Indonesian Military Opens Fire On Peaceful Papuan Peoples' Congress

by October 19, 2011
 

Indonesian forces have opened fire on the Third Papuan People's Congress, dispersing the peaceful gathering that had attracted thousands of Papuans to Jayapura city, the capital of West Papua.

At this time, the number of casualties have not been confirmed; however, several persons are reported to have been arrested, including Forkorus Yaboisembut and Edison Waromi, two indigenous political leaders.

The Third Papuan People's Congress was being held for the second time since Indonesia's invasion in 1963. During the event, Papuan delegates openly discussed their rights to self-determination and options for the long-awaited referendum on the future of West Papua. Forkorus Yaboisembut, the chair of the Papuan Customary Council was quoted in Papuan media sources as saying that the Congress is "part of the struggle of indigenous Papuans to enforce their fundamental rights." He argued that Papuans are not seeking to undermine or destroy Indonesia. however "we strive to uphold our fundamental rights, including political rights, including the right to independence as a nation... And whatever be produced, the Government of Indonesia should able to appreciate it."

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'Chaos' as shots ring out and military storm peaceful Papuan Peoples' Congress

Report By the Jakarta Globe and West Papua Media in Jayapura, Cross-posted from Pacific Scoop

Shots from a nearby hill rang out as Papuan leaders declared their independence from Indonesia at the Papuan People’s Congress today and began waiving the banned Morning Star flag, a local journalist said tonight.

The journalist, who has gone into hiding because of fears for her safety, told the Jakarta Globe of the "chaos" after the shots at 3 pm Jayapura time.

Police officers and members of the Indonesian Military (TNI) began returning fire toward the hill.

She said security officers then attempted to shut down the congress and moved in to make arrests.

The journalist said she then fled, along with hundreds of others, many of whom who escaped for the hills.

She said police had asked organisers prior to the three-day congress not to declare independence or raise the Morning Star flag.

Regional Military Commander Major General Erfi Triassunu previously told the Globe that the TNI began firing "warning shots" after the independence declaration.

Hundreds detained
There are reports that hundreds of people have been detained, though there are no official confirmed reports of deaths or injuries.

Other journalists in Jayapura say shops in the provincial capital have closed.

However, Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch told the Globe that he received a report of at least one person killed.

West Papua Media also reported casualties with a statement on its website citing "credible sources" saying: "TNI troops have opened fire on the congress … Live fire is being used on peaceful gathering.  Report of casualties but no confirmation of numbers.

"Petapa peacekeepers have been shot, reports of many dead. Women tending to shot Petapa security [guards] also shot by Indonesian military."

Text messages received by West Papua Media claimed many people saying "we have already been arrested".

Forkorus Yaboisembut, chair of the Papuan Customary Council, was reportedly arrested on a charge of makar, or "subversion".

Edison Waromi was also reported to have been arrested.

Show of force
Earlier today, Indonesian troops and police were reported to have assembled outside the Third Papuan Peoples‘ Congress in a show of force to intimidate and break up the rally of thousands of Papuans in Taboria oval (Zaccheus Field).

The third congress is being held for the second time since Indonesia’s invasion of West Papua in 1963.

Papuan delegates openly discussed their rights to self-determination and the pathways to a referendum on the future of West Papua.

Yaboisembut was quoted in Papuan media as saying the congress was "part of the struggle of indigenous Papuans to enforce their fundamental rights."

He argued that Papuans were not seeking to undermine or destroy Indonesia.

However, "we strive to uphold our fundamental rights, including political rights, including the right to independence as a nation…. And whatever be produced, the government of Indonesia should able to appreciate it."

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