June 2015: Lawyers denied access while detainees tortured | West Papua Media Alerts

In brief

At the end of June 2015, there were at least 45 political prisoners in Papua.

Information received from defence lawyers in Manokwari reported that three detainees who were arrested last month for their involvement in a peaceful demonstration were severely beaten in detention by police Mobile Brigade (Brigade Mobil, Brimob) officers. At least one of the three, KNPB member Alexander Nekenem, was tortured by Brimob officers who stubbed cigarettes out on him. Under instructions from the Head of the Manokwari Regional Police, AKP Tommy H. Pontororing, lawyers were denied access to their three clients following the escape of Narko Murib, a fourth detainee in the same case. Due to barriers to access, lawyers only found out about the torture and ill-treatment endured by the detainees several days after.

A second case involving arbitrary violence perpetrated by Brimob officers was that of the fatal shooting of Yoteni Agapa, a 19-year-old Papuan in Ugapuga village in Dogiyai Regency. Brimob officers shot Agapa when he started arguing with them regarding a confrontation that had occurred earlier in the day. This tendency for Brimob officers to respond in such a trigger-happy manner is not uncommon. Since the start of 2015, at least two people have died and seven have been injured as a result of excessive use of force and misuse of firearms by police in Papua. So far, there have been no independent investigations into these incidents and thus the perpetrators continue to enjoy total impunity.

Ongoing investigations by the National Human Rights Commission (Komisi Nasional Hak Asasi Manusia, Komnas HAM) into the ‘Bloody Paniai’ incident of December 2014 seem to have stalled, reportedly due to a lack of funding. Additionally, separate investigations conducted by the Ministry of Politics, Law and Security alongside the Papuan National Police, criticized by human rights observers as lacking credibility, seem to be complicating matters still further.

14 students were arrested in Abepura and Waena for fundraising in support of the Komnas HAM investigations into Bloody Paniai. This case echoes the Yahukimo arrests in March 2015, where more than a hundred people were arrested in relation to a week-long fundraising event for Cyclone Pam victims in Vanuatu. The arrests show that public rallies of any kind in Papua continue to be suppressed, even those for humanitarian purposes.

Papuans Behind Bars: June 2015: Lawyers denied access while detainees tortured | West Papua Media Alerts.

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