Military Continues Crackdown in Indonesian Papua

Military Continues Crackdown in Indonesian Papua
Jakarta Globe, 2 December 2010

By: Nivell Rayda & Banjir Ambarita


At least one person has been reportedly killed in raids in Papua as the military steps up its search for members of the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM), which marked its 45th anniversary on Wednesday.

Markus Haluk, a member of the Papuan Customary Council (DAP), the largest nongovernmental organization in Papua and West Papua, told the Jakarta Globe on Thursday that Wendiman Wenda, a 55-year-old farmer, was killed outside his house.

He said that Wendiman was shot while working in his garden in Yambi village, Puncak Jaya district, on Sunday, shortly after returning from church.

“The military was patrolling the area and assumed he was an OPM member,” he said. “Wendiman was not a separatist. He was just a farmer.”

A neighbor, Piron Moribnak, said the soldiers had shot Wendiman from a distance.

“They called out to him, but he was hard of hearing and they were a ways off, so of course he didn’t hear them and he didn’t respond,” he said. “That’s when they opened fire.”

Neither the Puncak Jaya Police nor military officials in Papua could be reached for comment.

In Wamena district, the West Papua Media Alerts Web site reported that two people had been killed in a similar raid there on Thursday. However, Markus said the two had survived but were in critical condition.

“We’re still trying to gather more information on the two incidents because both areas are so remote,” he said.

The two men reportedly shot in Wamena have been identified as Asili Wenda and Elius Tabuni.

Lemok Mabel, chairman of the DAP’s Baliem Valley chapter in Wamena, said neither man was an OPM member or sympathizer.

Adj. Sr. Comr. I Gede Sumek Jaya, chief of the Jayawijaya subprecinct police in Wamena, denied there had been a shooting in the area on Thursday.

Puncak Jaya and Wamena districts, believed to be hotbeds of support for OPM leader Goliat Tabuni, have seen intensified military operations in recent years, resulting in numerous reports of alleged human rights abuses against civilians.

Military operations in Papua have come under close international scrutiny this year after a video showing soldiers torturing two civilians in Puncak Jaya was posted on the Internet.

The video was recorded on the cellphone of one of the soldiers and was taken on May 30.

Indria Fernida, deputy chairwoman of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), said the abuses would only stop once the government repealed its ban on the Morning Star and Benang Raja flags, used by separatist groups in Papua and Maluku, respectively.

“The ban has been abused by the military to justify the killing and torture of civilians,” she told the Globe.

“It also inhibits freedom of expression because both flags have significant cultural meaning for the locals. The government must address the core problem and seek political means to resolve the turmoil, and not see everything as a security issue and stigmatize Papuans as separatists.”

Poengky Indarti, executive director of the human rights group Imparsial, said the military had shown no indication that it would abide by the UN Convention Against Torture, which Indonesia has ratified.

“The only way for human rights violation to stop is for the government to enact an amendment to the military tribunal law,” she told the Globe.

The proposed amendment stipulates that all soldiers involved in criminal acts would be tried in civilian courts, while military tribunals would be reserved for acts of insubordination or administrative violations.