INDONESIA: Police indiscriminately shoot civilians in Nabire, injuring three Papuans

According to the information the Asian Human Rights Commission has received from an activist of KINGMI (Gospel Tabernacle Church) Papua, a group of civilians visited the headquarters of the Mobile Brigade of Moanemani Sub-District Police at 10 a.m. on 6 May 2014. They demanded the police to hand over a truck driver who was responsible for a traffic accident in which two villagers were killed earlier in the morning of the same day. The truck driver went into hiding at the police station for his safety.

As the police refused to hand over the truck driver to them, a group of civilians – amongst them were families of the traffic accident victims – started throwing stones on the police station. The police responded to the attack by opening fire at the civilians, which resulted in the injury of three of them. Yulius Anouw (27) was shot in his chest; Gayus Auwe (32) was shot in his abdomen and right thigh, whereas Anton Edoway (28) was shot on his left thigh. A reverend who was present during the shootings recalled that it was not only ‘one or two shots’ but more like rain of bullets.

The three injured victims were taken to Nabire Public Hospital for medical treatment. According to the latest information received by the AHRC, Yulius Anouw and Anton Edowai have undergone surgery but are still unconscious. Gayus Auwe is still receiving medical treatment at the public hospital but has not undergone surgery yet.


The shootings have been confirmed by the Chief of Papua Regional Police, Tito Karnavian. To the Jakarta Globe, Karnavian claimed that the shooting was inevitable “because the mob had started to get out of control”. The Chief of Police also claimed that his officers had previously released warning shots before shooting at the civilians, but this version of story was refuted by the witnesses.

Under international law, the use of lethal weapons by law enforcement officials is subjected to the strict tests of necessity and proportionality. The proportionality test requires law enforcement officials, such as the police, to only use lethal weapons if it is required to protect life. The necessity test, in the other hand, requires the officials to only use lethal weapons when there is no other means – such as capture or nonlethal incapacitation – of preventing such threat to life (Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, A/HRC/14/124, 20 May 2010, para. 32)

Provisions regarding the lethal use of firearms can be found, among others, in Article 9 of the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. In the same UN document, the government is also mandated to establish effective reporting and review procedures for the use of lethal weapons by law enforcement officials. Such establishment is yet to exist in Indonesia, which means the police claim on the necessity and proportionality of their use of lethal weapons cannot be challenged by anybody.