INDONESIAN POLICE CHIEF SAYS CRACKDOWN ON IRIAN JAYA STUDENTS PREVENTED

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JAYAPURA, Indonesia (May 17, 2001 - Joyo Indonesian News/AFP/Tapol)---An Indonesian police official reportedly implicated in human rights abuses against students says he had to act firmly to prevent Irian Jaya becoming a major killing ground.

Press reports in the Irian Jaya capital Wednesday said the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights recommended that four senior police officers be investigated by the attorney general in connection with a brutal raid last December.

Human rights investigators found that police summarily executed one student, beat another two to death in custody and seriously injured 33 during raids on dormitories, following an attack on a local police station.

Two officers were murdered when tribesmen armed with spears and arrows attacked the station in Abepura, outside downtown Jayapura.

Police blamed the December attack on separatist rebels.

"If I hadn’t taken firm action I was worried that Jayapura, Abepura and the surrounding area could become worse than Sampit," Superintendant Daud Sihombing, chief of district police, told AFP Wednesday.

More than 400 people were slaughtered in Sampit, a city in the Indonesian province of Central Kalimantan, during weeks of an ethnic pogrom by Dayak tribesmen on Madurese settlers that started in February.

"Police acted on regulations founded in law," Sihombing, 44, said.

"Because there had been an attack, for sure the police are going to carry out searches."

A civilian security guard also died in an attack on a nearby government building. Several officers were wounded and buildings burned.

Sihombing, who has spent four years in this remote, resource-rich province, says he has no regrets for acting firmly within the bounds of the law.

"If, for the sake of that, I’m found to have made a mistake and then fired, then I’ll be proud, as a hero who defends the sovereignty of this nation," said Sihombing, who commands nearly 1,000 officers.

Reports said human rights investigators have also urged the attorney general to investigate Inspector General Silvanus Wenas, the province’s police chief at the time, as well as Jhonny Wainal, a senior officer in the paramilitary mobile brigade, and the Abepura precinct chief Alex Korwa.

The Cenderawasih Pos newspaper said the senior officers are among 25 people recommended for investigation, either as being directly responsible for rights violations, for having operational command, or for giving orders.

The newspaper said investigators would deliver their recommendations to the attorney general this week.

Their investigation is reported to have found police stomped on the heads of students, hit them with rifle butts and tried to cover up their actions.

There was no evidence that students attacked the police station, investigators said.

Paul Barber TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign 25 Plovers Way, Alton Hampshire GU34 2JJ Tel/Fax: 01420 80153 Email: [email protected]  Internet: www.gn.apc.org/tapol 

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