9 Sep 2005

Papua secession campaigners scorn acquittal of Indonesian police officer

3:21 pm on 9 September 2005

Campaigners for the secession of Papua province have scorned the Indonesian authorities for acquitting a police officer of charges of human rights abuse.

Brigadier General Johny Wainal Usman was found not guilty of committing crimes against humanity in connection with the arbitrary arrests of dozens of Papuan residents in December 2000.

Suspected Free Papua Movement rebels attacked the police station in Abepura town, which is near the regional capital, Jayapura.

Police responded by launching a manhunt which left three Papuans dead, and about a hundred others arrested.

Andy Ayamiseba of the Vanuatu-based West Papua Congress says the acquittal gives members of the Indonesian security forces in Papua, the go-ahead to hunt and kill Papuans.

"The reality is people have been killed. If you plainly look at the verdict there are no justice. People got killed, and the murderers has been freed from any judgment."

Mr Ayamiseba says the verdict affirms the perception that Indonesian forces are acting with impunity.

He backs a recent call from a European MP for the United Nations to send in peacekeepers to oversee a fresh referendum on Papuan independence.