Papua, Jubi – Calm has yet to return to Nduga regency in Indonesia’s Papua province where separatist rebels killed 19 construction workers in December, forcing residents to flee to escape clashes between the insurgents and government security forces, officials and residents said Wednesday.
Soldiers and police launched an operation code-named “Operasi Nemangkawi” to capture those responsible in the killings of workers who were building the Trans-Papua Highway. Regional military spokesman Col. Muhamad Aidi said no arrests have been made.
“We have been focusing on restoring security, protecting citizens and displaced people,” Muhamad said.
Meanwhile, fears abound that more violence could erupt.
“We are afraid to return to our village because there are still soldiers and police,” Usman Lokbere, an Nduga resident who fled to Wamena, the main town in Jayawijaya regency, told BenarNews on Wednesday.
In addition to efforts to capture the suspected killers, the military sent 600 soldiers to Nduga this week to resume the construction of bridges as part of the highway that stretches more than 4,300 km (2,687 miles) from Sorong, the largest city in West Papua province, to Merauke regency, and is scheduled to be completed in 2019.
“The TNI (Indonesian Armed Forces) personnel are currently on their way to Timika, then to Nduga,” said Osman Marbun, head of the Jayapura National Road Development Center (BBPJN).
The soldiers, based in the capital of South Sulawesi province, are to provide security while working on the construction project, according to a military official.
“The 600 TNI personnel will be deployed around the Trans Papua road, between Wamena and Mumugu,” regional military chief Maj. Gen. Yosua Pandit Sembiring said.
The West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB), armed wing of the Free Papua Movement (OPM), claimed responsibility for the killings, alleging that the people they killed were soldiers from the military’s engineering detachment, and not civilian workers.
Construction on parts of the highway has been stalled for months, but President Joko Widodo has vowed to finish the project as part of his promise to develop the resource-rich area.
Papuan House of Representatives member Laurens Kadepa criticized the military’s move, saying sending reinforcements was not a solution and would only add to the climate of fear.
“Indonesia is being watched closely by the international community, global church councils and even the United Nations due to the ongoing violence in Papua, but the central government still maintains the practice of violence,” he told BenarNews.
“The spotlight (on Indonesia) should have prompted the government to reform security measures in Papua,” he said.
Human rights activist Peneas Lokbere said sending hundreds of soldiers contradicted claims by authorities that security had been restored in Nduga and that residents have returned to their villages.
“If indeed the situation in Nduga is peaceful, why is the TNI sending reinforcements? That will only prolong people’s trauma,” he said.
Nduga resident Raga Kogoya called the decision to send more troops unfair.
“We are only a few, why must we continue to be subjected to security operations,” Raga told BenarNews.
Daniel Kogoya, spokesman for the Nduga Regency Regional Secretariat, said the local government remains focused on providing food and health care to residents who were uprooted from their homes by the violence.
“Many people are still displaced. They have little food to eat and their health is deteriorating,” Daniel said. “Displaced children have been unable to attend classes while exams are approaching.”
Papua is one of the archipelago’s poorest regions despite its rich natural resources. It declared independence from Dutch colonial rule on Dec. 1, 1961, but that was rejected by the Netherlands and later by Indonesia.
In 1963, Indonesian forces invaded the region and annexed it, and six years later held a controversial referendum in which, according to rights groups, security forces selected slightly more than 1,000 people to agree to the region’s formal absorption into the archipelagic nation. (benarnews.org)
This article appeared first time in benarnews.org
Papua death toll rises, more than 6000 evacuated after Sentani floods
Papua, Jubi – The death toll from flash floods in Indonesia’s Papua region has risen to 89.
The aftermath of deadly flash flooding in Sentani, Papua, 17 March 2019.
Over 6000 people have been evacuated from flooded villages after days of heavy rain.
The worst affected parts are in and around Jayapura and villages near Lake Sentani which overflowed, spilling large volumes of water through surrounding areas.
Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency earlier said over 70 people were killed by landslides in Jayapura regency and others died from floods in Jayapura city.
Along with the dead, 74 others are missing and 159 people have been injured.
More than 11,000 families have been affected by the flash flooding.
People are frightened and some are blaming climate change according to Derek Windessy from Indonesia’s Red Cross.
“Because it is still raining, raining and raining again. Last night still raining and some rivers throw up and flood through in the villages, so it’s hard,” he said.
“Almost three days or four days. People cannot sleep well. And then they scare. So they need to move to the safety place now,” said Derek Windessy.
There are evacuation centres in six locations.
However, finding survivors is the focus for local government, said Mr Windessy, and supplying food and water to evacuees.
He said President Joko Widodo is likely to visit the area tomorrow and denied reports some agencies may have been blocked or prevented from providing aid to those in need.
Mass evacuations and reforestation ordered
Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo has called for the re-planting of forests around the upper reaches of the river which empties into Lake Sentani, which has risen and flooded surrounding villages.
Indonesia’s disaster management agency has attributed the floods to deforestation and encroachment on a nature reserve in the Cyclops Mountains over the past 15 years.
The head of Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency Doni Monardo has blamed the disaster on deforestation for construction, on steep terrain and the intense rainfall.
He said there is no need for people to cut down trees to improve the economy.
A spokesperson, quoted by Indonesia’s Tempo news agency, said the flooding was triggered by extreme rainfall and forest damage.
A month’s worth of normal rain fell in the space of seven hours at the weekend.
More than 2000 hectares of rain catchment area has been cleared for development, the spokesman said.
Dobonsolo, Doyo Baru, and Hinekombe districts in Jayapura’s Sentani region are reported to be the worst affected.
Medical services and public kitchens are treating and supporting the injured and displaced victims.
Local government and the police are clearing away logs, rocks, debris and other materials with heavy equipment.
Seventy kilometres of roads in the Jayapura, Sentani and Kemiri area are covered with mud and fallen trees.
Disaster authorities say hundreds of houses are damaged and some are submerged.
A number of public facilities are also severely damaged including eight schools, three churches and three bridges.
Clean water, food needed after flooding in Papua
Meanwhile, clean water, food and blankets are among pressing needs in the flood affected areas.
At least 68 people had died after heavy rain at the weekend triggered floods and landslides around the provincial capital Jayapura.
Rosemarie North of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said teams had been going out to assess the needs of displaced people and deliver emergency help.
She said medical care, sleeping mats, and hygiene items like soap, towels and toothbrushes are also needed.
She said, Lake Sentani which is 20 kilometres from Jayapura had risen flooding surrounding villages.
The Red Cross said it was a worrying situation for people around the lake and in many other areas because the rain is still falling. (*)
Indonesian Military: Papuan Rebels Mount Deadly Attack on Soldiers
The attack in Nduga regency took place a few days after the Indonesian armed forces (TNI) announced the deployment of 600 additional soldiers to the area to safeguard the completion of the Trans-Papua Highway project. Construction was disrupted in early December when separatist rebels killed 19 members of a crew working on the project in Nduga, military officials said.
In Thursday morning’s incident, two dozen soldiers who were assigned to provide security for the project came under attack from a large group of rebels in Mugi, a district of Nduga, said Muhammad Aidi, spokesman for the Indonesian military command in Papua.
“There was a sudden attack by about 50-70 people armed with various weapons, including military-standard weapons and traditional weapons such as arrows and spears,” Aidi told BenarNews.
The body of one suspected insurgent was found on the site, but soldiers believed that more rebels may have died in the encounter because the insurgents had left weapons at the scene, Aidi said.
“We saw them carry their members who were shot,” he said.
Aidi said the attackers were believed to be members of a Papuan rebel faction led by Egianus Kagoya.
The group, which calls itself the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB), claimed responsibility for killing the 19 construction workers three months ago. The rebels claimed at the time that the workers were members of the military’s engineering detachment.
TPBPB spokesman Sebby Sambom denied that any rebels were killed in Thursday’s clash.
He said fighting broke out after eight government soldiers interrogated a local named Amos Kogeya, and set fire to several traditional houses belonging to residents.
The blazes attracted the attention of TPNPB members, who immediately went to the location, Sebby said.
“We pursued TNI members. We received a report that five TNI members were killed in the clashes. On our side, no one was killed,” Sebby told BenarNews.
The dead body found by the soldiers belonged to a civilian, Sebby said, identifying him as 52-year-old farmer Amiri Nimiangge.
“The body has nothing to do with the gunfight,” Sebby added.
Elsewhere in the troubled mineral-rich province, an activist with the West Papua National Committee, Victor Yeimo, called for a referendum on self-determination in Papua to resolve the conflict peacefully.
“We are urging the U.N. Human Rights Commission to come Papua. Indonesia must have the political will so that the conflict in Papua can be resolved peacefully and democratically through a referendum,” Yeimo said.
Laurens Kadepa, a member of the Papuan legislative council, said soldiers faced a difficult situation because separatist rebels mixed in with the local population and had to deal with difficult terrain.
“I deplore the deaths of TNI members and civilians. This violent conflict must be stopped immediately,” Kadepa said.
Earlier this week, the military said it was sending 600 reinforcements to Nduga to resume construction of the Trans-Papua road, after work on the project was halted in the wake of the early December killings of the 19 workers. Following the incident and fighting that ensued then between Indonesian security forces and Papuan rebels, Jakarta sent 154 police and soldiers to Nduga.
The killings of the three soldiers on Thursday was the first insurgency-related fatality on the military’s side since a soldier was killed at Mapenduma airport in Nduga on Jan. 29, when rebels tried to shoot down an airplane carrying Indonesian officials.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Nduga residents still have not returned to their villages out of fear of being trapped in armed clashes between separatist groups and security forces.
A low-level separatist conflict has been taking place in Papua, a region where the population is predominantly Melanesian, since the 1960s.
Papua declared its independence from Dutch colonial rule on Dec. 1, 1961, but that was rejected by the Netherlands and later by Indonesia.
In 1963, Indonesian forces invaded the region and annexed it. In 1969, the region held a controversial referendum in which security forces had selected slightly more than 1,000 people to agree to Papua’s formal absorption into the archipelagic nation, according to human rights advocacy groups. (benarnews.org)
This article appeared first time in benarnews.org
Indonesian military dismisses negotiation with Papuan guerillas
Papua, Jubi – Indonesia’s military says negotiation with the West Papua Liberation Army can only take place if both sides have the same goal.
Humanitarian concern is growing for villagers displaced by armed conflict in the Highlands between the Liberation Army and Indonesia’s military.
Indonesian military operations intensified in the region after the Liberation Army massacred at least 16 road construction workers in Nduga regency in December.
The Liberation Army had indicated it was willing to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
But Indonesia’s military spokesman, Colonel Muhammad Aidi, said this would be difficult.
“The aim of Indonesia’s Military is to preserve the sovereignty of the Republic of Indonesia. If the purpose of the “armed criminal group” is to be independent from Indonesia, surely the dialogue or negotiation will never be realised.” (*)
- Papua death toll rises, more than 6000 evacuated after Sentani floods 22 March 2019
- Indonesian Military: Papuan Rebels Mount Deadly Attack on Soldiers 16 March 2019
- Indonesia: Papua Residents Fearful even as Military Presence Grows 14 March 2019
- Indonesian military dismisses negotiation with Papuan guerillas 13 March 2019
- The crackdown in West Papua continues before the pools 13 March 2019
- Bupati dukung rencana gubernur relokasi warga 22 March 2019
- Pengungsi Nduga kekurangan pelayanan kesehatan 22 March 2019
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