Bima protesters shot from close range

While the National Police admitted on Tuesday that the two protesters who died in the Bima riot were shot at a point-blank range, Law and Human Rights Minister Amir Samsuddin insisted that no human rights violation had taken place.

Amir said that a conclusion on whether human rights violations had occurred in Bima, West Nusa Tenggara could only be made after the authority had wrapped up its investigation of the clash, which occurred between police personnel and locals protesting against mining company PT Sumber Mineral Nusantara (SMN).

“Please don’t be swift in passing judgement on whether a gross violation of human rights took place. There could have been a violation in the standard operating procedure. Let’s wait to find out what really happened,” Amir told reporters on Tuesday.

Amir said that he could understand if the police had exhausted all other means of dealing with the protestors. “They may have done it for the greater good. In certain situations, where the public interest must be defended and where the chain of distribution can be disrupted, the public and the media should understand this,” he said.

When asked by reporters about his comments on the alleged mass killing in Mesuji, Lampung, Amir indicated that human rights were not his strongest point. “I should not talk about human rights. They are something that I’m not good at,” Amir told journalists at the House of Representatives.

Separately, the National Police said that authorities in Bima had finished performing autopsies on the bodies of Arif Rachman, 18, and Syaiful, 17. Both students who died in the protest.

The National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Saud Usman Nasution said that no bullets were found in the bodies of the two victims.

“This means that they were shot from close range,” Saud told reporters at the National Police Headquarters in South Jakarta on Tuesday.

Saud said that the gunshot wounds were found on the right waists of both victims.

He also insisted that so far, there were only two recorded victims in the incident. Saud also said that an investigating team was now compiling a list of police officers in charge of security posts in the vicinity of the protest site to establish whether they were involved in the shooting.

Komnas HAM raised the number of dead victims to three. The third casualty, Arifuddin A. Rahman, reportedly died in hospital soon after the clash.

The National Police sent its own investigation team to Bima on Monday.

Last Saturday, hundreds of people from the People’s Front Against Mining (FRAT) confronted the authorities, blocking the road to the nearby port and calling for Bima Regent Ferry Zulkarnaen to revoke SMN’s permit, citing environmental concerns. On Tuesday, protest leader Delian Lubis said that both the protesters and the West Nusa Tenggara Police had made a deal in relation to staging a peaceful protest on the day.

“In a negotiation on Friday night, we made an agreement in which the West Nusa Tenggara Police chief, Brig. Gen. Arif Wachyunadi, agreed to sign a petition demanding the revocation of the permit. We agreed to tell the protestors. But in the morning we were confronted with members of the Mobile Brigade and the police personnel who then started shooting at us,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Mining Association (IMA) agreed that the government should revoke mining permits for companies that violated the law and threatened the livelihoods of local people.

Syahrir A.B., an executive director of the IMA, said on Tuesday that the 2009 Law on Minerals and Coal had several principles that guaranteed protection for the environment, sustainability of resources, maintenance of state revenues and protection for the lives of local people.

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