Two months after the Wamena riots, another major violent incident took place, this time in Abepura, a college town about ten kilometers from the provincial capital, Jayapura. As the testimony below establishes, the two cases are linked in important respects, including in the rage against "Wamena people" (orang Wamena) expressed by police officers responsible for some of the worst abuses in the case.
Shortly after 1:00 a.m. on December 7, 2000, an unidentified group of people31 attacked a police post near the market in Abepura. Two policemen, Obeth Petrus Epaa (Polsek) and Bharada Indra (Brimob), were killed in the initial attack and a security guard, Paulus Padama, was killed shortly thereafter at a nearby government office. Although there is not yet a definitive account of the attack, police officials have said that pro-independence highlanders (orang pegunungan tengah) carried out the attack and guerrilla leader Matias Wenda, a highland independence leader, is said to have approved the idea of such an attack a few days before the raid.32 Accounts have varied as to whether the attackers used only bows and arrows or used firearms as well. The attackers also set fire to two shops at the Abepura market.
Soon after the attack began, Brimob and police reinforcements arrived at the market. The perpetrators quickly dispersed in various directions and none were caught. A small group of the attackers headed for a nearby student dormitory - the Ninmin dormitory, home primarily to students from the Mapnduma area in the central highlands and housing the office of the West Papuan National Youth Committee (Komite Nasional Pemuda Papua Barat) - located up a hill about 300 meters from the Abepura market. The attackers appealed to students to join their uprising, but then left when the students refused to do so. Shortly after the attackers left, a group of Brimob troops, apparently in hot pursuit, stormed the Ninmin dormitory. The troop awakened students who were not already awake, rounded them up, twenty-three in all, and began brutally beating them. Two would die in custody, dozens suffered serious injuries. Over the next twenty-two hours, Brimob and police troops went to four other highlander residential areas in the Jayapura area (in Abepura, Skyline, and Sentani), and to the Yapen Waropen dormitory, home to students from the coastal district of the same name (the students at which are known for leading protests at the university), rounding up and brutalizing people as they went, often in broad daylight, shooting and killing one high school student and injuring many more. Within twenty-four hours, three highland students had been killed, and one hundred individuals had been detained, dozens of whom were badly beaten and tortured.
In March 2001, Human Rights Watch visited Papua and interviewed students from the Ninmin dormitory and other residential areas and has obtained written testimonies from a number of other victims and eyewitnesses. The testimonies show a remarkably similar pattern in the attacks in the different residential areas in the Abepura-Jayapura area. This was a methodical revenge attack in which all highlanders were the targets; individuals were not punished for their deeds, but for being from the same tribe or region known as home to _troublemakers._ This was not, as some Indonesian authorities have claimed,33 a reasonable response to the murder of their colleagues.
A student who had been playing cards near the Ninmin dormitory at the time of the attack told Human Rights Watch:
That morning at about 1:30, we heard the shouting, as if people were going to war. Minutes later, we saw thick smoke and flames from the shops below. There were also shots fired. With others who were playing cards, I went and immediately awakened the dormitory leader and seniors.
About ten minutes later, a highlander we didn_t know came running up to the dormitory, yelling for us to join the fight for independence. He wasn_t wearing a shirt. The dormitory leader asked what group he was with and, why, if they wanted us to join, they hadn_t told us anything about the planned action beforehand. The dormitory leader forbade any of us from going down to the road or market. The shirtless man went racing back down to the road, shouting to three others that the students weren_t following. They took off down Jl. Biak [the road leading away from the dormitory.] We then held a brief meeting, and the dormitory leader and seniors said that no one could leave the dormitory. We decided to block the road with branches from mango trees.34
One victim interviewed by Human Rights Watch, provided the following detailed account of what happened next:
Shortly after 2:00 a.m., two Brimob trucks came up and parked at the side of the road below. Four Brimob headed toward us pushing aside the roadblock [branches], firing [warning shots] left and right as they approached. I was afraid and, with six others, ran to the dormitory rooms above.35 We could hear the Brimob troops kicking in the door of the lower dormitory and smashing the windows. They were saying things like: _You Wamena people did this, you make people suffer, you killed our friends, [they were] good people._ They ordered everyone who had gathered in front of the lower dormitory to go down to the road. We felt we should join the others out of solidarity and followed.
Once we got down to the intersection, we were told not to move and were ordered to sit in the middle of the road, with Brimob standing behind us. [There were twenty-three of us in all, fourteen men and nine women.] Then it began. No questions, they just started kicking us, hitting us with rifle butts on the head, shoulder and neck, hitting us with rattan on the sides of the face. At that point, the women weren_t beaten but they were being intimidated.36
After a few minutes of the beatings, we were ordered onto the waiting trucks. Already in pain, we were told to keep our heads down. We stopped first at Brimob headquarters, and were ordered off the trucks, the women first. The Brimob commander on duty, however, didn_t want us there, and we were taken to the Jayapura police station [Polres Jayapura].
[When we arrived the police station,] we were ordered off the trucks and told to sit in the yard in front of the police building. There were hundreds of police, Brimob and other security forces waiting for us and some of them immediately started in on us. There was blood streaming from my mouth and nose when someone finally came and took our names.
We were then ordered to take off our shirts and to sit separated from one another a meter or so, our legs and arms stretched straight in front of us. They started beating us on our shins and forearms with batons, rifle butts, shovels, 2 by 4s, pieces of hard rubber, and rattan whips. They also beat us with the same objects on the upper back, on the shoulders, and the back of the head, making deep wounds. Occasionally one of the officers would stomp down on our bloody shins with their boots. If you screamed, the beatings only increased.
Many Brimob joined the beatings -- there were probably more than a dozen Brimob hitting us, but I couldn_t really tell, I was just trying to keep my head down for protection. This continued for at least an hour.
Then we were ordered into the station. They made us walk on our shins, incredibly painful because of the wounds, with our hands over our heads. Once in the station, the beatings continued. This time it was even worse. They sprayed our backs with some kind of liquid that stung when it hit the wounds -- the pain was unbelievable. Groups of Brimob and police took turns beating us. My head was aching and I could feel myself losing consciousness, like a heavy sleepiness, beaten so badly I couldn_t feel anything anymore.
Later, they started calling people in to another room for questioning. Six of us couldn_t walk. We were ordered to stand but couldn_t. Everything was dark, cloudy, I couldn_t move.
All the others went first. Three of us were dragged to another room, semi-unconscious. I don_t know how many hours I was there, but finally my breath came back. Again, I was ordered to go report, but couldn_t get up. I was dragged up the stairs and asked questions. I couldn_t respond. I was taken back down, kicked again.
We were then moved to a very small cell; people kept being forced in from the back. It was so full we couldn_t lie down and the heat and stuffiness were intolerable. Brimob continued to come in and beat us with batons. They took turns. No one could sleep. Have mercy it was hot! Finally, late in the afternoon, a Papuan man in plainclothes working at the station came in and said, _get them some air, these are not animals,_ and we were allowed out. Shortly thereafter, we were allowed to go home.
My body was swollen and bloody everywhere. I couldn_t pee. I was taken to the Abepura hospital, and spent the night there. Then I was taken to the dormitory and from there to the Dian Harapan hospital. I was hospitalized for one week. Four months later, I have deep scarring on my back and shoulders, scars on my face, and pain in my ribs.37
Other students described the interrogations to which the students were subjected. The contents of the interrogations show that police were not particularly concerned with guilt or innocence. Although student victims say the police asked a few questions about the attack on the police post, when the students replied that they had no information, the police insulted and berated the students, deriding highlanders generally as stubborn, stupid, and violent. Students reported the following statements: _It_s you Wamena people that are making chaos in Jayapura,_ _You should be like people from Sentani or Biak [coastal areas] who know how to do things peacefully,_ _You might get a degree but you_ll never get a job._38
The Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy (commonly referred to by its Indonesian acronym Elsham), a Papuan nongovernmental organization, reported similar derogatory statements, including: _Your mother eats pig and you have the brains of a pig._ _Even with your college degrees you won_t get any job, you Papuans are stupid. Stupid and yet you think you can be independent._ _You put your hopes in a guy like Tom Beanal39 who knows nothing._40 One student said that he cried out during the beating _Jesus, why?!_ and a Brimob officer said: _Your god Jesus is dead; keep calling him but I guarantee you he_s not coming to your rescue._41
A written account of the events of December 7 prepared by students from the Ninmin dormitory confirms the narrative above.42 The Ninmin students_ account notes that at least two of the detainees at the Jayapura police station, after being forced to mop up the blood, dirt, and liquid that gathered on the cell floor after the detainees had been beaten sprayed, were forced to drink the mixture.
In the twenty-four hours following the attack on the Ninmin dormitory, Brimob raided five other sites in the Abepura area, subjecting the people they detained, most of them highlanders, to similar beatings. A chronology of the events follows:
1:30 a.m., raid by unidentified attackers on police post in Abepura; two officers and one security guard are killed.
2:00 a.m., Brimob troops raid the Ninmin dormitory; twenty-three students are detained, beaten and tortured; two students, Johnny Karunggu, age 18, and Orry Doronggi, age 17, are beaten to death in custody.
5:30 a.m., Brimob troops raid the Yapen Waropen student dormitory in Abepura; one student is shot, four are detained and beaten at the Abepura police post [Polsek Abepura].
5:30 a.m., Brimob troops raid a residential area near Abepura beach. Four people are detained and held at the Abepura police post [Polsek Abepura] for two days; they are kicked and beaten with implements including iron bars, causing one to become permanently paralyzed.
8:00 a.m., Brimob troops raid a neighborhood on Jalan Baru in the Kotaraja section of Abepura. Forty-eight residents are arrested, taken away in three trucks, and detained and beaten at the Jayapura police station together with the Ninmin students.
9:30 a.m., Brimob troops attack a residence in the Skyline residential area. Eighteen-year-old Elkius Suhuniab, who attempts to flee out the back of the residence upon arrival of the troops, is shot and killed. Two others are injured, one shot in the head; Elkius_s younger brother Lilimus is detained and taken to the Jayapura police station.
11:30 p.m., Brimob troops raid the Ilaga Students' Association (Ikatan Mahasiswa Ilaga or IMI) student dormitory. Fourteen students are rounded up, taken first to Brimob headquarters and then to the Jayapura police station.43
One resident told Human Rights Watch what he saw during the 8:00 a.m. Brimob raid on Kotaraja: _Brimob troops dragged people from their homes and just started beating them up. All the people from the central highlands were beaten up, with no regard for who was who, whether they_d done anything wrong or not. Then they loaded them in a truck and drove off._44
Students at the IMI dormitory, home primarily to ethnic Dani students from the central highlands, described a pattern similar to that described by the Ninmin students. The IMI attack differed only in that it took place more than twenty hours later at 11:30 p.m., and in that the students were beaten at Brimob headquarters before being taken to the Jayapura police station where they were again beaten. One student told the local human rights group Elsham what happened at Brimob headquarters:
At Brimob headquarters in Kotaraja, we were ordered off the trucks and made to crawl toward the Brimob reception hall [Aula Brimob]. Brimob were lined up on either side of us and beat and kicked us in the ribs as we crawled, stepping on our heads if we tried to raise them. Once we got inside, they made us take off our shirts and pants so that we were only wearing our underwear. They then sprayed us with toilet water that smelled of human excrement and then whipped us with rattan canes from head to foot.45
The account of Swiss journalist Oswald Iten corroborates the brutality of police and Brimob troops at the Jayapura police station. Iten had been detained by police in Jayapura since December 2 for taking _political photographs_ in the province and was being held in police custody. He was held in custody for eleven days before being released and, three days later, deported. He later wrote about his experiences, including what he described as the _unspeakably shocking_ scene he witnessed on the early morning of December 7:
About half a dozen policemen were swinging their clubs at bodies that were lying on the floor and, oddly enough, did not cry out; at most, only soft groans issued from them. After a few long seconds, a guard saw me looking and struck his club against the bars of the cell block door. I quickly went back to my usual spot, from where I could still see the clubs, staffs and split bamboo whips at their work. Their ends were smeared with blood and blood sprayed the walls all the way up to the ceiling. Sometimes I saw the policemen hopping up on benches, continuing to strike blows from there or jumping back down on the bodies below. Thousands of blows must have descended on what to me was an unknown number of people.46
Iten reported that, later that morning, some of the student detainees were put in the same cell with him. One of the student detainees died in his presence:
Most of [the detainees] remained motionless where they fell, either unconscious or utterly exhausted.... The last one to enter (my cell) was a large man, who fell over the bodies on the floor and lay there groaning horribly. He tried repeatedly to straighten himself up, only to fall back down again. Now and again the faces of guards appeared at the barred window, looking down impassively at the tangle of maltreated bodies. In the back of the big man's head, there appeared to be a coin-sized hole through which I believed to spot some brain tissue. After nearly an hour and a half of groaning and spasmodic movement, his suffering body visibly neared its end. About two meters from me, his powerful body raised itself again and his head struck the wall. A final labored breath issued from him, then his head dropped down onto the cement floor. At last his agony was over. After a while, three lackeys came and dragged the body out. Later I learned that the man who had been tortured to death was named Ori Dronggi [sic]. I saw a picture of his corpse in the newspaper, Cendrawasih Pos. The dispatch said three dead Papuans had been brought to the morgue and the police stated they had _died in the fighting._47
Autopsy reports state that both Orry Doronggi and Johnny Karunggu, who also died in custody, had cuts and bruises over their entire bodies and had suffered severe blows to the back of the head. Both autopsy reports listed the cause of death as a cracked skull.48
The initial police response was to deny that any students had been killed in custody and to threaten anyone who dared to report it. Since the incident, moreover, police officials have only begrudgingly and intermittently cooperated with the civilian team sent from Jakarta to investigate the case.
Because the events took place near the provincial capital, literally down the street from some of Papua_s leading human rights and legal aid organizations, information spread quickly. Within days, leaders of the two leading rights groups in Papua, the Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocay (Elsham) and the Legal Aid Institute (LBH-Jayapura), made hard-hitting statements on the brutality of the police response and these were published in a local newspaper. The response of the authorities was to go after the bearers of the bad news.
Demianus Wakman, the head of LBH-Jayapura was interviewed in the Papua Post, one of two daily papers that circulate throughout the province. On December 11, his statements were carried in an article entitled "After Abepura Incident, Security Forces Should Go After Perpetrators, Not Tribes_ ("Pasca Insiden Abepura, Aparat Harus Cari Pelaku Bukan Suku_) that accused the police of using repressive measures indiscriminately against people from the interior. In response, the police summoned him at about 10:00 a.m. on December 11. He first assumed that he was being called to discuss a legal aid case that he had previously raised with police authorities, but was told that he was being investigated in connection with a possible criminal proceeding. He was detained into the evening and not allowed to return home until Abdul Munib, the editor of the Papua Post, who had also been summoned by the police, arrived near midnight.49 Munib and two colleagues, in turn, were held from midnight until about 6:00 a.m. Asked about his night at the police station, Munib commented: _They were trying to intimidate us. It_s psy-war, to make you scared, but you_ve got to ignore it and do your job._50
Two days later, Elsham issued a press release reporting that three Papuan students had been killed in the police action. The police then summoned Johanis Bonay, one of the directors of the organization, and, when he arrived, told him that he was being detained under Article 311 of the Indonesian Criminal Code for alleged libel. Bonay told Human Rights Watch that he was held overnight, interrogated from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on December 14, and from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. the following day. When he was released on December 15, Bonay was told the case would proceed, but he has since heard nothing, apart from comments in local newspaper articles attributed to local police saying that the case would be pursued.51
From the beginning, the commission of inquiry faced tremendous obstacles. When Jakarta-based team members arrived in Papua to start investigating the police, the local office of the Justice and Human Rights Ministry sent an official letter stating its legal opinion that the investigation was illegal and advising the provincial chief of police not to cooperate with investigators.54
Once police agreed to submit to questioning by the investigation team, officers stonewalled the investigators, giving little concrete information. Then, when the commission had interviewed dozens of student victims, the police called in more than twenty of them for interrogation, suggesting that they were suspected of involvement in the December 7 attack on the police post. The timing of the police interrogation of the students and threat that the cases might be reopened -- more than four months after their initial detention and just as the inquiry team began its work - strongly suggested an effort at intimidation. After a protest by inquiry team investigators and intervention from national police headquarters in Jakarta, this intimidation ceased. When the commission issued a statement on April 20, however, stating that the commission_s investigations gave it reason to believe that gross human rights violations had been committed (a necessary finding under Indonesian law if there is to be establishment of a human rights tribunal), the national chief of police publicly criticized the commission, alleging that it had prejudged the case.55
Despite the overwhelming evidence that security forces were responsible for torture and murder on December 7, these police responses suggest that there is still a difficult path ahead to successful prosecution.
The main police objective appears to have been retaliation and intimidation to demonstrate that if the police are attacked, civilian members of the community from which the attackers are believed to have originated will be made to suffer as a result. Highlanders were guilty by association, with no distinction between civilian and armed highlander, between the beliefs or behavior of the different individuals being detained. Such retaliation, according to Papuans, is not new and has been an important factor contributing to the growth of the movement for independence.
Justice is necessary not only for the victims but in order for the Indonesian government to reestablish a modicum of credibility and thus legitimacy in Papua. If there is to be hope of rebuilding public trust in government, the perpetrators of this kind of evident injustice must be held accountable. Prosecution of the Abepura crimes, however, is only a first step and should be followed by prosecution of those responsible for the worst atrocities of the past. There is a high level of awareness of these crimes among Papuans today, and it is critical that the architects of the military policies that allowed for terrorizing and murder of civilians over the past four decades be brought to justice.
31 The number of attackers is unknown. Accounts circulating in Jayapura during a Human Rights Watch visit in early March 2001 ranged from ten to hundreds.
32 Human Rights Watch interview [name withheld], New York, March 29, 2001.
33 See "Indonesian police chief says crackdown on students prevented bloodbath," Agence France-Presse, May 17, 2001 (quoting Jayapura police chief Daud Sihombing that "Police acted on regulations founded in law.... Because there had been an attack, for sure the police are going to carry out searches"); _Rights team grills police over student killings in Irian Jaya,_ Indonesian Observer, March 16, 2001.
34 Human Rights Watch interview with SG, Abepura, March 6, 2001.
35 The Ninmin dormitory consists of two single-story buildings, one immediately behind and slightly uphill from the other.
36 Another student reported that, once at the jail, three police women were assigned to the female detainees, beating them, and, in one case, burning one with a cigarette on her hand. Human Rights Watch interview with TC, Abepura, March 5, 2001.
37 Human Rights Watch interview with SW, Abepura, March 6, 2001.
38 Human Rights Watch interview with BL, Abepura, March 5, 2001.
39 Pro-independence leader from the highland Amungme tribe.
40 Lembaga Studi dan Advokasi HAM Papua Barat (Elsham), _Laporan: Kasus Abepura 07 Desember 2000,_ December 2000, text accompanying note 20.
41 Human Rights Watch interview with EW, Abepura, March 5, 2001.
42 Badan pengurus komunitas pelajar mahasiswa Nduga, Asrama _Ninmin_ Abepura, _Kronologis dan Susunan Foto-foto yang diuraikan terjadinya Peristiwa tgl (7) Desember/dini hari Abepura; Yang menyebabkan terjadinya pembantaian terhadap Komunitas Pelajar Mahasiswa Nduga Asrama Ninmin Jl. Biak Abepura,_ Jayapura, February 2001 (Copy on file at Human Rights Watch).
43 _Laporan: Kasus Abepura 07 Desember 2000,_ Lembaga Studi dan Advokasi HAM Papua Barat [Elsham], December 2000; Human Rights Watch interviews, Abepura, March 3-8, 2001.
44 Human Rights Watch interview with Kotaraja resident [name withheld], Abepura, March 7, 2001.
45 _Laporan: Kasus Abepura 07 Desember 2000,_ Lembaga Studi dan Advokasi HAM Papua Barat [Elsham], December 2000, text accompanying n. 15 (copy of report on file at Human Rights Watch).
46 _Swiss journalist witnesses torture in West Papua jail,_ Neue Zurcher Zeitung, December 22, 2000.
48 Photocopies of signed autopsy reports are included as appendices in _Laporan: Kasus Abepura 07 Desember 2000,_ Lembaga Studi dan Advokasi HAM Papua Barat [Elsham], December 2000 (copy of report on file at Human Rights Watch).
49 HRW interview with Demianus Wakman, Abepura, March 4, 2001.
50 HRW interview with Abdul Munib, Abepura, March 6, 2001.
51 HRW interview with Johanis Bonay, Abepura, March 4, 2001. See also "Indonesian police to summon John Rumbiak over execution claims," Agence France-Presse, December 18, 2000.
52 Keputusan Ketua Komisi Nasional Hak Asasi Manusia Nomor: 020/KOMNAS HAM/II/2001 Tentang Pembentukan Komisi Penyelidikan Pelanggaran Hak Asasi Manusia di Propinsi Papua/Irian Jaya, February 6, 2001 (copy on file at Human Rights Watch); see also Komnas HAM Bentuk KPP HAM Aceh dan Papua, Kompas, January 11, 2001.
54 Surat Kakanwil Departemen Kehakiman dan HAM Irian Jaya tanggal 14 Maret 2001 No. W19-UM.02.06-36.
55 _Polri Protes KPP HAM Abepura,_ Ankara, April 24, 2001.