29 Jan 2007

Human rights group says fishing company staff attacked 14 Papuans defending traditional grounds

10:23 am on 29 January 2007

A human rights group says Indonesian security forces, working privately for a Chinese fishing company, have detained and tortured 14 people trying to protect their traditional fishing area in Papua province.

The Institute for Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights says the local Yawasir people were beaten and tortured when they asserted their customary rights by removing fishing nets belonging to fish-processing firm PT Minatama Mutiara.

One of the men is reported to have died.

The Institute's spokesman, Matthew Jamieson, told AFP the incident is reported to have occured just before Christmas near the southern end of the border with Papua New Guinea.

Citing church sources from the coastal town of Merauke, the Institute says an Indonesian employee of the Chinese-owned company and three local men acting as police deputies detained and abused the 14 from the Mariana Strait.