4 Sep 2017

Fatal shooting a military response to Papua fishing dispute

1:12 pm on 4 September 2017

An investigation into a fatal incident on Papua's south coast last month found an Indonesian military officer used gunfire to respond to a melee in a fishing dispute.

The incident on 9 August left one West Papuan dead and three other people injured, according to an investigative report by the Timika Diocese Justice and Peace Secretariat.

Port Pomako, Papua Province, Indonesia.

Port Pomako, Papua Province, Indonesia. Photo: Google Maps

Tensions had been brewing in Mimika regency's Port Pomako over a dispute between indigenous fishermen and better-equipped migrants from other parts of Indonesia who were dominating the catch.

In the months leading up to the incident, indigenous fishermen made representations to local authorities on their grievances, and talks had been held on finding a solution in the form of a permit-based system.

However, indigenous fishermen had been excluded from the latest talks and raised issue when a group of migrant fisherman returned to fishing despite the matter being unresolved.

Some of the migrants' boats were apprehended by the indigenous group before the matter ended up in discussions outside the local police station.

According to the Timika Diocese report, a melee broke out when one of the migrant fishers' leaders, a municipal policeman, assaulted one of the indigenous people.

In response to the fracas, a member of the intelligence unit of Military Command, Chief Brigadier Yusuf Salasar, began shooting from the police post.

A Papuan, Theodorus Camtar, was fatally shot and two other citizens were injured by the gunfire.

The indigenous fishermen became angry and searched for the shooter. As they did so, facilities both inside and outside the police post were destroyed.

Another member of the military intelligence unit was stabbed.

The marker is placed on Pomako Port of Mimika regency, Indonesia.

The marker is placed on Pomako Port of Mimika regency, Indonesia. Photo: Google Maps

When the situation was finally brought under control, police evacuated Theodorus Camtar's body and the other victims to the Mimika General Regional Hospital.

The newspaper Tabloid Jubi reported last month that the head of the local Cendrawasih Military Command, George Elnadus Supit, subsequently apologised to the families of victims in the incident.