While police are saying that three protesters were killed in Saturday’s shooting at Sape port in West Nusa Tenggara, a human rights organization claims the number killed by authorities may be as high as 12.
“The exact number of casualties has not been confirmed, but from numbers of reports from family members, it is predicted that there have been 12 casualties so far,” Wahijin, an activist with human rights organization Serita Tani, said on Monday.
“Three casualty reports came from the police, but the truth is there are more than that,” Wahijin said.
“The three victims reported by the police were the ones who died at the hospital, but other victims may not have had a chance to be brought to the hospital. According to some reports they suffered severe bleeding and died in their homes.”
Wahijin added that some of the victims had refused to go to the hospital because they feared they would be arrested there by police.
“If they went to the hospital, they were afraid that they would be turned into suspects like the other 56 people who have been detained by the police.”
Three “provocateurs” were arrested along with 53 others, including six children, for questioning. Police said they confiscated 10 machetes, four sickles, one spear and several fuel bombs from the protestors.
According to Serita Tani, there are likely 12 dead and 10 severely wounded after Saturday’s crackdown at an anti-mining protest in Bima district on Sumbawa.
On Monday, the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor said the deadly shooting of protesters by police at Sape port was proof of a government that was all-too-willing to allow the use of violence to quell unrest.
“Impunity for authorities will allow violence to reoccur because there’s no deterrent effect for the authorities,” said Al-Araf, program director of the human rights group known as Imparsial.
Imparsial has declared the shootings a violation of human rights. The organization is calling for the officers involved to punished.
Two villages near the port in Bima, Desa Lambu and Desa Soro, have been sealed off by district authorities to prevent any further protests or violence.
Also on Monday, hundreds of demonstrators gathered at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Jakarta to show their support and solidarity with the Bima protesters.
“We demand the president dismiss [the National Police] chief and Nusa Tenggara Barat Police chief. We also condemn the incident that happened in Bima,” said Jaya, one of the protesters.
Previously, National Police assistant for operations Insp. Gen. Badrodin Haiti justified the shooting, saying the protesters were armed with machetes, spears and knives.
“If a protest clearly runs against the law by trying to enforce a wish, should it be allowed to happen?” Badrodin said, adding that the port was crucial to the local economy. “We tried to persuade them [to disband] but failed. I am not blaming the personnel in the field.”
He insisted the shots had not been aimed to kill. “The personnel, of course, never had the intention to kill anyone,” he said.