Civilian hostages being used as human shields: Human rights activist

Timika, Papua (ANTARA News) - An armed criminal group was deliberately using the over one thousand civilian hostages in Tembagapura, Mimika, Papua, as human shields in the fight against the state, National Human Rights Commissions (Komnas HAMs) Papua chapter revealed.

Frits Ramandey, head of the Papua human rights office, here, Friday, urged the armed group to allow access to food and medicine supplies needed by some 1,300 inhabitants of several kampongs being held hostage.

"We urge the armed civilian group to not use the residents as shields. They must also open access to humanitarian missions and services," Ramandey emphasized.

The Indonesian police and military as well as the Mimika district administration have provided food supplies to the hostages in an area near the Tembagapura police office, but the villagers were petrified to take the food for fear of the armed group.

"Those food supplies and other goods are being kept in Tembagapura, as there is no access to drop them to those kampongs. Once again, please open access (to these supplies) for the sake of humanity," he reiterated.

Ramandey claimed to have attempted to approach and communicate with the rebels, but to no avail, though several prominent traditional and religious figures had tried to help.

"We have made continuous efforts. Regardless of their vested interests, access must be opened. The civilian community must not be used as a shield. People have now continued to fall victims to this," he remarked.

He viewed the several recent incidents of fatal shootings targeting police officers as criminal actions.

"The Komnas HAM expresses its condolences over the demise of Police Officer Firman. What happened to the late Firman is a tragedy and crime, so law must be enforced," he affirmed.

Chief Brigadier Firman was shot dead during a shootout with members of the armed criminal group at Mile 69 in Tembagapura on Wednesday (Nov 15).

According to some reports, some 1,300 civilians are being intimidated and held at gunpoint in several villages surrounding Tembagapura.

Source: ANTARA News

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