Officials Urged To Act on Shootings in Fragile Papua
Authorities need to quickly arrest the perpetrators of a string of recent shootings in Papua, lawmakers and observers say, with the shooting of a foreigner on Tuesday sending a strong signal that the province is not safe.
While the government badly wants to convince the international community that its westernmost province is secure, the police’s failure to stop the shootings or make any arrests shows otherwise, Tubagus Hasanuddin, deputy chairman of the House of Representatives’ Commission I, which oversees defense and international affairs, said on Wednesday.
“We know that there is a certain group that wants to keep Papua in chaos. The police must arrest the members of the group quickly. Otherwise, the shootings will continue,” he said, without identifying the group he was referring to.
Tubagus said the shootings had damaged Indonesia’s reputation abroad.
A German tourist was shot three times while walking along a beach in an apparently random attack in Jayapura on Tuesday, the National Police said.
Dietmar Pieper, 55, was at the beach with his wife, Eva Medina, 55, when an assailant opened fire at about 11:30 a.m. and then sped off in a Toyota Avanza minivan. Pieper survived the attack.
That same day, a teacher at a primary school in the restive mountainous region of Mulia was shot. And in another incident, a man shot Anton Arung Tambila, 36, a teacher and kiosk owner, in the head.
The bullet entered Anton’s cheek and remains lodged inside his head. Both victims survived the attacks, according to the police, who say they are still investigating.
Since the start of the year, there have been at least six armed attacks on civilians and security personnel in Mulia, located in Puncak Jaya district, leaving six people dead. Among the attacks was an incident on April 8 when gunmen fired on a Trigana Air plane as it landed in Mulia, killing a journalist and injuring four other people.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has demanded that those responsible for the aircraft shooting be found, but police have yet to name any suspects in that case or any of the other shootings.
“We don’t know why the police seem so impotent in handling killings in Papua,” said Hendardi, a human rights activist and chairman of the Setara Institute.
Civil society groups allege the shootings in Puncak Jaya and around the Grasberg mine run by US-based Freeport-McMoRan are part of a rivalry between the police and military as they jockey for lucrative security payments.
Ezra Sihite & Farouk Arnaz