Fifty Indonesian police officers have received special commendations from the National Police Headquarters for killing the Papuan independence leader, Kelly Kwalik, last month.
One month before the commendations, the Indonesian police shot Kelly Kwalik in the thigh on December 16, 2009, and he died shortly after. The exact circumstances of his death remain unclear.
According to Survival, Survival, the Indonesian military and police have a long history of extra-judicial killings, arrest and torture of those suspected of supporting West Papua's independence movement.
Despite having been involved in rebel activities with the Free Papua Movement (OPM) in the past, Kwalik had for many years renounced violence and had committed to seeking independence by peaceful means. Only weeks before his death he met with senior Indonesian security officials, at their request. Many Papuans suspect that he may have been lured into a trap by the promise of another such meeting.
Police have defended his killing by claiming that Kwalik was involved in the 2002 ambush of a convoy of buses that killed three teachers near the huge US-owned Grasberg copper and gold mine. They also said they believed he was behind a number of attacks in the mine area last year which had left eight people dead. However, the police at the time of both the 2002 and more recent killings had rejected the suggestion of OPM involvement.