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Statement by Group of Indonesians on the Bloody Abepura
 Mar 17, 2006 13:54 PST 

Statement Issued on 17 March by a Group of Indonesians

Papuans and officers of the Police Force and TNI (Armed Forces of
Indonesia) have fallen victim of the Misguided Policy of the SBY/Kalla
government .

May we first express our sincere condolences for the deaths of three
members of the Police Force and an officer of the Armed Forces (TNI/AU -
Air Force) during clashes in front of Cendrawasih University, Abepura on
Thursday. We are also deeply concerned about the dozens of Papuans and
members of the Police Force who were seriously injured.

Violence continues to be the method used to resolve conflicts, particularly
in Papua.

This tragedy need never have occurred had the officers not forcibly removed
the blockade in the road set up by the students and other Papuans. This
triggered anger from the people with the result that a bloody conflict was

The police, most of whom whom were lower ranks who almost certainly knew
nothing about the cause of the conflict between the people and PT Freeport
Indonesia, fell victim to the lack of clarity from the government in
dealing with the demands regarding to the presence of Freeport. A conflict
that is between the people and Freeport turned into a conflict between
the people and the police/armed forces.

The conflict between the Papuan people and PT Freeport has being going on
for many years, and a high level of violence has been used. Yet up till
now, the SBY/Kalla government still has no concept of how to respond to the
demands of the Papuans. The government has failed to take seriously demands
for a re-negotiation of the Contract of Work which Papuans consider to have
provided neither justice nor prosperity for Papuans who are still
underdeveloped and poor.

The accumulation of anger unnecessarily resulted in lives being lost, and
this will continue to happen if the same methods are used again in future.

Responsibility for this situation rests with the central government which
has the authority to respond to the demands being made by the Papuan people
with regard to Freeport.

The use of excessive force which resulted in a bloody clash is set to
continue, with the sweeping (searching) of people's homes and the campus of
Cendrawasih University, as happened to the Secretary of the Pepera Front,
Selfius Boby, the organisation that led the protest action demanding that
Freeport be closed down. The use of excessive force will make it even more
difficult to resolve the Papuan problem.

We therefore wish to state as follows:

* We call on the police in Abepura and throughout Papua to exercise
restraint and not to engage in acts of revenge. The rule of law must be
applied for both sides. Sweeping operations and arrests should end.

* We call on the Papuan people and students to refrain from actions that
could undermine their struggle to demand justice from Freeport and the
SBY/Kalla government.

* We will support the struggle of the Papuan people to demand justice as
long as this is done by peaceful and well-organised methods.

* We call on the SBY/Kalla government to meet the demand of the Papuan
people for the temporary closure of Freeport in order to avoid further
escalation of the conflict. The Contract of Work should be re-negotiated to
ensure that it conforms with the principle of justice. In the absence of
such an approach, the potential for bloody conflicts and acts of violence,
both by the Papuan people and students as well as by the Police Force and
the TNI, is bound to remain.

* The Bloody Abepura Incident should not be exploited for any purpose
other than to resolve the demand to end the injustices being suffered by
the Papuan people as the result of the mining operations of PT Freeport and
the decisions taken by the government in relation to the concession and
Contract of Work with Freeport.

* The deployment of more Police and TNI forces to Papua will only hide the
true nature of the problem. The territory of Papua must not be militarised,
for this will only lead to yet more victims from the civilian population
and members of the police force.

* The people of Papua and members of the police force should not become
victims as happened to the Acehnese people who suffered from the policy of
a Military Operations Zone (DOM) at the time of the New Order and during
the period of 'Reformasi'.

       Jakarta, 17 March 2006

    HS. Dillon
    Romo Benny Susetyo
    Sholahudin Wahid
    Dita Indah Sari
    Sukardi Rinakit

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TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign
111 Northwood Road, Thornton Heath, Croydon CR7 8HW, UK.
tel +44 (0)20 8771 2904 fax +44 (0)20 8653 0322
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