ELSHAM finds evidence of 749 acts of violence in Papua


15 August 2012
Jayapura: ELSHAM, – the Institute for the Study and Advocacy of Human Rights in Papua – found evidence of 749 acts of violence that befell the people living in Papua. Most of these acts of violence occurred during arbitrary arrests and detentions.This is reported in the recently launched book, Masa Lalu dan Tak Lalu – The Past and Never Past – which was published by ELSHAM and the International Centre for Transitional Justice.

During its investigations, the researchers examined 108 testimonies about human rights violations . They spoke to 76 people in Biak, 12 people in Manokwari, ten people in Paniai and ten people in Sorong. The period covered was from the mid 1960s (prior to the Act of Free Choice in 1969) up to the period of ‘reformasi’ (following the downfall of Suharto).

Their researchers spent three months out in the field, studying testimonies and obtained information about 749 cases.

Of the 749 cases, 312 were violations against males and 56 violations against women. The details were obtained from101 victims who were  interviewed. One hundred and one victims  had suffered violations together with a group of people or with more than one person. The types of violence were arbitrary arrests and detentions, 234 cases,  military operations against the civilian population including operations to forcibly evict people 181 cases, and torture and ill-treatment, 97 cases.

There were also 86 cases of deaths as the result of extreme torture,  threats 53 cases, assaults 28 cases, the seizure or destruction of  people’s belongings, gardens or livestock  22 cases, orders to report 26 cases, attacks and searches of people’s homes 4 cases, lack of access to food or medication 4 cases, forcible removals, preventing people from finding work 4 cases, forcible removals 3 cases, lack of access to food or medications, denial of access to families 2 cases, trials without lawyers,  2 cases, preventing people from travelling  2 cases. Finally, there was prevention of access to education. A total in all of 749 cases.

Other points included in the report  were that during the first period, from 1960 till 1969, several witnesses spoke of this period being marked by armed clashes  between the Indonesian army and troops of the OPM  (Papuan Freedom Organisaation)  which were frequently followed up by military attacks aimed directly at  the civilian population and arbitrary arrests and acts of torture, and the arrest of  people regarded as being against integration with Indonesia.

During the second period, from 1969 to 1998,  the focus was on destroying the remnants of the OPM, who were still involved in guerilla actions in the forests, People living in the towns as well as in the villages  were kept under tight guard and were required to obtain permits from the army if they wanted to travel anywhere. Peoeple who had once been arrested  were often re-arrested  for no apparent reason.

In the third perid following ‘reformasi’ after the fall of Suharto, there were many pressures for changes to be made in the situation in Papua. However, civil actions by  students and political groups of people calling for independence  were dealt with by acts of violence.

[Translated by TAPOL]


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