JAKARTA - Indonesia must immediately conduct an investigation into the alleged excessive use of force by police against protesters during a demonstration in Deiyai Regency on Sept. 23 when a student, Alpius Mote, was shot dead, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement released on Monday.
“Indonesia’s security forces have a history of using excessive force with impunity against civilians in Papua,” said Phelim Kine, the deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“A transparent and impartial investigation into the Waghete shootings is necessary to prevent even greater distrust of the security forces.”
During a demonstration in Waghete the capital of Deiyai regency, last week, police allegedly used excessive force to disperse rock-throwing protesters, the statement said.
“The Indonesian government needs to explain why police officers found it necessary to fire directly into a crowd of protesters throwing rocks,” Kine said.
“Lethal force may only be used as a last resort to protect lives.”
Witnesses told HRW that officers with the police’s Mobile Brigade (Brimob) arrived at a hospital where the wounded were taken and prohibited doctors and nurses from taking photographs of the victims.
The police also posted guards who required visitors to leave mobile phones at the entrance.
Police reportedly confiscated the phone of one nurse who had apparently taken photographs of the victims.
The Brimob actions at the hospital seemed more designed to limit evidence gathering about injuries than to secure the facility, Human Rights Watch said.
Therefore, Kine said, there should be an inquiry into harassment of victims, medical personnel and witnesses.
There were also unconfirmed reports that police beat and arbitrarily detained Yance Pekey, a teacher at the Tigi High School attended by Alpius Mote, after Pekey confronted police in protest at Mote’s death. Police have accused Pekey of provoking unrest and he remains in detention.
The government had deployed military forces in Papua since 1963 to counter a long-simmering independence movement and restricts access to international media, diplomats and civil society groups by requiring them to obtain special access permits, which are rarely granted.
Tensions heightened in Papua following an attack on Feb. 21 on military forces by suspected elements of the armed separatist Free Papua Organization (OPM), resulting in the deaths of eight. [jakartaGlobe]