UN Indigenous Peoples' Day marked by killing of West Papuan

August 12, 2008

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A West Papuan man was shot and killed by Indonesian police on August 9, the UN Day for Indigenous Peoples.

The man was shot during a peaceful rally at Wamena, a town in the Papuan highlands, where an estimated 20,000 West Papuans had gathered.

Indonesian police started shooting into the ground in front of the crowd after four flags were raised: the UN flag, the Indonesian flag, an SOS flag, and the West Papuan Independence flag, the Morning Star, which the Indonesian government has banned.

The man killed, 35 year old Opinus Tabuni, was sitting near the fence of a local school when he was hit by a bullet. A spokesperson for the local police denied their involvement in the killing, claiming that Mr Tabuni ‘might have been accidentally killed by protestors’ in the crowd.

‘This incident is a clear indication that the Indonesian police believe that unfurling the Morning Star flag is enough justification to shoot at people in a peaceful rally,’ said Paula Makabory from the Institute for Papua Advocacy and Human Rights. ‘The Indonesian police also have the audacity to deny they have killed this man when he was shot in front of everyone.’

Two other men were reportedly seriously injured by Indonesian security forces – one shot, the other beaten by police using rifle butts.

View image of West Papuan man, Opinus Tabuni, shot dead by Indonesian police (some may find this image disturbing)

Papuan Tribes