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
Individuals might take advantage of current situation in Papua for own interests to meet President Widodo
Jayapura, Jubi – Emus Gwijangge, Papua parliament member from the Democratic fraction, appeals to any individuals or groups to not exploit the current situation in Papua for their personal or group interests.
He said this to pointing some recent group meetings with President Joko Widodo in Jakarta. The first group, he mentioned, met the president and then proposed some requests, while another group claimed Papuan youth representatives met some state officials. And the most recently some officials of the Indonesian community group in Papua met President Widodo and asked the president to divide the region of Papua into seven indigenous territories in both Papua and Papua Barat provinces.
“Everyone has a right to meet the president. But please do not act on behalf of indigenous Papuans while requesting something to the president,” Gwijangge told Jubi on Wednesday (16/10/2019).
According to him, indigenous Papuans never ask for a title, new regional split or anything else. What they want is the central government sit together with them in a forum facilitated by the third parties addressing some issues that occurred in Papua.
“What indigenous peoples want is a historical correction as well as the settlement of many cases of human rights violations in Papua. Therefore, the Melanesian race no needs to continue our contention against the central government. We shouldn’t go to Jakarta for asking so many random requests,” he said.
Moreover, he hopes President Widodo and other state officials should carefully accept the proposed meeting by any groups from Papua who claimed to represent indigenous peoples.
He said if the president and state officials want to meet indigenous Papuans, they must invite the indigenous representatives. Also, the provincial government officials, local parliament and Papua’s People Assembly members and religious leaders are there to consider.
“The sort of this representation would guarantee that the aspirations delivered to the president are coming from the indigenous Papuans. It would contribute to the future of our grandchildren for they would not be engaged in the same problems and continuously become victims,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ahmad Taufan Damanik, the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, said Komnas HAM has repeatedly advised President Jokowi to come to Papua for a dialogue. The president is suggested meeting people and any relevant stakeholders to solve problems in Papua.
However, he said, the president has contrary invited other groups, who claimed themselves as Papuan leaders, to Jakarta.
“Inviting a group of people from Papua to Jakarta is not what we meant, but the president himself needs to come to Papua,” said Ahmad Taufan. (*)
Reporter: Arjuna Pademme
Editor: Pipit Maizier
Discrimination handling refugees hurts Papuans
Jayapura, Jubi – The way government handling the humanitarian conflict in Papua has become a spotlight. Many people think the government are being discriminative in handling Nduga refugees compared to refugees from Wamena.
A native Ndugama Resina Lokbere said that she is discouraged seeing how the government differently treated refugees from both areas. “I see a huge difference approach here. Although the government always declare our national motto ‘unity in diversity’, but I have not seen this applied in Papua. A conflict in Nduga has occurred since 1 December 2018. Since then, Nduga residents must leave their villages and flee to other regions and the jungle to avoid a military operation,” she said.
Moreover, she said if the government are a concern in settling the humanitarian conflict in Papua, they should treat people fairly. The government should treat people equally, regardless of indigenous Papuans or non-Papuans.
“Thousands of youth and children drop out of school, and now they are living under poor health condition. There is economic loses as well. Who knows whether they will be survived or dead after a few months of suffering without enough food and water? I don’t know. Only God is the witness of their suffering,” said Resina whose relatives refuge from Nduga.
In her view, the way the government handling the issue of refugees can create a barrier in society. She thinks the government has indirectly built a wall between one community to others.
“The government should not perceive conflicts in Nduga and Wamena merely from a political view but also a humanitarian aspect. They are all your people. They need you. They need your action, not your promises on the public stage,” she said.
Meanwhile, a local parliament member Laurenzus Kadepa also think the government has shown different response in handling refugees due to conflicts occurred in Nduga and Wamena.
According to him, he observed that the victims of conflict in Wamena were promptly evacuated or accommodated with adequate facilities. They had enough food and other basic needs during the evacuation. It was opposite to what had happened to Nduga residents. They had to walk for days from their villages to Wamena and other regions.
“While there was a lack of access to food aid distribution for Nduga residents, it didn’t happen for Wamena refugees. They had planes to transport them, shelter and enough food,” he said.
Seeing what has been happening lately in Papua, the relevant stakeholders in Papua and the central government should immediately think a solution to end this current complicated situation. (*)
Reporter: Agus Pabika
Editor: Pipit Maizier
Five bodies discovered in Mbua, allegedly shot by military culprits
Jayapura, Jubi – Residents and activists from Pegunungan Tengah Human Rights Defender Networks (JapHAM) discovered five bodies on Thursday (10/20/2019) in Iniye Village, Mbua Sub-district, Nduga Regency. The bodies are suspected of the shooting victims of military culprits and covered by grass and leaves before being buried in one hole.
Nduga youth leader Samuel Tabuni, who is also a relative of the victims, said the victims left Wamena on 20 September for picking food supplies by car. They went together with a group of young men. Some group members then separated for taking food to their villages. Meanwhile, the victims took their supplies to Gua Batu, Gunung Kanbobo because they lived far away and decided to stay in Iniye Village.
“The next day on 21 September, the five victims went to take the food they stored at Gua Batu. Another group followed them later, but while they were walking, they heard gunfire. They were scared and decided not to continue to their walk to Gua Batu. They walked back to Ineye and called me,” Samuel Tabuni told on Thursday (10/10/2019).
However, after the call, he wasn’t sure about what had happened in Ineye. So he asked the police for further investigation. But the police said there was no report of the shooting incident in Mbua.
“The victims are my relatives, so I must continue to find the truth. After twenty days, it finally reveals that allegedly military culprits have shotted these five people,” said Samuel Tabuni.
He said a resident who called him witnessed military personnel at around Gua Batu.
The five bodies later identified as Mrs Yuliana Dorggi (35), Mrs Jelince Bugi (25), Mrs Macen Kusumbrue (26), Tolop Bugi (13) and Hardius Bugi (15).
“Local people and JapHAM Pegunung Tengah led by Theo Hesegem discovered their bodies,” said Samuel Tabuni.
Meanwhile, Kodam (regional military command) XVII/Cenderawasih admitted to Jubi that they have not yet received any information regarding the shooting incident in Iniye Village.
“We have not received an official report from the local unit,” said Colonel Eko Daryanto, Kodam spokesperson, to Jubi via WhatsApp.
Since a military conflict occurred in Nduga in the early of December last year, 189 residents are reportedly dead because of starvation in a refugee camp or shot by the military and police. Following the incident, thousands of Nduga residents have fled, and 39 churches have vacated.
Currently, according to Samuel Tabuni, Nduga residents demand the government to withdraw the joint military and police troops from Nduga. Furthermore, Nduga urgently needs humanitarian aid to supply food, medicine and support from the international humanitarian organisation to conduct an independent investigation on human rights violations in Nduga.
Meanwhile, Papua Governor Lukas Enembe hope Nduga refugees are not treated differently with refugees from another conflict in Wamena.
“Nduga residents are also the Indonesian citizens who should be treated equally as other residents,” said Governor Enembe.
Further, he said the case of Nduga refugee is an extraordinary case related to a humanitarian issue.
Therefore, he said he already communicated with the regents of Jayawijaya and Lanny Jaya because most of Nduga refugees are currently staying in these two regencies. He asked the regents from both regencies to treat Nduga refugees well because they are also Papuan citizens who need the attention of the government. (*)
Reporter: Victor Mambor
Editor: Pipit Maizier
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