Rights group says security forces unlawfully killed 72 Papuans in past year

Indonesian police blockade a protest in the Papuan capital of Jayapura
Indonesian police blockade a protest in the Papuan capital of Jayapura. Image: Whens Tebay/RNZ Pacific

RNZ Pacific

A West Papua rights group claims Indonesian police and soldiers have carried out at least 72 extrajudicial killings over the past year.

The report by the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS) said the police were responsible for 50 of the unlawful killings, with the remainder committed by military personnel.

The latest report situated the unlawful killings in the context of a “narrowing of democratic space” and “massive violations of rights related to the basic principles of democracy” by President Joko Widodo’s administration.

“The widespread practice of extrajudicial killings throughout 2022 by security personnel shows that they are like wolves in sheep’s clothing who are ready to pounce when there’s an opportunity,” KontraS researcher Rozy Brilian told reporters, according to a report by Benar News.

The article quoted Rozy as saying that most of those allegedly killed by police were under criminal investigation and at least 12 of the cases involved torture.

While six Indonesian soldiers were arrested recently for their involvement in the deaths of four Papuans in Mimika regency in the unsettled Papua region, the report claims the security forces still enjoy a high degree of impunity for illegal behavior.

“This is a reminder of the considerable degree of continuity between Suharto’s military-backed New Order, in which the security forces enjoyed political prominence and vast power, and the democratic system that was established after the regime’s fall in 1998,” the authors said.

KontraS said far from investigating or prosecuting those responsible for past rights outrages, the Indonesian government has often promoted them to key positions in government.

In particular, KontraS pointed to the appointment of Major-General Untung Budiharto, the alleged perpetrator of enforced disappearances during the terminal crisis of the Suharto government in 1997 and 1998, as commander of the Greater Jakarta Command Area.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ. 

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