Indonesia rights commission calls for probe into Papua deaths

JAKARTA (AFP) – Indonesia’s hu-man rights commission called for a probe into scores of deaths in Papua on Friday after some of the deadliest violence in years swept the restive region.

Dozens were killed when riots broke out in Wamena city last month, with some victims burned alive when buildings were set ablaze, and others stabbed in the chaos.

Since mid-August, Papua has been hit by waves of mass protests and violence fuelled by racism against indigenous Papuans as well as calls for self-rule in the impoverished region.

On Friday, Indonesia’s Natio-nal Commission on Human Rights (Komnas) called for a full investigation into the wave of fatalities, saying that the death toll had hit 43 in Wamena – up from an earlier 33 dead – including some victims who had been shot.

Separately, officials from the agency also said at least a dozen people had died from gunshots or illness in another part of the region after tens of thousands of Papuans were displaced by fighting between Indonesia’s military and independence-seeking rebels.

“The police must probe all these deaths,” Konmas Chairman Ahmad Taufan Damanik told reporters in Jakarta on Friday.

“Even if some of the alleged perpetrators are from the security forces they must also be investigated,” he added. Deputy Chairman of the Rights Agency Beka Ulung Hapsara called on Indonesia’s government to solve the crisis in Papua.

People react as a building burns after fresh protests broke out in Wamena. PHOTO: AFP