Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Baby Merlina is only two years old. She died instantly in her wooden hut.
Her mother Amelia Biagaimo, 24, was devastated.
The police chief in Merauke said, “It was a musibah.”
An intel, riding a motorcycle with a white helmet, kept on following them. He rode with them, stopped with them and later returned to the neighborhood with them. And then he left.
Merauke has a heavy Indonesian military presence: Korem, Kodim, Kostrad, TNI-AL, Kopassus, Polres, Brimob etc. They have more than 2,000 members. Each force has its respective intel members.
Some witnesses told me that those officers, waiting outside the Merauke police station, included members of the Special Forces or Kopassus. I am not sure what they’re doing. These angry parents and the shooting of a baby is not a military affairs.
Merlina Tanggipaimu’s house is the Transito area, near Gudang Arang, Merauke.
Baby Merlina was just getting up from her sleep on Sunday morning. She went to the toilet, outside the wooden hut, and returned to the hut when a bullet pierced into her head.
Neighbors visited her house Sunday morning, about one hour after her tragic death. Not a single Jakarta media published the story. Papua is not a human story in Jakarta. Papua is just a story of separatism, primitive people with penis gourd and an area of our “beloved homeland.”
Mother Ameliana and father Frangky Tanggipaimu heard some shots near their house that morning around 6am. I was jogging near this neighborhood when two men told me about the shooting. I am not familiar with this neighborhood. But I kept on monitoring their protest.
Mandala is the name of the Indonesian military operation to take over Papua in 1962. Major Benny Moerdani later wrote in his biography Profile of a Soldier Statesman about the Naga operation, a smaller part of the Mandala operation. There is a Moerdani statue in Merauke. The street is named after the 1962 operation.
Commissionaire Joko Priyadi, a high ranking police officer, faced the grandparents and the mother. He repeatedly said that the stray bullet was a “musibah, musibah, musibah.” The word “musibah” is a word familiar to the Papuans. The Tanggipaimu family demanded an investigation into the shooting. Joko said it needs to have the lethal bullet to examine whether it really comes from the police. Like most police officers in Papua, Joko comes from Java Island. Most of them do not understand local cultures in Papua. Papuans also face daily discrimination from the Indonesian officialdom. Some Papuan intellectuals write about high rates of death among Papuan mothers and children due to poor health services. Baby Mei is another victim of this negligence. Musibah. Musibah. Musibah.
In a bid to make sure that the bullet comes from the police, the family brought the baby to a Merauke hospital. It is already Sunday noon. The hospital obviously cannot find the bullet. It penetrated her head. Now without the bullet that killed the baby, the police claimed it will be difficult to investigate the killing. Officially they promised that they will investigate the killing. But accountability is a big question mark in Merauke. This is the same police station which denied various beatings conducted by Indonesian soldiers against Papuan youth.