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Jakarta Post

Angry residents set fire to police station in Papua following shooting

  • Benny Mawel

    The Jakarta Post

Jayapura   /   Fri, May 24, 2019   /   07:40 am
Angry residents set fire to police station in Papua following shooting Deiyai regency in Papua is marked by a red line. (JP/File)

Angry residents in Wagethe in Deiyai regency, Papua, set fire to Tigi Police station on Tuesday, following the shooting of a young man by the police on the same day.

Catholic priest Santon Tekege in Wagethe told The Jakarta Post via phone interview that the alleged shooting happened after four men allegedly intercepted a car to ask for Rp 10,000 from the driver. The four men, reportedly intoxicated, argued with the driver who refused to give the money. “The driver got out of his truck and chased the four men brandishing a dagger,” Tekege said.

The four men ran, so the driver returned to his car. But not long after, the four men came back, bringing more people and they smashed the car’s window. The driver ran to Tigi Police station for protection, and police officers later went to the location of the people who smashed the car window.

Tekege claimed the police shot at the crowd, hitting Elianus Dogopiai, 17, in his thigh.

He said the shooting led to unrest and Wagete residents went to Tigi Police station and set fire to the building. The residents then ran away.

The police chased them while shooting bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Later, police officers from other areas went to Wagete to help disperse the angry mob.

Tekege said the police shot multiple times and the residents claimed that one resident, Yulius Mote, 18, died during the shooting after the burning of the police station.

“They shot a young man named Yulius Mote, 18, in Kampung Idege in Wagethe 1, near the Bank Papua office,” Tekege said.

He said the victim was hit by a bullet from behind his head and the bullet went through his right eye. The victim died on the spot at 10 p.m. local time on Tuesday.

Tekege said the victim was buried in Kampung Okomokebo in Wagethe.

Papua Police spokesperson, Sr. Comr. Ahmad Mustofa Kamal told journalists on Wednesday that the report of Yulius Mote’s shooting was false information. “It’s not true. I can assure you, I have talked to the [Deiyai] Police chief,” said Kamal in Jayapura.

Kamal, however, confirmed the shooting of Elianus Dogopiai. The police said he was shot in his leg. Kamal claimed that Dogopiai was one of the four men who intercepted and threatened the driver for money. Kamal said Dogopiai also smashed the car.

John Gobay, a Papua legislative councillor and an indigenous people representative in Mepaggo indigenous territory which includes Deiyai regency, regretted the incident. He said the people in the territory could not feel safe in their own land.

“We have heard about the Oneibo case [in 2017], a Deiyai resident was shot by a rogue police officer. Now we have to hear a similar story again,” he said.

On Aug. 1, 2017, Yulianus Pigai, 28, died after being shot by the police. Besides Pigai, 12 others were injured in the shooting when police officers tried to disperse an angry mob that had destroyed the construction camp of a company that was building a bridge over the Oneibo River.

In September, a police ethics panel found four police personnel guilty of engaging in “improper conduct” while dispersing the angry mob. Papua Police chief at that time, Insp. Gen. Pol Boy Rafli Amar, stripped First. Insp. HM Raini of his position as Tigi Police chief following the fatal shooting.

Gobay said the two incidents proved that the police had yet to change their approach in dealing with civilians. He called the police method “brutal and repressive”.

Tekege said the police should have approached and talked to the young men instead of shooting them. (evi)

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