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JAKARTA, Indonesia (April 11, 2001 – Indonesian Observer/Kabar Irian)--The inquiry team investigating human rights violations in West Papua (Irian Jaya) has revealed its findings on abuses committed by police anti-riot troops following the Abepura incident that took place in December last year. An official said that two people were dead, while 34 others suffered serious wounds while in police custody.

At a press conference held at the National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM) office in Jakarta yesterday, the Commission to Investigate the Human Rights Abuses in Papua (KPP HAM Papua) revealed its findings on torture and other inhumane deeds conducted by police anti-riot Mobile Brigade (Brimob) personnel against local Papuans, following the attack on a number of government facilities and police stations in Abepura on December 7 last year.

Deputy head of the inquiry team Sita Aripurnami said the commission used testimonies of the victims and medical records from the doctors who examined them, to substantiate their findings. "The torture began from when they were picked up from their houses and boarded onto trucks which transported them to police custody at the Abepura and Jayapura police stations," Aripurnami said.

At the press conference Sita Aripurnami was accompanied by chairman of the inquiry team Albert Hasibuan, another member of the team Budi Hernawan, and a local Papuan rights campaigner Albert Rumbekwan.

"At the Jayapura police station alone, police cruelty claimed two lives, inflicted another local with a limp, and inflicted 33 others with severe wounds to various parts of their bodies," Aripurnami said.

Citing the witnesses' explanations, the two dead victims suffered skull fractures after their heads were repeatedly rammed by the Brimob troops.

The ill-fated locals were Ori Ndronggi and Joni Karunggu.

According to Aripurnami, after their ordeal in police custody, most of the victims suffered depression and trauma. She added that before agreeing to testify, the team experienced much difficulty in enticing them to talk. "They were afraid to talk with us after being battered and cursed by police," she said.

After being released, those people whose involvement in the attack on the police stations could not be proved, were continually threatened by the police. According to Aripurnami, police intimidated the released people by sending them summonses to return to the police station to be questioned again.

"KPP HAM Papua strongly believes that the police were more likely to use a violent approach rather than a legal one," said Aripurnami.

Aripurnami added that the team had reported to the National Police Chief General S. Bimantoro the violence that was conducted by his subordinates in the region. She said that Bimantoro had ordered West Papua Police Chief to stop the summonses against the released people.

KPP HAM Papua's establishment was endorsed by the government-sanctioned Komnas HAM.

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