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 Riots in Jayapura as police shoot dead Papuan activist

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BerichtOnderwerp: Riots in Jayapura as police shoot dead Papuan activist   Riots in Jayapura as police shoot dead Papuan activist Icon_minitimevr 15 jun 2012 - 8:16

The Jakarta Post, Jayapura/Jakarta Fri, 06/15/2012 8:45 AM

Papuans ran amok in Jayapura on Thursday, setting dozens of vehicles and buildings ablaze after a prominent independence activist was shot dead by police while resisting arrest.

Speaking at the State Palace in Jakarta on Thursday, National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo said that Mako Tabuni, the deputy chairman of the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB), was killed after he grabbed a weapon from an officer attempting to arrest him and fled.

Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Bigman L. Tobing provided a similar account, claiming that police officers scuffled with Tabuni as they attempted to detain him.

Eyewitnesses, however, told a different story. According to the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), whose representatives interviewed people who saw the shooting on the scene, Tabuni was suddenly and unexpectedly shot by a gunman in one of several cars on the street as he walked alone near the Perumnas 3 housing complex in Waena.

Several men appearing to be police officers in civilian clothes and carrying pistols and rifles, then exited the cars. Moments later, another gunshot was heard, according to the eyewitnesses.

Tabuni fell and was taken away by the armed men in one of the vehicles, Kontras said.

According to the police, the officers took Tabuni to Bhayangkara Police Hospital nearby, where he died about an hour later.

The police were attempting to arrest Tabuni for his alleged involvement in the recent spate of shootings and attacks in Papua recently, including the shooting of German tourist Pieter Dietmar Helmut on a beach in Jayapura on May 29.

Following Tabuni’s death, a crowd assembled on Jayapura’s streets and later went on a rampage. Witnesses said some of the rioters were carrying machetes.

“These people got mad after learning that their leader had been arrested and killed,” Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto said.

Four civilians were injured in the mayhem, according to the police. “One of the victims lost an arm,” Bigman said. Twenty-five motorcycles, four cars, and five shops were reportedly burned.

“The situation was chaotic. I fled Waena after seeing so many people carrying machetes,” Yonas, a public minivan driver, said.

Timur said that police officers and Indonesian Military (TNI) troops eventually brought the riot under control.

KNPB leader Buchtar Tabuni, who is reportedly not related to Mako, was arrested by the Papua Police on June 8 for allegedly organizing violent rallies in Jayapura.

The National Committee for West Papua has consistently pushed for a referendum on Papuan self-determination. Mako has frequently told the media that neither he nor the KNPB supported the use of violence in pursuing their goals.

The riots broke out just two days after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told members of his Cabinet that the violence that has racked the province was “small-scale”.

Violence in Indonesia’s easternmost region has escalated recently. Seventeen people, including several TNI members, have been killed in different places in Papua in the past month.

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