2 Aug 2013

Reports of mass killings in Puncak Jaya remain hard to verify

10:28 am on 2 August 2013

The West Papua-based Human rights group Elsham says it remains difficult to verify reports of a massacre by Indonesian security forces in a remote part of Papua province.

Reports surfaced in May that about forty West Papuans had been executed by military or paramilitary police in Papua's Puncak Jaya region.

The reports were dismissed by Indonesian authorities but a reported increase in the security forces deployment in the area is being linked to casualties.

Rights groups have little access to the remote region which is controlled by the military and Kopassus troops.

Elsham's Paul Mambrasar told Johnny Blades there remains a lack of hard evidence.

PAUL MAMBRASAR: A lot of sources quoted information from church people or people who came out from those areas, Tingginambut and in Mulia or Puncak areas and that it why I said we cannot be certain or confirm that it's the military or Kopassus. Part of the information also came from KNPB and there's nothing wrong with that but it's just that they too cannot provide evidence, in this case no photographs or pictures, but certainly there's no doubt that some killings took place there.

JOHNNY BLADES: Why is there no doubt that the killings took place?

PM: Because there has been quite a deployment of troops or the military and also the mobile brigade in the Puncak Jaya regency in particular so by that fact alone we are sure that some operation took place there. So it seems information coming out from that particular case was limited given large number of troops deployment there, we are sure. Why deploy so many military personnel and police mobile brigade there then something must have been going on up there and even the fact that the resistance or the rebels are poorly armed then we might think that the casualty if the operation did take place then we think the civilians were the victims but then again access to information is still difficult even from our part my organisation at the moment we do not have someone who is stationed there so I personally and my organisation we cannot be certain or confirm the exact number of victims.