ELSHAM reveals that acts of violence have increased in West Papua

Bintang Papua


The human rights organisation ELSHAM believes that the level of violence and conflict in West Papua has increased significantly since August last year. It reports a number of incidents when many lives were lost but the government. did not do anything in response.

ELSHAM spokesperson Paul Mambrasar said that these days, everywhere in Papua you can hear people saying 'Christmas means Peace' but, sad to say, this is no more than a slogan.

There have been so many killings, acts of intimidation while joint operations by the Indonesian army (TNI) and the police (Polri) continue to occur. There seems to be no end to the violation of human rights in Papua. He said: 'Papuan people are still being killed and intimidated and the security forces do so much to spread fear among the people.'

Operation Aman Matoa 1 in 2011 which was aimed at combating armed criminal gangs in Puncak Jaya, was carried out on the orders of the chief of police on 27 August 2011. During this operation, two Papuans were killed, SalmonYogi, 20 years old and Yustinus, 30 years old. Four people were injured during armed conflicts, Melkias Yeimo, 35, Yohanis Yogi, 25, Yulian Kudiai, 22 and Paskalis Kudiai, 21. There was damage to property during armed conflict in Eduda when 78 homes were torched by Satgas Ops; eight primary schools and 2 lower secondary schools were unable to function.. A number of churches were not able to hold religious services while a number of weapons such as knives, cleavers and arrows were confiscated.

As a result of people fleeing their homes, 37 people died including 13 infants, seven children and seventeen adults.

Communities in Komopa, Keneugida, Bibida, East Paniai and Kebo who fled their land suffered many losses because they were unable to tend their gardens and were compelled to kill a number of animals such as cows, pigs and chickens. After they returned to their kampungs, they were confronted with a serious lack of food. Members of Satgas Ops had removed their fences and used them as firewood.

The security forces are still continuing to commit acts of violence such as the following: (a) police assault against Persipura supporters at the Mandala Stadium on 13 May 2012 when 18 people were unable to breath
because tear gas bombs had been fired while 6 people were arrested.
An incident on 15 May 2012 when police opened fire in Degeuwo as a result of which one person died and three were injured.

An incident on 6 June 2012 when members of Battalion 756 fired on people in Honai Lama, Wamena as a result of which one person died and
14 people were seriously injured.

Arbitrary arrests by the police when ten people were taken into custody in Serui while they were celebrating the International Day for Indigenous People on 9 August 2012.

The dispersal of a KNPB demonstration in front of the Papuan State University campus on 23 October 2012 in Manokwari. Fifteen people were arrested by the police of whom nine were tortured and two suffered gunshot injuries.

There have also been a number of shootings by the police against pro-democracy activists who are members of the KNPB. Mako Tabuni, 34, was shot dead on 14 June 2012, clear evidence of the actions of the security forces against civilians. There was a similar action on 16 December 2012 when Hubertus Mabel, 30, chairman of KNPB in Baliem was shot dead.

In addition, there have been a number of killings by 'unidentified people' in 2011 and 2012.

During the period from 5 July to 6 September 2011, the security forces shot thirteen people and wounded at least 32 others, Meanwhile, during 2012, shootings by unidentified people have killed 35 people and traumatised two others.

There have been internal movements of people in Keerom from July to November 2012, something to which little attention has been paid by the government. ELSHAM in collaboration with the Keerom Catholic Church was able to help 38 people who had fled to return home and settle down.

The absence of any attention from the government to all these incidents suggests that West Papua is far from enjoying Special Autonomy but has become a 'Daerah Operasi Khusus' (Special Operations Area), very similar to what happened from 1970 - 2000. The perpetrators of all these acts of violence have enjoyed impunity; no one has been charged, tried and convicted .

The fact that Papua is closed to international humanitarian organisations, foreign journalists and outside investigators is what is justifying this marked increase in acts of violence by the security forces in Papua. Elite units such as the anti-terror Detachment 88 have spread terror among pro-democracy activisits in Papua, said Paul Mambrasar.

In view of the serious social and political circumstances experienced by the Papuan people, ELSHAM urges the government to allow access to international organisations and foreign journalists to enable them to investigate the human rights situation in Papua.

Secondly, the police should make public information about the mysterious shootings that have been occurring in Papua for a very long time.

Thirdly, the government and anti-government groups should enter into dialogue as the way to put an end to all the violence and conflict.

And fourthly, the army and police should respect the many universal principles of human rights which have been ratified by the government of the Republic of Indonesia.

[Slightly abridged translation by TAPOL]