Riots break out in Manokwari
Nethy Dharma Somba
The Jakarta Post
Hundreds of angry protestors set fire to two police posts at Sanggeng market and Amban in Manokwari, West Papua, on Wednesday after police shot dead escaped convict Timotius AP as he attempted to avoid being returned to Manokwari penitentiary.
“Demonstrators started a riot in Manokwari, they vandalized a number of food stalls at the Manokwari Port, set fire to two police posts and blockaded streets, which paralyzed traffic in the city,” said Papua Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. I Gede Sumerta Jaya.
The demonstrators paraded an empty coffin symbolizing the dead Timotius whose remains were in a funeral house in Venindi beach. As the crowd approached Manokwari Port, they met the police riot control unit and the trouble began.
“We immediately closed our shops as people went on a rampage in the streets, burning tires and shouting. We are still afraid to reopen our shops,” Erni, a Manokwari resident, told The Jakarta Post. Erni said her neighbors’ businesses also remained closed for fear of further rioting.
In July this year, Timotius, a recidivist convict responsible for numerous crimes, including robbery and rape, escaped from the Manokwari penitentiary but was recaptured and returned to prison on Sept. 13.
Three days later, on Sept. 16, he fled again and was arrested on Dec. 4 at around 5 p.m. local time. Officers shot him in the course of the arrest.
“He was rushed to the Manokwari Naval Hospital at 6 p.m. but doctors pronounced him dead upon arrival,” said Sumerta.
Police found a homemade pistol and caliber 5.56 ammunition on Timotius. His body was returned to his parents-in-law’s house on Jl. Baru, Manokwari. Sumerta said the situation in the city had returned to normal, with only light congestion in a few places.
Meanwhile, the director of Manokwari’s Institute of Research, Analysis and Development of Legal Aid, Yan Christian Warinussy, urged all elements of society in Manokwari to remain calm and not be provoked by the incident, and give the police a chance to resolve the case.
“Should the family find any indication of human rights violations, they have the right to file a lawsuit in accordance with existing procedures,” said Yan, adding that there were indications of third-party involvement in the numerous clashes in West Papua, which were aimed at inciting social conflict.
“There are parties that would prefer West Papua not to be peaceful by taking advantage of social issues to justify a heavier security force presence, especially given the proximity of the Tangguh liquid natural gas plant in Bintuni Bay,” said Yan.
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