John M. Miller, East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN), +1-718-596-7668
The December 16 killing of pro-Papuan independence leader Kelly Kwalik by Indonesian police risks further alienation of Papuans and is likely to seriously undermine Papuan efforts to begin an internationally-mediated dialogue with the Indonesian government. Simultaneous police allegations that Kwalik was involved in lethal attacks in the Timika area in this year and in 2002 are not credible. Making Kwalik a scapegoat only serves to mask the failure of Indonesian authorities to credibly resolve these cases.
The evidence clearly points to Indonesian military involvement in the 2002 attacks, which resulted in the deaths of three teachers, including two Americans, at the Freeport mine. Recently, Kwalik in a meeting with security officials categorically denied that Papuan pro-independence fighters were behind this year's attacks near the mine. His denial of responsibility was supported by police officials, who countered initial claims by military officials that the attacks were the work of the pro-independence fighters.
Kwalik has in recent years endorsed a Papua-wide effort to seek a negotiated settlement with Jakarta by creating a Zone of Peace in the region.
Violent protests by Papuans angered over the killing of yet another Papuan leader underscore how distrustful Papuans are of Indonesian security authorities. The killing could lead to further hardening of Papuan attitudes toward cooperation with Jakarta.
Beyond these consequences, there are immediate questions:
- Was Kwalik's presence a result of police subterfuge? Was he lured from his jungle stronghold by police offer of discussion along the lines of a meeting with the chief of police several months earlier?
- What is the fate of those arrested at the time of the shooting of Kwalik, including that of the ten year old boy among those detained?
- Was appropriate, timely, medical attention afforded to the wounded Kwalik after he was shot?
- In the wake of this killing, will the Indonesian Government finally respond to efforts by Papuans to launch an internationally facilitated dialogue to address critical issues, including security force brutality and legal impunity, marginalization of Papuans in their own land and environmental destruction?