26 October 2011
Statement regarding the shooting of civilians in Abepura, Jayapura, on
Wednesday 19 October 2011.
The Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect appeals to the Indonesian
government to show leadership in protecting and upholding human rights in response
to continuing reports that members of the Indonesian military and police opened fire
on civilians attending the Third Papuan People’s Congress in Abepura, Jayapura, on
the afternoon of Wednesday 19 October 2011.
Reports from Kontras (The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of
Violence) and Elsham (The Institute for the Study and Advocacy of Human Rights in
West Papua) in the Papua Province of Indonesia state that these shootings occurred on
the third day of the Congress, held on a field (Lapangan Zakheus/Sakeus or Taboria)
in Abepura. Throughout the Congress, military and police personnel maintained a
prominent armed presence. It is also reported that Forkorus Yeboisembut, Chairman
of the Council of Customary Papuan Chiefs, declared Papuan independence from
Indonesia during the afternoon of 19 October.
Subsequently, members of the police and military near the field allegedly fired upon
civilians and moved in to arrest members of the Congress. At least five people were
reportedly killed during this attack. At this time, Yeboisembut and other Congress
leaders – including Selfius Bobi, Edison Waromi, Agus Krar, Dominikus Surabut and
Gat Wenda – are still detained.
Kontras had confimed three of the victims – Daneil Kedepa, Yakobus Samonsabra
and Max Yew – died of gunshot wounds. Two others, Matias Maidepa and Yacop
Sabonsaba, were allegedly found dead behind the military headquarters in Abepura. A
team from the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM), headed by
Deputy Chairperson Ridha Saleh, arrived in Papua on Tuesday 25 October to
investigate the violence.
One week after this incident, tensions in Papua remain high. The Indonesian National
Police is now on the highest level of alert in Papua and 300 additional members of the
Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) have been sent after Dominggus Awes, a local Chief
of Police, was shot at the airport in the highlands region of Mulia.
The Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect is deeply concerned about
reports of a violent assault on a peaceful and unarmed gathering of civilians in
Abepura. It is also concerned by the tone of discussion about the Papuan People’s
Congress in Jakarta. The Congress is seen as an attack on the government and has
been called a “coup” (1) that must be “put down” with a military solution (2). The heightened presence of security forces in Papua, in addition to inflammatory language used by public officials in Jakarta, are likely to escalate tensions in Papua. Thus, the potential for further violence is high and immediate action by the government should
be taken to contain further violence.
The Centre recognises and commends the leadership shown by Indonesia in
promoting human rights within the Southeast Asia region and so calls upon the
Indonesian government to respond quickly and effectively to these reports.
In particular, the Centre urges the Indonesian government to:
1. Support the National Commission on Human Right’s independent investigation to
determine the events that took place on the afternoon of Wednesday 19 October 2011
at the Third Papuan People’s Congress in Abepura.
2. Ascertain and provide clear details regarding the whereabouts and wellbeing of all
persons currently detained in connection with the attack on the Third Papuan People’s
3. An independent investigation be carried out into the actions of police, military and
any other State officials during the Third Papuan People’s Congress and, in particular,
into their actions on the afternoon of Wednesday, 19 October 2011, and subsequent
actions taken in connection to the incident.
The Centre acknowledges the great strides Indonesia has made under the leadership of
President Susilo Bambang Yudhuyono and expresses hope that the President will do
all he can to protect the rights to life and safety of all Indonesian citizens including
those in Papua.
1 Statement made by Djoko Suyanto, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs. See “Minister Defends Papua Response, Denies Govt Role in Deaths,” The Jakarta Globe, 21 October 2011, online at: http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/security-minister-defends-papua-congress-was-acoup-detat/473139
[accessed 22 October 2011].
2 See also statements made by the Defence Minister, Purnomo Yusgiantoro. For example, see Made Arya Kencana, Banjir Ambarita and Ulma Haryanto, “Jakarta Gives US Its Side of Story in Papua Deaths,” The Jakarta Globe, 23 October 2011, online at: http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/home/jakartagives-us-its-side-of-story-in-papua-deaths/473590 [accessed 24 October 2011].
- Csw Urges Indonesia to Establish Dialogue With Papuan People Following Brutal Crackdown by Military in West Papua (westpapuamedia.info)
- Report by GKI on Third Papuan Congress and Declaration of Independence (westpapuamedia.info)
- Radio Australia: Footage of violent Papuan crackdown emerges (westpapuamedia.info)
- ABC LATELINE: West Papuans attacked by Indonesian army (westpapuamedia.info)
- AWPA: Increasing tension in West Papua (westpapuamedia.info)