by Santon Tekege
29 September 2015 (apologies for translation delay)
Life in the ‘Dollar City’ of Timika is becoming increasingly threatened. The Indonesian Armed Forces are using ‘the State’ as a weapon to bring an end to lives of indigenous Papuans. The Armed Forces working in this city are always taking advantage of their situation and this even ends up at times in them targeting citizens and in some cases shooting them dead. Such was what we experienced again in Timika on the night of 28 September 2015 when the actions of the Armed Forces created deep sadness for the community.
With the bloody incident that occurred at Kisah Koperapoka a month earlier on 28 August 2015 still not having been dealt with according to military law, now just 30 days another shooting by the Armed Forces against civilians has occurred, which has already become known as ‘Blood at the Timika Water Channels‘.
The community of Timika is feeling threatened by the extremely immature attitude of the Indonesian Armed Forces which has seen the latter regularly carrying out arbitrary acts of aggression against the community. We have now seen a student shot dead by the Armed Forces at the Timika Water Channels on 28 September, and a number of his friends left wounded by gunshot during the same incident.
Chronology of the Incident according to the Victim’s Family and Community Members:
- The First Shootings
Papuan civilian community members always walk around in the area of the water channels (near the Ajikwa River tailings overflow) to get fresh air. On the night of 28 September the victims were doing just that. They had not been drinking alcohol and were not acting threateningly towards anyone at the location.
The victims had left their homes to go walking at the water-channels at 19.00 hours. Whilst sitting at the water-channels they were approached suddenly by Armed Police, who called for reinforcements.
According to a witness’s account (name withheld for security) “Before the shooting occurred a certain police officer had arrived, and entered the house of a family whose house was located beside the place where the victims were sitting at the bottom of the telephone tower at the water-channels. The young victims had just been sitting and were not doing anything. The police officer then exited the house and telephoned his police colleagues. Several minutes later a police truck loaded with a large number of police, together with 2 police vehicles and tens of police on motorbikes arrived at the location.”
Another witness testified that “The police intentionally shot dead Kalep Bagau and wounded by shooting a number of his companions. The victims were not doing anything other than sitting at the time of the shooting. They were neither drunk or had been drinking. Why would the police go straight to that location and shoot dead a school student then shoot and wound a number of his companions who had merely been sitting with him?”
The witnesses stated that the police arrested Kaleb Bagau then immediately shot him dead. When eyewitnesses were asked why the police arrested and killed Bagau, then shot a number of his companions, their replies were ” The Armed Forces shot dead Kaleb Bagau with no reason whatsoever.” Of Kaleb’s companions who were also shot by police, some suffered lighter wounds whilst some suffered very serious bullet wounds. They managed to run away from the police.
The witnesses added that “After they shot dead Kaleb Bagau the police immediately lifted his body up roughly like some sort of animal and threw him in the drain in the vicinity of the water-channels. Eyewitnesses commented that “the actions of the police in the incident were really sadistic”. They continued “It’s like the police can’t be wrong as from now on they will immediately respond by pointing their guns at whoever from the community who is nearby.”
The witnesses stated in regards to the shooting of Kaleb Bagau that “the Police’s guns were pointed clearly not to just have bullets veer (close to) the victim or to be a warning (shot) but rather were pointed directly at the victim.”
The shooting victims details are as follows:
- Shot dead Kaleb Bagau (aged 18 years) a student at SMK Petra in Timika. He was shot in the chest and died on the spot.
- Yanto (aged 20) (from Biak), shot in the foot.
- Bastian (19) (from Biak) shot in the chest
- Billy Yoku (20) severely beaten up using rifle butts and has sustained very serious injuries
2. The Second Shootings
The moment the local community in Gorong-Gorong heard the news that a student had been shot dead at the water-channels, they immediately went to the police station. That was at 8.00pm. The community members became angry towards the police who displayed what they regarded as an unacceptable response to the situation. The community demanded that the police take responsibility for the death and other victims of the incident. The Police rejected the stance of the community members and immediately responded by opening fire in their direction with live gunfire.
According to witnesses, the Armed Forces were not without consideration of the consequences of the shooting, but nevertheless they automatically responded to the community members gathered by shooting live rounds at them. As a result of the police gunfire a number of civilians were also wounded, some with light wounds and others suffering serious wounds. The details of the victims from this second shooting were as follows:
- Dewina Selegani (18 yrs old) shot in the right hand (a civilian)
- Hebel Jagani (24 yrs) shot in the knee (a civilian)
- Koni Bagau (28 yrs) shot in the waist (a civilian)
Response of the Victim’s Family
The father of the victim Kaleb Bagau by the name of Reverend Daniel Bagau, stated on behalf of the family that they felt such a deep loss at the death of their son. “We have also cried (that) the State of Indonesia had taken the life of our child.”
Reverend Bagau said he was sorry that again the Police were responsible for the incident, but said that the family saw the shooting totally as one of many human rights violations for which the State must be held responsible. He continued that those police members responsible for firing the bullets that killed Kaleb Bagau must be tried before a court of law, and given the death sentence. He continued stating that the problem at hand was not between just the victim’s family and the police but rather it was a problem for the whole of Papua. That it was a problem of human rights violations and a problem of the State of Indonesia. Accordingly the family demanded that the State of Indonesia take full responsibility for the death by shooting of Kaleb Bagau.
The above provides the chronology in brief of what transpired that day.
So with only 30 days since the shooting incident known as ‘Blood at Koperapoka’ on 28 August 2015, a case which has not yet been heard by a military court of law, we now have yet another death by shooting of a civilian by police ‘Blood at the Water Channels’ on 28 September 2015.
Shootings by the Indonesian Armed Forces are happening again and again throughout the entire land of Papua. To divert attention away from this case of human rights violation, we can be sure there will be yet a further OTJ (“Unknown” persons) shooting victim in one of the other kabupaten or regions, perhaps a supposed ‘tribal war’, or a case involving victims of a vehicle accident or other manufactured ‘Incidents’ to divert attention away from the cases of human rights violations.
The State of Indonesia must take action against the culprits of these of these shootings against the Papuan community. We call on international organisations to urge the State of Indonesia to withdraw their Armed Forces from the land of Papua and to take firm action against the genocide that is continuing to take place in Papua.
Timika, 29 September 2015
The author is a Pastoral Worker in the Catholic Diocese of Timika – Papua