TAPOL calls for those who shot Opinus Tabuni to be brought to justice

11 Aug 2008
TAPOL
TAPOL wishes to express its deep concern about the death of a Papuan who was participating in the celebration of World Indigenous Day in Wamena on Saturday, 9 August. This loss of yet another life in Papua is emblematic of the behaviour of the security forces and can only intensify Papuan anger at the ease with which members of the security forces behave when Papuans gather together on the streets to take part peacefully in events such as that which occurred in Wamena last week.
 
Reports so far suggest that the shooting was triggered by the unfurling of the Morning Star flag by someone in the crowd. A presidential decree issued last year prohibited the unfurling of the flag, making is subject to severe punishment. The Indonesian authorities refuse recognise the right of Papuans to freedom of expression even though this is an integral part of the laws in force in Indonesia, and appear to be determined to treat flag-raising as an act of rebellion against the state.
 
Since 2004, nineteen Papuans have been severely punished for rebellion for similar actions and are now serving sentences of as much as ten or fifteen years. However, with one single exception in late 2001, no action has ever been taken against members of the security forces who have used firearms against Papuans, resulting in so many deaths in Papua.
 
Moreover, since 2000, Papuan leaders across the political spectrum as well as church leaders have been calling for dialogue with the authorities in Jakarta, in an attempt to resolve the conflict by peaceful means, but the Indonesian government have simply ignored this.
 
TAPOL calls on the authorities to bring to justice those who were responsible for the death of Opinus Tabuni and calls on the Indonesian government to issue clear instructions to the police in Papua to refrain from resorting to the use of firearms against people engaged in street actions and demonstrations. To fail to do so can only reinforce the culture of impunity that has prevailed in Papua for so many years.