Indonesia: Human Rights and Pro-Independence Actions in Irian Jaya

III. Sorong and Jayapura

Other Sections

Table of Contents
I. Introduction
II. Background to the Demonstration
III. Sorong and Jayapura
IV. The Biak Demonstration
V. Bodies in Biak
VI. Wamena, Jayawijaya VII. Riots in Manokwari
VIII. Arrest of Theys Eluay and the National Dialogue Debate
IX. Appendix: Arrests Since July 1998

On July 2, thousands of young people calling themselves Reform Forum of Students and the People of Sorong (Forum Reformasi Mahasiswa dan Masyarakat Sorong Irian Jaya) took part in a pro-independence demonstration in front of the district council of Sorong. They presented nine demands to the council in a document called "Political Position Statement." The demands included support for the proclamation of the independence of West Papua in July 1971; the granting of independence to West Papua as quickly as possible by President Habibie; immediate release of West Papuan political prisoners detained in Kalisosok Prison, Surabaya, Pamekasan Prison, Madura, and Cipinang Prison, Jakarta; withdrawal of Indonesian troops and all Indonesian people from West Papua; observance of the Rome promises made by former President Soeharto; attention to the letter from U.S. members of Congress dated May 22, 1998 and the appeal dated May 26, 1998 from the U.S. Senate to the government of Indonesia regarding self-determination for the people of West Papua; review of the U.N.-supervised "Act of Free Choice" undertaken in 1969 in West Irian; cancelling of all political statements from Irian Jaya that indicate that West Papua is under Indonesian administration; and the immediate dispatch of a team from the National Human Rights Commission to meet with the demonstrators in Sorong. When their appeals went unheeded, they began using violence, burning the district council building and several stores as well as the car belonging to the district head. As troops arrived, five people were reportedly shot; the crowd then attacked the district military commander, Lt. Col. Nico Obaja Woru, who had to be hospitalized.

The demonstration that led to the shootings of two students on July 3 began as students from Cenderawasih University held an "open forum" (mimbar bebas) on the campus in Abepura, a suburb of Jayapura. Trouble broke out after students spotted an intelligence agent from the local police sitting under a tree. According to reports, a group of students grabbed his identity card, confirmed that he was from intelligence, and began beating him up. They also took his pistol. The agent, Sergeant Dahlan, was initially listed in critical condition in a Jayapura hospital, and one newspaper reported he had died on Saturday. As word of the beating reached security forces, trucks full of anti-riot and regular army troops came into Abepura. Demonstrators were massed outside the campus on the main road and began throwing stones at the trucks. It was at this point that troops fired warning shots, according to the regional military commander. Soldiers then apparently opened fire into the crowd. A law student, Steven Suripatti, and a high school student, Corina Ruth Onim, were seriously wounded. Suripatti appeared to have been hit in the head by a regular bullet, although the military maintained they were using only blanks and rubber bullets; he later died in a Jayapura hospital. Ms. Onim, who was shot in the knees, was expected to recover. She was on the campus of the Iskijne Technical High School near the university at the time.

On July 5, Major General Sembiring, the regional military commander, apologized for the shootings and promised to investigate them; he said he did not know who fired the actual shots.

Indonesia: Human Rights and Pro-Independence Actions in Irian Jaya - Table of Contents