INDONESIA: Security forces open fire at Third Papuan People’s Congress

(Hong Kong, October 19, 2011) At around 3pm today the security forces surrounding the Third Papuan People’s Congress in Indonesia opened fire and dispersed the event. Possible casualties are not known as of now. Several persons are reported to have been arrested, including Forkorus Yaboisembut and Edison Waromi, indigenous political leaders.

The AHRC has received reports from several credible sources about the violent intervention by the Indonesian military (TNI) and the mobile brigades of the police (BRIMOB) at the Tunas Harapan field in Abepura, Papua, where the event took place. See our earlier press release in which the AHRC reported the military and police’s aggressive approach to the event. Some reports allege that several persons have been killed.

There are fears that raids by the security forces through the town, as seen in the past, may be repeated tonight. In several past instances, the police and military tortured and shot suspects. The situation in the wider Jayapura and Abepura area remains tense. Shops are closed and traffic is blocked by the security forces.

More than 2000 members of the army and police were reported to have been mobilised.

“This violent intervention and use of firearms is a disproportional use of force to deter the participants of this event, and violates their right to freedom of expression and political opinion,” said Wong Kai Shing, Executive Director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, in response to the violence.

“The current situation requires close monitoring,” he continued. “We call on all authorities to ensure that any arrested persons are not subjected to torture and their procedural rights are protected. Any arrested persons should be charged with internationally recognised crimes based on evidence or released immediately.”