German born tourist shot by “unknown persons” whilst on a beach in Jayapura

by West Papua Media with local sources in Jayapura

May 30, 2012

News Article

Pieter Dietmar Helmut being treated after being shot in West Papua on Tuesday May 29, 2012 (supplied – BP)

Questions are being raised again about the willingness of the Indonesian police in Papua to properly investigate suspicious shooting incidents by “Unknown persons”, after a German born Spanish citizen was shot by a sniper and critically injured whilst swimming at a popular tourist beach in Jayapura.

The scientist identified as Pieter Dietmar Helmut (55) was swimming with his wife and some West Papuan friends at Base G beach, when a man brazenly drove up to beach in a silver Avanza car (plate number DS 1852) and shot the man three times in the thigh, abdomen and chest from a distance of ten metres – allegedly with a rifle according to some witnesses, though this could not be independently confirmed.

According to witnesses, who spoke to Indonesian media outlets and West Papua Media, the man was ethnic Papuan, but human rights sources insist that this does not prove that he was a member of any pro-independence forces. Rather, according to a stringer for West Papua Media’s stringer in Jayapura, this proves that this Papuan is able to openly use a vehicle that is easily identifiable and yet receives no punishment for his actions, pointing to the likelihood he is an active member of the security forces.

“The man, who had curly hair and was unshaven abruptly stopped his vehicle near us. He got off the car and shot my husband three times,” Helmut’s wife Eva Mediana Pachon was quoted as saying by the state-run Antara news agency.

Eva Pachon has spent many hours with the Papuan Human Rights organisation ELSHAM Papua, and has provided detailed testimony to human rights investigators.  Elsham Papua released a statement that provided testimony from Mrs. Pachon:

Elsham reports that around 10.00 a.m., Dr. Pieper and Eva Pachon were enjoying their day at a popular beach in Jayapura named Base G. It started to rain so most of the other people began to leave the beach. After swimming Dr. Pieper and Pachon packed their bags while waiting for the rain to stop. They intended to head straight back to the city. As they were sitting under a small hut, Pachon noticed a vehicle on a road behind the beach. “We saw a vehicle going by slowly, passing us three or four times. It was an SUV, the car was silver coloured,” said Pachon. The vehicle then stopped, a bearded man—an ethnic Papuan wearing a camouflage jacket and hat—came out and started walking toward them.

Pachon noticed that her husband had been shot only after seeing his body was covered in blood. “The man came near to us, about ten metres away, and then he shot Dietmar [Pieper] twice. I was shocked when I saw him fall and moan, saying ‘I am going to die. I am going to die.’ and I saw blood flowing” she said.

According to Elsham, the perpetrator got back into the car after shooting Dr. Pieper, but did not immediately leave the scene. Pachon thought that the perpetrator wanted to shoot her as well, so she initially ran towards a more crowded area to ask for help, Elsham reported.

“Pachon then returned with bystanders who helped take Dr. Pieper to the Jayapura General Hospital where he underwent a medical operation which lasted 47 minutes. Medical sources and Pachon report that Dr. Pieper had two gunshot wounds—in his left thigh and one on the left side of his torso.  The first shot reportedly entered his back on the left side and went through to his chest on the left side.  The second shot reportedly went through his left thigh.  Medical sources also say that the bullet went through the lungs of the victim, making a hole less than half a centimetre wide.  As of close of business on Wednesday May 30th, the victim is in a stable condition in an intensive care unit.  Four armed policemen are guarding his hospital room,” according to the Elsham report.

A local human rights activist told West Papua Media: “He is being treated in Dok 2 Jayapura hospital. We could not get into the hospital as the police and military, as well as BIN, have forbidden us to go (and) see the victim.”

Indonesian police refuse to identify suspect
Despite the clear identification of the suspect, Indonesian Police in Jayapura have refused to name any suspects, instead blaming “unknown persons”, a well-known euphemism in Papua for highly-trained shooters whose identity is well-known but enjoy complete impunity for their crimes.

Initial reaction to the shooting amongst Papuans widely puts the blame for the shooting at the hands of Indonesian security forces, who are seeking to turn international condemnation by Germany, Canada, Britain, the Netherlands and France against Indonesian human rights violations in Papua. “It is the same tactic that was seen with the US after they suspended arms sales after the East Timor bloodbath, and put caveats on the resumption of military assistance to be conditional on significant human rights reform. When Papuan guerrillas were blamed for shooting US schoolteachers at Freeport in 2002, the Indonesian military was able to use the appearance of a heavily armed insurgency targeting foreigners to get the US to support its militarist aims against Papuan civilians,”  an Indonesian human rights worker based in Jakarta, who asked to remain anonymous, told West Papua Media today.

Dr Eben Kirksey, a US-based Anthropology Assistant Professor with long involvement with Papua, recently published “Freedom in Entangled Worlds”, a book that details a series of covert operations by Indonesia’s Kopassus Special Forces in West Papua. “Undercover Indonesian military agents have a long history of using ethnic Papuan militias to stage violent attacks in West Papua,” said Dr. Kirksey, . “West Papua is effectively off-limits to journalists and the Indonesian military has a history of impunity. A transparent investigation, with international involvement and oversight, must be launched before the trail of evidence goes cold.”

The Jakarta Globe has reported that Civil society groups across Indonesia are also getting more suspicious about military involvement in the shooting. Poengky Indarti, executive director of activist group Imparsial, told Jakarta Globe on Sunday that 13 countries raised the issue during the UN’s Universal Periodic Review in Geneva last week, with five of them specifically questioning the government’s inability to capture those responsible for shooting civilians in the restive province.

“Germany, Canada, Britain, the Netherlands and France questioned the Indonesian government on its handling of human rights violations, such as torture of civilians, shootings and killings in Papua,” Poengky told the Jakarta Globe.

“It’s a big question why such a large police and military presence there has failed to result in anyone being arrested for the attacks. Furthermore, their presence in the area has also failed to deter more attacks.”

West Papuan resistance groups, both in the civil resistance movement and the armed struggle, have universally condemned the shooting of Helmut, saying it is yet another in the long list of crimes by Indonesia against Papuans and those friendly with Papuan people.

Victor Yeimo, International spokesperson for the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), said in a statement sent to West Papua Media that the shooting is a conspiracy by Indonesia to deflect Germany’s attention from Indonesian human rights abuses in West Papua. “The shooting is closely associated with a harsh rebuke to Indonesia by the UN Human Rights Council within the UN human rights session recently where Indonesian military and police (were criticised for having) carried out violence and human rights abuses in West Papua.”

KNPB had carefully assessed “that the shooting was purely (a) state conspiracy to scapegoat (the) people of Papua for the umpteenth time as the mastermind behind the violent conflict in West Papua,” explained Yeimo.


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