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Home » , , , , , , » Kontras Accuses Police of Conflict of Interest in Papua

Kontras Accuses Police of Conflict of Interest in Papua

Written By Voice Of Baptist Papua on October 29, 2011 | 5:44 AM

Rights activists announced on Friday that an investigation has led them to believe that police have involved themselves too deeply in labor disputes at the Freeport mine in Papua and tended to take the company’s side.

The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) said it found that senior police had threatened a labor organizer from the All-Indonesian Workers Trade Union (SPSI).

It said Sudiro, SPSI’s chief workplace organizer for Freeport’s Grasberg mine, had reported that Timika Police Chief Denny Siregar called him and made a death threat. Sudiro also said Papua Police chief Bikman L. Tobing had harassed him with insulting language.

According to Kontras, such aggressive language and threats constituted violence against the unionist.

“From the testimonies collected by Kontras [in Timika] on the sidelines of negotiations between workers and Freeport, the police chief pressured the SPSI leader to comply with the company’s wishes so that he did not become ‘tiresome’ to police,” Kontras investigator Haris Azhar said on Friday.

Police, according to Haris, had also leveled accusations of treason at striking workers and their union organizers.

“All they did was make demands for their improved welfare. How can the police accuse them of being separatists? It makes no sense,” Haris said.

Kontras’ report said the presumed reason for the police taking the gold and copper mining company’s side was Freeport’s documented direct payments to police officers based in the area.

He said the flood of money to police had created a conflict of interest when its people, nominally public servants, handled cases related to the company.

“When there’s a problem between Freeport and their workers, of course they choose to support Freeport,” he said.

National Police chief Timur Pradopo admitted on Friday that officers had received close to $10 million annually from Freeport, but he explained it away as “lunch money.”

Haris dismissed that, saying the receipt of money from the US-based company had severely damaged the police’s credibility.

“If the police chief thinks of it as extras, then what are his wages for?” he asked.

Haris said Kontras would report its findings to the Coordinating Minister for Politics and Security and the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

“As far as I know, whether within the police law, the army law or the budget law, public servants should be paid only out of the state budget,” he said.

Separately, Human Rights Watch on Friday called for an independent investigation into the deaths of protesters in Jayapura on Oct. 19.

“Papuans peacefully calling for independence does not justify a deadly crackdown,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “President Yudhoyono has an opportunity to show Papuans that he’s concerned about their rights.”

“Police and military personnel have also been the victims of violence in Papua,” Pearson said, referring to Monday’s shooting of Mulia Police chief Dominggus Oktavianus Awes in Puncak Jaya.

“But police investigations have been woefully inadequate, and there is a need for independent investigations into this escalating violence.”
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