Police arrest, torture and kill Papuan tribal people

December 17, 2007

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Police in West Papua are killing, torturing and intimidating the province's tribal people with impunity. Police shot dead two Papuan women and injured another as they protested on 5 December near the British and American-owned Freeport mine.

Less than two weeks before the shootings, the UN special rapporteur on torture said he had found evidence of Papuan detainees being electrocuted, suffering systematic beatings and even being shot in the legs at close range. He said the police were the main culprits. 

There are also increasing reports of 'mysterious' and 'accidental' killings, and abductions and assaults of young Papuan women by military and police forces.

None of the government officials the special rapporteur met in Indonesia could cite a single case in which a police officer had been found guilty and sentenced by a criminal court for abuse of a detainee, despite the practice being widespread and systematic.

Human rights defender and lawyer, Sabar Iwanggin, has been charged with 'insulting the President' in a text message he forwarded to a friend. The message had already been circulated around thousands of Papuans. Sabar Iwanggin worked with the respected human rights organisation, Elsham West Papua. Elsham staff have been repeatedly intimidated and have received death threats.

Survival is concerned for the safety of Sabar Iwanggin whilst he awaits trial, and for the safety of others who stand up for the rights of the tribal peoples of West Papua.