Komnas HAM gathers information regarding Sinakma incident

News Desk – Child Abduction Issue 

11 March 2023

Wamena, Jubi – The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and its Papua representative office has sent a team to investigate the incident in Wamena’s Sinakma, Jayawijaya Regency on February 23, 2023.

Head of Komnas HAM Papua Frits Ramandey said that his party had started working the day after the incident but the investigation process had only been carried out on March 6, 2023.

According to him, a number of parties have been questioned, including seven injured civilians and two sales people who were suspected of trying to kidnap children in Sinakma.

“We have asked seven injured witnesses. Today we are also listening to testimony from members of the Jayawijaya Regional Police,” Ramandey said when met at Jayawijaya Regional Police on Wednesday, March 8, 2023.

The team has also visited Koramil to hear testimony from the commander of 1702/Jayawijaya and some of its members. The team also questioned the director of Wamena Hospital, as well as seeing victims who were currently in the hospital.

“We have not been able to question the victims who are still in the hospital because people who are sick cannot be questioned. But we have seen them. We have also coordinated with our partners in Wamena,” he said.

So far, Komnas HAM found a number of buildings were burned and some people were injured. However, Ramandey could not tell the figure, as well as the kind of injuries experienced and what caused the injuries.

“We will also question the families of the dead victims, both indigenous Papuans and non-Papuans,” said Ramandey.

Previously, the riots in Sinakma was triggered by allegation of children abduction. Komnas HAM has focused on questioning the girl who was about to be abducted.

Komnas HAM appreciated all parties who had supported the investigation process. He said the community had an awareness to provide information when being questioned.

“The people in Wamena actively support us. The local governments of Lanny Jaya, Jayawijaya, Yahukimo, Nduga and the provincial government of Mountainous Papua as well,” he said.

Usman Hamid emphasized his party would hold an investigation to ensure the chronology, causes and victims. The investigation, he said, must rely on data and facts.

“Hopefully, in two weeks we can announce the results of our findings and the recommendations to expedite the law enforcement process. We thank the commander of XVII/Cenderawasih, the Papua Police chief, and community leaders who have supported the investigation process that we are currently working on,” he said.(*)


President Wenda: West Papua victim of new humanitarian crisis 

March 10, 2023 in Statement 

The Indonesian state is causing a renewed humanitarian crisis in occupied West Papua. A 35-year-old woman has been murdered and mutilated by the Indonesian military in Puncak Regency, and villages and churches have been emptied as thousands more soldiers have been deployed in the area. Indonesia must urgently draw back their troops to allow civilians to return home in peace. 

The murdered woman, Ms Tarina Murib, was found by local residents on March 4th. She was naked and her head was cut off and missing. A number of civilians, including a baby, were also shot during the military raid. A bullet hit one-year-old Aniton Kulua in the head, while his mother Daisina Alom was shot in the shoulder. 

My people are terrified and traumatised by years of military operations. Fearing more violence, many have been forced to leave their homes and flee into the bush, adding to the 60,000-100,000 West Papuans who have been displaced by Indonesian military buildup since 2018. Those displaced have largely been unable to return home due to soldiers’ continued occupation of their villages, churches, and schools. They have little access to healthcare. They cannot tend their crops or gardens. Displacement is ethnic cleansing, the gradual eradication of the West Papuan way of life. As the Indonesian occupation forces my people to flee, they exploit their ancestral lands to build mega-projects like the Trans Papua Highway and the Wabu Block gold mine. 

The situation in West Papua is escalating dramatically due to Indonesia’s response to the TPNPB’s abduction of pilot Phillip Mehrtens. Indonesian troops have already massacred ten indigenous Papuan civilians in Wamena. Now, they have committed crimes against humanity in Puncak. I have stated clearly that Mr. Mehrtens must be immediately and unconditionally released, and the ULMWP are working in the background with local people to try and secure his safe return. But the world must understand that he is being used as propaganda by Indonesia to strengthen their military control over West Papua.  

Tarina Murib’s brutal murder is reminiscient of the four West Papuans that were tortured, murdered, and dismembered by Indonesian soldiers last August. But Murib was not a combatant, not even a male: she was a mother. Indonesia is clearly demonstrating the brutal and racist character of their occupation.  

The abduction of pilot Phillip Mehrtens has focused the attention of the international community on West Papua. They must not look away now, as we are massacred, mutilated, and displaced by Indonesia’s genocidal occupation.  

Benny Wenda
ULMWP Provisional Government 

Papuan separatists attack another civilian aircraft: Police 

Agats, Papua (ANTARA) – A Trigana Air plane was shot at by members of an armed Papuan separatist group on Saturday, according to Jayapura Police chief, Adjunct Senior Commissioner Fredrickus W.A. Maclarimboen.

The shooting occurred shortly after the plane took off from Dekai Airport in Yahukimo district, Papua Pegunungan province, Maclarimboen told ANTARA.

He, however, did not provide any details on the impact of the shooting on the aircraft.

ANTARA has reported earlier that over the past few years, armed Papuan groups have often employed hit-and-run tactics against Indonesian security personnel and mounted acts of terror against civilians in the districts of Intan Jaya, Nduga, and Puncak to trigger fear among the people.

The targets of such acts of terror have included construction workers, motorcycle taxi (ojek) drivers, teachers, students, street food vendors, and also civilian aircraft.

On December 2, 2018, a group of armed Papuan rebels brutally killed 31 workers from PT Istaka Karya who were engaged in the Trans Papua project in Kali Yigi and Kali Aurak in Yigi sub-district, Nduga district.

The same day, armed attackers also killed a soldier, identified as Handoko, and injured two other security personnel, Sugeng and Wahyu.

Such acts of violence continued to occur in 2021, 2022, and 2023.

On January 6, 2021, at least 10 armed separatists vandalized and torched a Quest Kodiak aircraft belonging to Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) on the Pagamba village airstrip.

On February 8, 2021, a 32-year-old man was shot at close range in Bilogai village, Sugapa sub-district.

The victim, identified by his initials as RNR, sustained gunshot wounds on the face and right shoulder and was taken to Timika Public Hospital in Mimika district on February 9.

In a separate incident on February 9, a motorcycle taxi (ojek) driver was fatally stabbed by 6 armed Papuans.

On April 8, 2021, several armed Papuan separatists opened fire at a kiosk in Julukoma village, Beoga sub-district, Puncak district.

The shooting resulted in the death of a Beoga public elementary school teacher, identified as Oktovianus Rayo.

After killing Rayo, the armed attackers torched 3 classrooms at Beoga public senior high school.

On April 9, 2021, armed separatists fatally shot another teacher, Yonatan Randen, in the chest.

On April 25, 2021, Papuan separatists operating in Beoga ambushed State Intelligence Agency (Papua) chief, I Gusti Putu Danny Karya Nugraha, and several security personnel during their visit to Dambet village.

On March 2, 2022, several members of an armed Papuan group operating in Beoga sub-district, Puncak district, killed 8 Palaparing Timur Telematika (PTT) workers, who were repairing a base transceiver station (BTS) tower belonging to state-owned telecommunications operator Telkomsel.

The workers were identified as B, R, BN, BT, J, E, S, and PD, while another worker, identified by his initials as NS, survived the deadly assault, according to Papua Police spokesperson, Senior Commissioner Ahmad Kamal.

This year, a group of armed Papuan separatists attacked a civilian aircraft owned by Susi Air on February 7.

They burned the plane at Paro Airfield, Nduga district, and captured its pilot, Captain Philip Mark Marthens, according to the National Police’s (Polri’s) public relations division head, Inspector General Dedi Prasetyo.

Women’s quota in political parties gives hope to Papuan women  

News Desk – Women’s Political Participation 

9 March 2023

Jayapura, Jubi – Indonesia is approaching the election period. Political parties begin to compete and win people’s votes. One of the requirements for registering election participants is the fulfillment of the 30 percent quota for women as stipulated in the Election Law and technical regulations of the General Election Commission (KPU).

KPU Papua commissioner Sandra Mambrasar said such a rule provided opportunities for women to advance to the legislative council, both at the central and regional levels.

“Women lawmakers can voice a lot of concerns from women’s health and reproduction, violence against women, and economic empowerment. Now it’s up to the women, whether or not they want to be directly involved. It’s a matter of readiness and confidence,” said Mambrasar in a talk show titled “Measuring the Political Participation of Papuan Women After Provincial Expansion and Ahead of the 2024 Election” at Jubi TV Studio in Waena, Jayapura City on Wednesday, March 8, 2023.

Mambrasar encouraged Papuan women while setting herself as an example. As one of the KPU commissioners, she previously had no experience in bureaucracy or politics. With her experience as an activist, she braced herself and took the role as KPU commissioner.

“So far, the involvement and interest of women in politics, especially Indigenous Papuan women, is still very minimal,” she said.

Representative of the West Papua Women’s Forum Ester Haluk also said the quota for women should be embraced. “Because there are many things that can be done for women when there is women representation in parliamentary seats, both at the center and the regions,” said Ester Haluk.

“We hope that Papuan women who have managed to be party organizers and legislators can open space for political education, and make use of their privileges well,” she added.

Women’s representation, she said, would make a huge difference amid Papua’s problems such as the wave of displaced people, Papuans losing economic competition with outsiders, discrimination, domestic violence, human rights violations, military violence, and many others.

“The humanity crisis that is occurring in Papua, violence that creates displaced people on a large scale today, has turned women and children the most vulnerable victims. We hope that women representatives can speak a lot about this, and the quota available for women in politics at this time can be utilized to get involved and voice things that are important to women,” she said. (*)


Interim President: A new massacre in West Papua 

February 25, 2023 in Statement

I am heartbroken to hear that nine West Papuans have been murdered by Indonesian security forces after unrest in Wamena, my hometown. The shootings occurred following the abduction of a Papuan child, which saw conflict break out between the community and colonial forces. Apart from the nine dead, seventeen others have been shot. On behalf of the ULMWP Executive, I offer my deepest condolences to the families of the victims, and am praying for the speedy recovery of the wounded. 

This is only the latest in a long line of Indonesian massacres in West Papua. After Bloody Paniai in 2014, Bloody Abepura in 2000, and Bloody Wamena in 2003, we have now seen a new ‘Bloody Wamena’ in 2023. When will the world say ‘enough’? Where are the Pacific and Melanesian leaders? Over 500,000 of us have been killed since they invaded our lands. We are victims of a genocide. The story of Indonesian rule over West Papua is told in the blood of its indigenous people. 

Words of condemnation are not enough. Without real action, Indonesia will continue to act with total impunity in West Papua. They have demonstrated over and over that we are not safe under their rule. The world must intervene: we urgently need the visit of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as Indonesia vowed to facilitate in 2018.

This is not just my demand, but the demand of over 80 states, including the members of the Pacific Islands Forum, the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States, Spain, Netherlands, and the EU Commission. If Indonesia continues to employ delaying tactics, the international community must compel them to allow the UN in. There can be no more excuses. 

The only way to stop this bloodshed is to for Indonesia withdraw their troops and end their brutal occupation. So-called ‘Special Autonomy’ has only brought more killing. What kind of autonomy do we have if Indonesian soldiers can murder children in Paniai, only for Indonesian courts to acquit them eight years later? The only real autonomy that exists is the autonomy of Indonesian soldiers to murder us in cold blood. The only real justice will come through liberation. 

The details of the known dead are as follows:  

  • Albert Sitorus, 26, male, Batak tribe (Machete wound in back of the head, arrow wound in back).
  • Stepanus Wenda, male (Village Head) in the Kelokbeam district, Lani Jaya district, gunshot to stomach.
  • Alfredo Elopete, male, gunshot wound to the neck.
  • Korwa Wanimbo, male, gunshot wound to back.
  • Tinus Yelipele, gunshot wound to right thigh.`
  • Temias Pokneagge, male.
  • Vicky Kogoya, gunshot wound to armpit.

Benny Wenda
Interim President
ULMWP Provisional Government 

Killing Us as if We Were Animals’: 12 Dead After Police Open Fire on Civilians

The incident is the latest in a string of violence from Indonesia’s disputed Papua province, where a conflict has been raging for decades.

27 February 2023, 11:51pm

The slaughter commenced after what appeared to be the most benign of acts: a six-year-old girl trying to buy a bottle of olive oil.

On Feb. 23, the indigenous Papuan girl, who lives in the Wamena highlands of Papua, a restive province of Indonesia, was reportedly almost kidnapped when two roving grocery salesmen urged her to get into their car when she tried to buy the oil. She refused and ran away screaming for her family. Once her relatives heard what happened, they got on their motorbikes and chased the two men down. 

When they reached them, a confrontation ensued and a large crowd amassed. The accused kidnappers were migrants from elsewhere in Indonesia, while the crowd were mostly indigenous Papuans. More than a dozen police appeared, some carrying assault rifles. The authorities asked the girl to recount what happened as she stood barefoot in the dirt, fidgeting and appearing fearful under the expectant gaze of the mob. 

Police attempted to defuse the situation by telling the crowd there was no kidnapping threat, but the group became increasingly agitated. 

“All of the people there were in a traumatic state and filled with fear,” Theo Hesegem, the director of local rights group the Papua Justice and Human Integrity Foundation, who also witnessed events that day, told VICE World News. “The situation got harder to control.

In a video viewed by VICE World News, the murmurs of the crowd grew to a collective shout before a Papuan man lunged at one of the alleged kidnappers. The crowd surged forward, and soon after, locals started throwing stones and burning the homes of the alleged kidnappers and shops thought to belong to non-Papuan Indonesians. 

Responding to the violence, witnesses say Indonesian security forces sprayed tear gas at the rioters while footage shows smoke from the burning buildings darkening the sky. Yet the police reaction only sparked further anger. The melee then shifted to the sound of live gunfire cracking through the crowd. Bodies began falling.

By the end of the incident, the two suspected kidnappers were stabbed to death and 10 indigenous Papuans were killed, their bodies riddled with bullets from security forces. Another 20 Wamena residents were injured in the attack. 

“I suspect this was a targeted shooting as they hit vital areas,” Hesegem said. The Indonesian Mobile Brigade Corps—a paramilitary police force known as Brimob—began shooting “continuously,” he added.  

“A number of people were shot in the neck, head, chest, back, as well as the thigh. Those were targeted shootings that resulted in death on the spot,” Hesegem said.

West Papua was incorporated into Indonesia after a controversial UN-sanctioned ballot in 1969, which was subsequently labeled a sham. Papuan separatists have waged an independence fight ever since, with Indonesian security forces leaving a long and well-documented record of human rights abuses against civilians and suspected fighters in their attempts to suppress the movement. Estimates for the number killed since the Indonesian takeover range from 100,000 to 500,000, in what has been described as a “slow-motion genocide.” 

Papuan rights activists say the militarized presence has led to a “shoot first, ask questions later” mindset at the sign of any conflict. It’s a sentiment shared by a relative of one of last week’s victims. 

Inggi Kogoya was inside his home when he first heard the gunshots ring out on Thursday. Flustered from the sudden sound of shooting, the 23-year-old ran outside to see what was happening. As soon as he exited his house he saw his older brother, Mian Karunggu, on the ground with a bullet wound in his chest.

“All they [Papuans] had was rocks in their hand to try to defend themselves, but it was the police and soldiers who started to shoot brutally at the people… It was a battle between rocks and weapons.”

Moments earlier his brother had been trying to protect the street by building a makeshift barricade, an instinctive act following years of living in conflict zones. Karunggu had fled to Wamena in 2018 to escape fighting in nearby Nduga regency, an area torn by clashes between Papuan separatist rebels and occupying Indonesian security forces. He was just one of tens of thousands displaced by the continuing conflict and made efforts to avoid the violence. 

But a bullet found him anyway. “He fell straight away,” Kogoya told VICE World News. 

“All they [Papuans] had was rocks in their hand to try to defend themselves, but it was the police and soldiers who started to shoot brutally at the people… It was a battle between rocks and weapons.”

Kogoya said his brother was rushed to a nearby hospital. It was too late. Gripping the side of a stretcher and clenching his teeth from the pain as one of Karunggu’s daughters stood over him, crying, he died from his wounds.  

A quiet cattle farmer who had not been a part of the mob, according to his brother, the 30-year-old Karunggu left behind an infant girl and nine other children. 

Karunggu’s coffin, along with eight others adorned with crosses, was lowered into the dirt of a local cemetery on Saturday as dozens of men squatted around the fresh graves beneath an overcast sky. The community remains mournful and traumatized, Kogoya said, though he has accepted his brother’s death as murder by security forces had become “normal” in his community.

“We leave all of this to God’s plan and may he punish the evil deeds,” Kogoya said.

“We are constantly living in trauma because they [Indonesian security forces] are around us and killing us as if we were animals,” Kogoya added. “As long as we’re living in Indonesia we will never have freedom as a Papua people. This massacre is not the first time. We feel anxious living our everyday lives.”

The deadly clash is the latest in a recent spate of incidents in Papua province. 

According to experts, armed rebel groups in the region have become more dangerous than ever as they have adapted and modernized. Earlier this month, members of the West Papua National Liberation Army, the armed wing of the Free Papua Movement, took a New Zealand bush pilot hostage to protest an influx of Western aid to the Indonesian military. In October, four construction workers were killed in a separatist attack.

At the same time, non-violent resistance movements have also sprung up calling for peace while still demanding autonomy. 

Esther Haluk, lecturer at Walter Post Theological Seminary in the Papuan capital, Jayapura, told VICE World News that Wamena has experienced decades of trauma at the hands of Indonesian security forces—a history that has kept the community on edge. 

“We are not heard by the government,” she said, referencing the Indonesian national government’s decision to split Papua into three more provinces last year to gain greater control over the region. “People of West Papua have dissatisfaction that can trigger bigger conflicts.” 

“There is a long history of human rights violations [in Wamena], but they were never solved by the government,” said Haluk, who is also from Wamena.

“This conflict can grow bigger because there is no justice. We know we won’t get justice even though we have victims,” Haluk said.

According to the Asian Human Rights Commission, an estimated 11,000 people died from conflict-related causes between 1977 and 1978 in the Jayawijaya region encompassing Wamena. In 2003, after an attack on Indonesian security supplies, at least nine people were killed in Wamena and thousands fled as the police and military retaliated. In 2019, at least 33 people were killed during riots allegedly sparked when a teacher called a Papuan student a “monkey.” 

Amnesty International has reported cases of sexual assault and torture by Indonesian security forces, but even when investigations are launched, perpetrators are rarely brought to justice. 

The two men suspected of last week’s kidnapping were confirmed dead by their relatives the day after the riots. “We are still grieving, there’s still an ongoing funeral for our beloved,” a relative of one of the men told VICE World News on Sunday. 

Explaining the unrest that followed, Haluk said that longstanding and legitimate fears remain in Wamena over the abduction of Papuan children. For years, muslim clerics recruited Christian Papuan children in Wamena and other areas and sent them away to live in Islamic boarding schools on Java without their parents’ consent. 

While the head of Indonesia’s National Human Rights Commission called for law enforcement officials to investigate last week’s shootings, Papuan provincial police indicated they would instead focus on finding the people who triggered the kidnapping accusations, which they have labeled false. Since the incident, more than 200 security personnel have been deployed to contain the situation.

Amnesty International released a statement condemning the violence and called for a thorough investigation. A spokesperson for the organization also told VICE World News that the incident was an “unlawful killing” by law enforcement.

However, Indonesian authorities have taken a different view. 

“The news about child kidnapping is not true because those two gentlemen were salesmen who were doing their work,” said Papua Province Police Spokesperson, Ignatius Benny Ady Prabowo, in a TV interview on Saturday. “There is now an investigation to look for the perpetrators who disseminated the hoax and instigated provocations that led to the riot in Wamena.”

VICE World News approached the chief of the Indonesian National Police, Listyo Sigit Prabowo, for comment, but did not receive a response at the time of publishing. However, regional police chief Hesman Napitupulu told local media that he asked residents to “not to be provoked by things that turn the situation into chaos.”

Later on Sunday night, two vendors in Wamena were also attacked, reportedly stabbed by an unidentified group. And although the violence has simmered in Wamena as of Monday, for now, many are worried that more bloodshed may be on the horizon. 

“The events that occurred in Wamena indicate the repeated cases of violence that have claimed the lives of many civilians in Papua,” said Usman Hamid, executive director at Amnesty International Indonesia, in a statement. “Acts of violence, let alone causing many casualties, will only escalate the cycle of violence and armed conflict there. It’s a loss for everyone.”

Elma Nazhira contributed to reporting

Follow Jack Brook onTwitter ———————————————————

60,642 people displaced, 732 dead due to armed conflict in Papua:


Kompas.com – February 22, 2023

Singgih Wiryono, Jakarta — The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) has recorded that as of December 2022 as many as 60,642 civilians have been displaced — and 732 of these have died — as a consequence of the armed conflict between the TNI (Indonesian military) and the Free Papua Movement (OPM).

“Aside from having to leave their homes, people are also faced with poor nutrition that afflicts displaced people’s children that is caused by a lack of sufficient food while they are in refugee shelters”, said Kontras Coordinator Fatia Maulidiyanti in a statement on Wednesday February 22.

Maulidiyanti is therefore urging the Indonesian government to fulfill the rights of people displaced as a consequence of the armed conflict.

“[We call on] the Indonesian government to immediately deal with and provide refugees with basic rights in six Papuan regions in accordance with human rights standards”, she said.

On the other hand, in order that the number of displaced people does not increase, Kontras is urging the TNI and the OPM to immediately halt the armed conflict in Papua. The two warring parties are being asked to guarantee the safety of civilians.

The group is also urging the Indonesian government to immediately explain how they are handling the conflict in the land of the Cendrawasih — as Papua is known.

“The existing situation must also be explained transparently and be based on accountability to the public as well as the international community”, said Maulidiyanti.

The final call made by Kontras was for National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) and the government to immediately hold peace talks and mediate with armed groups in Papua.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Kontras Sebut 60.642 Warga Sipil Mengungsi dan 732 Tewas akibat Konflik Bersenjata di Papua”.]




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Report charts human-rights abuses in West Papua


24 FEBRUARY 2023

TORTURE, extra judicial killings, and abductions are being carried out with impunity in the provinces of West Papua, human-rights activists have reported, as conflict continues between those fighting for independence and the Indonesian security forces.

The 2022 Human Rights Monitor report said that amendments by Jakarta to the Papuan special autonomy law without consultation, and plans to create new provinces, added to a history of political disappointments and human-rights violations for residents of West Papua. Protesters staged demonstrations to protest at the arbitrary changes, but the report said that violations of human rights recorded increased as a result of the protest.

Researchers identified hundreds of violations. On 1 December, which many Papuans consider their independence day, there were more than 100 arbitrary arrests, the report said.

The conflict reached “a new level of escalation throughout 2022”, the report said. “More and more, the people in West Papua feel powerless to exercise their right to determine their future.”

The West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) and the United Liberation Movement for West Papua held a series of meetings with the West Papuan Council of Churches to seek a way forward. Although a ceasefire was agreed, it has not been implemented. Conflict has now spread to new areas, and more civilians have been attacked. The TPNPB has urged non-Papuans to leave conflict areas, as their cannot be guaranteed.

New Zealand pilot, Philip Mehrtens, taken hostage last week, has appeared in video footage sent to the BBC by TPNPB fighters. He appeared in the video with armed fighters to read out a prepared statement, repeating the rebels’ demands for independence. The group said that Mr Mehrtens was being held because New Zealand co-operated militarily with Indonesia.

About 60,000 people — many of whom are not receiving any government support — are now living in shelters as a result of the conflict. Others are living in remote areas of forest without access to food or health care. Church workers told researchers that the number of people displaced from the Maybrat Regency area, where there have been recent clashes, is nearly 2000, and that those living in shelters were not safe, as snipers were constantly firing around them.

Human Rights Monitor is an EU-based international group that seeks to promote human rights through documentation and advocacy. The group works in collaboration with the World Council of Churches (WCC) on situations of conflict and human-rights violations in West Papua.

The WCC said that it was concerned for the indigenous West Papuan population, owing to the “persistent and quite serious human-rights and humanitarian situation in the region, which the Indonesian government has, frankly, failed to address and correct”.

The WCC’s director of international affairs, Peter Prove, said that there was a lack of trust in Indonesian rule, which dated back to the disputed Act of Free Choice, when West Papua was integrated into Indonesia in 1969.

He said: “What we have seen over decades is a very high level of human-rights violations,” which had increased during Covid.


Victims and material losses after clash in Wamena still counting 

News Desk – Clash In Wamena 24 February 2023Jayapura, Jubi – A clash occurred between residents and security forces in Sinakma, Wamena District, Jayawijaya Regency, Mountainous Papua Province on Thursday, February 23, 2023, triggered by child abduction.

Jayawijaya Police Chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Hesman Napitupulu said the number of houses, kiosks and other buildings that were burned during the clash was still uncertain as data collection was still being carried out.“The number of victims is still not known as well. Rescue efforts are still being carried out by bringing victims to the hospital,” said Napitupulu.He explained that the problem in Sinakma began when the people of Sapalek Village saw people carrying a child in a car and suspected them of kidnapping.This was spread to the wider community, which angered the residents. Police came and asked them to resolve the problem at the police station but the community refused.When the police were about to return, the residents immediately attacked the police, leading to the burning of other residents’ houses.“We will take the next step to meet with the village leaders to prevent a similar situation occurring in the future. I ask the residents not to be provoked by things that turn the situation into chaos,” said the police chief.Meanwhile, Jayawijaya Deputy Regent Marthin Yogobi emphasized that the problem did not entirely occur in his area. “The location of the clash is only in Sinakma, not Jayawijaya Regency as a whole,” Yogobi said.“The military and police are working hand in hand to resolve the situation and consolidate all data of victims. Therefore, we hope that the community will not be provoked by rumors. In general, Jayawijaya Regency is safe and under control,” he said. (*)


Rabuka backs call for Papua group to fully join MSG

Kelvin Anthony, RNZ Pacific digital and social media journalist 

@kelvinfiji Kelvin.Anthony@rnz.co.nz

Lydia Lewis, RNZ Pacific Journalist


Benny Wenda, left, and the Prime Minister of Fiji, Sitiveni Rabuka Photo: Government of Fiji

Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka is the first Fijian leader in 16 years to hold a one-on-one meeting with the head of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), while also confirming his government will support the independence campaigners bid to become full members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).

However, “sovereignty issues” will need to be considered, Rabuka told RNZ Pacific.

ULMWP’s exiled president Benny Wenda said “Melanesia is changing” following his meeting with the Fiji PM on Wednesday.

Wenda said Rabuka welcomed him with an open heart and listened about the human rights atrocities faced by indigenous Papuans.

He described Rabuka holding the Morning Star flag – which is banned by Indonesia – as “overwhelming”.

“The people of West Papua are celebrating because after 16 years somebody [from Fiji Government] has stood up for West Papua and held the Morning Star Flag flag with the president of the United Liberation Movement.

“I think that gives us confidence that the issue now is in Melanesia’s hands,” Wenda said.

Rabuka said the ULMWP understand the international ramifications and objective of having discussions with governments.

The ULMWP have been campaigning to gain full membership with the MSG and currently has observer status.

The bloc includes Fiji, New Caledonia’s FLNKS, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, which is the current chair of the group. Indonesia has associate membership.

The West Papua independence campaigners have submitted its application for membership twice, in 2015 and 2019.

Rabuka said the MSG had precedent for granting full membership to an organisation.

“We had the FLNKS as full members of the MSG before New Caledonia as such became part of the MSG,” he said

“Yes, we will support them [ULMWP] because they are Melanesians.”

“I am more hopeful [ULMWP gaining full membership],” he said, adding “I am not taking it for granted. The dynamics may have changed slightly but the principles are the same.”

Wenda said the MSG leaders are expected to meet in July and he feels assured after his meeting with Rabuka that Melanesian leaders will respond to their calls.

“I am going back with a good spirit and my people are all celebrating,” he said.

Marape: Indonesian control must be respected 

But earlier this week at a joint press conference, Rabuka and Papua New Guinea’s PM, James Marape, stressed that Indonesia’s sovereignty over Papua must be respected.

Marape said while PNG sympathised with the Melanesians of West Papua it “remains part of Indonesia.”

“We do not want to offset the balance and tempo,” Marape said.

Rabuka added there were also similar cases existing in the Pacific territories.

“We have Micronesian, Melanesian communities in Fiji and their original home countries now respect the sovereignty of Fiji,” he said.

“I am sure they [other Pacific nations] have people-to-people direct contact with [communities in Fiji] to enhance their livelihood here and also continue to promote their culture because of their heritage.”

He said it was the same for for the indigenous Papuans of Indonesia.

“We must respect the sovereignty issue there because it could also impact on us if we try to deal with them [West Papua and Indonesia] as separate nations within a sovereign nation.”