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Indonesia: Fear for safety: Yopy Karma

, Index number: ASA 21/072/1998

Yopy Karma and up to 229 other people are still being detained after they were arrested during a pro-independence demonstration in Irian Jaya. Several deaths have occured recently when troops have opened fire on similar peaceful demonstrations.

PUBLIC AI Index: ASA 21/72/98
UA 193/98 Fear for safety 7 July 1998
INDONESIAYopy Karma & 229 others
At least one person has been killed, 30 injured and 271 others arrested in
the course of recent operations by the security forces to break up
pro-independence demonstrations in towns across Indonesia’s easternmost
province, Irian Jaya. At least 230 people are believed to be still detained.
Information from this remote area of Indonesia is scarce and there are
conflicting reports about the number of casualties and detainees from the
various demonstrations. A clear pattern, however, is emerging regarding the
use of excessive force to break up pro-independence protests, which are taking
place in various locations in the province.
In Biak, a small island off the northern coast of Irian Jaya, a number of people
were killed and others injured when troops opened fire on a peaceful flag-raising
ceremony on 6 July 1998. It is not known how many fatalities there were.
Twenty-three people are believed to be in the local hospital. The nature of
their injuries is not known as the security forces are preventing local people
from entering the hospital.
According to a report from the news agency Agence France Presse, the regional
military commander, Colonel Agus Edyono, confirmed that live ammunition and
rubber bullets had been used during the attack. He confirmed that 20 people
were in hospital as a result of their injuries, but that he had heard of no
deaths. The local police chief, Hotman Siagian, is quoted as saying that 180
people had been arrested in connection with the demonstration. According to
one report, one of those detained is Yopy Karma, who has been shot in both
On 3 July 1998 the security forces opened fire on demonstrators at a university
in Jayapura, the capital of Irian Jaya. The protest is believed to have begun
peacefully and to have turned violent after an Indonesian intelligence officer
was spotted in the crowd and badly beaten. A law student, Steven Suripatti,
was shot in the head and is now critically ill in hospital. A schoolgirl, Corina
Onim, was also wounded by gunfire.
Forty three people were arrested in Jayapura, including two priests. All have
now been released but six people have to report daily to the security forces.
Students are still reported to be demonstrating at the university, raising
fears that there may be further arrests and casualties.
Another death occurred on 2 July, when the security forces broke up a peaceful
pro-independence demonstration outside the local parliament in Sorong in the
north west of the province. The man concerned is reported to have died of gunshot
wounds. Five others were injured.
Demonstrations connected to another flag-raising ceremony are currently
believed to be taking place in Wamena in the Baliem Valley. According to the
state news agency, Antara, 50 people have been arrested. There are serious
concerns that the security forces may resort to excessive or lethal force to
break up this demonstration.
Opposition to Indonesian rule within Irian Jaya has been both armed and peaceful
since de facto authority over Irian Jaya was transferred from the Netherlands
to Indonesia in 1963 and a subsequent plebiscite in 1969, which resulted in
a vote for integration. The Free Papua Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka -
OPM) is the most prominent group advocating independence for Irian Jaya, or
West Papua as it is known to local people. The OPM advocates armed struggle,
but many supporters of independence have employed peaceful means including
demonstrations, flag-raising ceremonies, political discussion groups and
appeals to the UN and other groups.
Members of the OPM and peaceful supporters of independence have been the victims
of human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions,
"disappearances", arbitrary arrest, torture, ill-treatment and imprisonment
as prisoners of conscience.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in Bahasa Indonesia, English or your own language:
- expressing concern at reports of deaths and injuries in the context of
operations by the security forces to break up demonstrations in Irian Jaya
and calling for immediate, impartial and thorough investigations into these
incidents and guarantees that those found to be responsible will be brought
to justice;
- requesting that orders be issued to members of the security forces in Irian
Jaya to exercise restraint in dealing with pro-independence demonstrations
and to act at all times in accordance with the United Nations Code of Conduct
for Law Enforcement Officials;
- expressing concern that those detained may have been arrested for the peaceful
expression of their views and should therefore be immediately and
unconditionally released;
- seeking guarantees that all detainees be given immediate access to independent
legal representatives, members of their families and to medical attention.
Commander of the Armed Forces (ABRI)
General Wiranto
Panglima ABRI
Markas Besar ABRI
Jl. Medan merdeka Barat No 13
Jakarta Timur
Faxes: + 6221 36 1471 + 6221 37 8144, + 6221 35 6404
Salutation: Dear General Wiranto
Military Commander Region VIII/Trikora
(covers Irian Jaya)
Major General Amir Sembiring
Pangdam VIII/Trikora
Markas Besar KODAM VIII/Trikora
Jayapura, Irian Jaya, Indonesia
Telegrams: Maj. Gen. Amir Sembiring, Markas Besar KODAM VIII/Trikora, Jayapura,
Salutation: Dear Major General Sembiring
President Habibie
Presiden RI
Istana Negara
Jl Veteran
Jakarta Pusat, Indonesia
Faxes (via Ministry of Foreign Affiars) + 6221 360 517/380 5511/345 7782/360
and to diplomatic representatives of Indonesia accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 18 August 1998.

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