towards prisoners


[Slightly abridged in translation]

Bintang Papua, 13 December 2010

Director of Abepura Prison and 14 of his staff accused of acts of 
violent towards prisoners

There is still no clear information with regard to two cases of violence 
that occurred in Abepura Prison in the past month and it is hoped that 
the police will carry out a serious investigation in order to  explain 
these two incidents that have led to the security forces conducting 
sweepings throughout the district of Abepura. The need for a more 
humanitarian approach in dealing with the victims of these actions was 
stressed during a press conference  held by Forum of People's Democracy 
(Forem) in Abepura on Monday.

The series of incidents included the shooting in Nafri and the enforced 
removal of five prisoners, Filep Karma, Buchtar Tabuni, Dominggus 
Pulalo, Lopez Karubaba and Eni Elopere which has raised questions by 
Forem, particularly why the men were forcibly transferred to police 
custody and to explain what their present status is.

Two of the prisoners are political  prisoners while the other three are 
being held on criminal charges.

The five men were transferred by the police on Friday, 3 December at 
around 11pm, on the orders to Abepura prison director , Berthy Sitinjak. 
Up to this day, the prison authorities have failed to  tell them the 
reason for their having being transferred to police custody. All the 
focus has been on the five men having allegedly provoked  others in the 
prison to  destroy things in the prison on that Friday afternoon. 
According to the prisoners themselves, these acts of destruction were an 
expression of their feelings of dissatisfaction with the attitude of the 
prison director who failed to tell them why five of their co-prisoners 
had fled from the prison on the same day at about 12 noon.

One of the men, Wiron Wetipo, was shot dead while Filep Karma and 
Buchtar Tabuni tried to calm people down, and asked to meet the director 
of the prison for  an explanation as to what happened to the prisoner 
who was shot dead in Tanah Hitam.

According to Forem, as stated by Simon Yumame, Dominggus Pulalo, Lopez 
Karubaba and Eni Elopere were not involved in damaging prison 
facilities, yet even so, they were maltreated by prison director Berthy 
Sitinjak  along with 14 members of his staff. These actions resulted in 
a damaged ear for Dominggus Pulalo and swellings on his head  as a 
result of being kicked repeatedly  all over this body.

According to Filep Karma and his co-prisoners, the five men who fled 
from the prison on Friday were criminal prisoners and were in no way 
connected with any political activities or the OPM. They had simply 
spent their time in the prison learning new skills and growing vegetables.

Forem has therefore urged the prison director Berthy Sitinjak and the 
deputy director of law and human rights to take responsibility and to 
ensure the return of the five prisoners so that they can serve the 
remainder of their sentences in Abepura Prison.and to explain publicly 
why the five prisoners were shot at even though they had been able to 
flee from the prison at a time when it was being heavily guarded. Forem 
also calls on the minister for law and human rights and the 
Diretor-General of  prisons to take firm action against the director of 
the prison for the arbitrary acts of violence taken against the 
prisoners in Abepura Prison.

According to Forem, at their press conference,  the prison authorities 
have shown that they are incapable of giving proper guidance to the 
prisoners; on the contrary, they  have caused widespread anxiety among 
the prisoners against the police and army for opening fire on prisoners 
that resulted in the death of Wiron Wetipo.

These two serious incidents, the shooting in Nafri and the flight of the 
prisoners, means that the army and the police should conduct a full 
investigation into the Nafri shooting and other matters, that violence 
should not be resorted to and they should behave in a more professional 
way and in accordance with the law, so as not to create an atmosphere of 
fear among the  prisoners.

The prisoner director, when asked about the accusations being made 
against his staff for using violence in the prison, showed no interest 
in the matter, saying simply that it was okay for the  prisons to 
express their views about allegations that the prison staff used 
violence. The truth was, according to him, that they had thrown things 
around in the prison office. 'Which is why was they have been moved to 
police custody for their involvement in the events of 3 December, and 
their cases are now being taken forward by the police.

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