Police killers of Papuan independence leader given special commendations

January 21, 2010

Yali men, Papua

Yali men, Papua © William Milliken/Survival

This page was created in 2010 and may contain language which is now outdated.

Fifty Indonesian police officers have received special commendations from the National Police Headquarters for killing the Papuan independence leader, Kelly Kwalik, last month.

The Indonesian police shot Kelly Kwalik in the thigh on December 16, 2009, and he died shortly after. The exact circumstances of his death remain unclear.

The Indonesian military and police have a long history of extra-judicial killings, arrest and torture of those suspected of supporting West Papua’s independence movement.

Despite having been involved in rebel activities with the Free Papua Movement (OPM) in the past, Kwalik had for many years renounced violence and had committed to seeking independence by peaceful means. Only weeks before his death he met with senior Indonesian security officials, at their request. Many Papuans suspect that he may have been lured into a trap by the promise of another such meeting.

Police have defended his killing by claiming that Kwalik was involved in the 2002 ambush of a convoy of buses that killed three teachers near the huge US-owned Grasberg copper and gold mine. They also said they believed he was behind a number of attacks in the mine area last year which had left eight people dead. However, the police at the time of both the 2002 and more recent killings had rejected the suggestion of OPM involvement.

Survival is calling on the government of Indonesia to investigate the circumstances of Kwalik’s death fully and to ensure that those members of the security forces who commit acts of violence against the Papuan people are brought to justice.


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