JG: Officers Involved in Deadly Crackdown On Papuan Congress Slapped on Wrist


Banjir Ambarita | November 23, 2011

Jayapura. The former Jayapura Police chief and seven of his subordinates were handed a token written warning on Tuesday for their role in a brutal crackdown on a peaceful gathering that led to the deaths of at least three civilians.

At a disciplinary hearing at the Papua Police headquarters, Adj. Sr. Comr. Imam Setiawan was ruled to have committed a disciplinary infraction by not prioritizing the protection of civilians.

A parallel hearing at the Jayapura Police headquarters found the seven others guilty of a similar breach. All were issued a warning letter, despite earlier findings by the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) that the crackdown on the pro-independence Papuan People’s Congress violated a raft of basic rights.

A day after the incident on Oct. 19, six congress participants were found dead in a field near the scene and just outside the local military headquarters.

Komnas HAM had ruled that at least three of the deaths could be attributed to excessive use of force by the security forces, although it stopped short of specifically fingering the police or the military.

In his defense, Imam said his men had acted out of fear of a repeat of the clash that occurred in March 2006 between protesters and security forces at Jayapura’s Cendrawasih University that left five police officers dead.

Sr. Comr. Deddy Woeryantono, the provincial police’s head of internal affairs, said the punishment meted out to the eight officers was the “heaviest in the police force.”

“If in the next six months after receiving a warning they commit another disciplinary breach, it’s possible that their punishment could be increased,” said Deddy, who presided over the disciplinary hearings.

He declined to say how the heaviest punishment available could be made any heavier.

The other officers disciplined included Comr. Junoto, the Jayapura Police’s operations head; Adj. Comr. Laurens, the head of intelligence; Adj. Comr. Frans, the head of riot personnel; and Adj. Comr. Ridho Purba, the chief of detectives. Adj. Comr. K.R. Sawaki and First Insp. I. Simanjuntak, the North Jayapura Police chief and deputy chief, and Comr. Arie Sirait, the Abepura Police chief, completed the list.

Tuesday’s decision echoes similar cursory punishment handed down to soldiers accused of gross rights abuses. In August, three soldiers accused of killing a Papuan man were given 15 months in jail for insubordination by a military tribunal.

In January, the military was criticized internationally for handing out sentences of between eight and 10 months to three soldiers who had tortured two Papuan men, in an act caught on video and posted to YouTube.

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