Special report: Risking peace in Wamena (part 4 of 6) – West Papua No.1 News Portal
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Special report: Risking peace in Wamena (part 4 of 6)



Refugees of Wamena riot flew to Jayapura by Hercules of Indonesian Airforce before returning to their hometowns. – Jubi/Vembri Waluyas

An exploded mass riot blasted Wamena, the capital of Jayawijaya Regency, Papua on 23 September 2019 has shocked the public’s sense of humanity. Everyone was shaken and mourned to see how the anti-racism protest by students exploded into a riot killing at least 42 people and destroyed half of the biggest town in Papua’s central highland. 

But what people want right now is to embroider the already-torn apart social relationship, to heal the wounds promptly. On the other hand, the government has many things to do if they want to rebuild a robust peace in society. This is the fourth part of six articles of “Risking peace in Wamena.”

Vague data on victims 

The day after the riot in Wamena, National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian gave a press statement broadcasted on several national television channels. Tito said student demonstration in Wamena was triggered by a teacher calling her student ‘monkey’. Further, Tito stated the mass riot in Wamena started from around 07.30 am to 3.pm local time.


“The mob…anarchists, some were throwing stones at shops nearby, especially owned by migrants…some shops were also burned…Until today (Tuesday, 24 September 2014) at 12 pm, twenty-six people died. Of these 26 victims, please take note, twenty-two are migrants. They died by stab wound and trapped in houses or shop during the fire. Then the other four victims are indigenous Papuans. Meanwhile, sixty-six others were injured,” said Tito in a press conference conducted in Jakarta, 24 September 2019.

After an update, the official police record said 33 people had died in Wamena riot. Twenty-five is “Papuan migrants”, while eight are “indigenous Papuans”. However, in separate research, Jubi discovered the number of dead victims in the riot is 42 people.

The mass riot in Wamena eventually harmed everyone’s humanity. Public shocked hearing many people died in their burning house or shop that was surrounded by the mob. This violent incident has lived thousands of migrants with trauma, which made them panic to get a flight seat to live Wamena.

Meanwhile, the dichotomy narratives on “Papuan migrants” and “indigenous Papuans” can easily create generalisation that “indigenous Papuans” are the perpetrators, while “Papuan migrants” are the victims. In reality, there are also many indigenous Papuans becoming victims in the riot.

When met in Jayapura on 1 October, Papua Governor Lukas Enembe declined this accusation. “This is not a conflict between Baliem Valley’s people with the migrants. Even, there is a student who Baliem Valley native got burned after refusing to join the mob, whereas two other students tortured, and they are also indigenous Papuans. This incident is not a conflict between indigenous and migrants,” said Enembe.

On the other side, there are many indigenous Papuans who save the migrants. “It was Baliem Valley natives who eventually save many migrants during the incident,” said Enembe.

The Rev. Simet Yikwa, a priest of Papuan Baptist Church (PGBP), for example, mobilised church officials to evacuate the migrants who mostly are the owners of the shops, car repair shops or stalls in Homhom and Pikhe streets. Other priests from Panorama Baptist Church and Kibaid Church also did the same. Natives in Homhom have evacuated at least 700 migrants.

Around two kilometres from the northern of Yikwa’s church, Obeth Mabel also saw many strangers run away in all direction and acted anarchy. When he saw the anarchy mob tried to burn a house at the t-section of Mikael Alua Street, Mabel and residents were determined to evacuate the migrants from their homes and shops in Pikhe Street.

They took the shop owners in the houses of natives to hide. “About 58 households. [They are] from different ethnicities, Batak, Enrekang. We took them along with their wives and children to our houses [natives. Some of them are my truck drivers. We finally dropped them to Wamena because the situation was uncertain,” said Mabel.

Meanwhile, at Pasar Misi, the traditional market in Wouma, the location where most death victims found, Robert Surabut and his three neighbours covered dozens of traders in their houses. “We took them to our houses. The outraged mob had arrived in front of the Pasar Misi housings, asked us where the traders from Pasar Misi were going? We said, ‘don’t know’.”

The police could handle the situation in Wamena after 4 pm. Both police and army were able to pick up the migrants who were being hidden by Yikwa, Mabel, Surabut and other natives.

The story of natives rescuing the migrants made the public outside Papua to be more careful in digesting the dichotomous narrative of “Papuan migrants” and “indigenous Papuans”. However, most indigenous Papuans are fear to be blamed. They decided to leave Wamena towards the remote mountains.

Meanwhile, Jayawijaya Regent John Richard Banua admitted to receiving information about indigenous Papuans who left the town. “We received reports from several sub-district heads about people from Lanny Jaya, Nduga, Yalimo, Tolikara who previously lived in the central of Wamena town have moved to nearest sub-district in Walelagama, Kurulu,” said Banua on 2 October 2019 in Wamena.

A gunshot victim in Asotipo, Wamena. – Jubi/Vembri Waluyas

The Regional Secretary of Lanny Jaya Regency Christian Sohilait said at least 

 6, 662 of formerly Wamena residents from Lanny Jaya had fled to the outskirt because of terrifying hearing rumour about security forces will seize and arrest indigenous Papuans who suspected involved in the riot on 23 September. “They fled to 43 location in Wamena outskirts, and 23 Papua Baptist churches,” said Sohilait on 8 October.

Meanwhile, Father Ivan Simomora OFMCap of St. Fransiskus Asisi Parish in Musatfak said there were thousands of Papuan natives walked across Musatfak on 24 to 25 September from Wamena. “Since 24 September, I saw some women and children walked in Musatfak carrying pots, cauldrons, wearing modest clothing to leave Wamena. The road was full; it was like an exodus,” said Father Ivan.

Among the refugees, he met a man whose leg wounded by a gunshot. “He kept his name a secret. The bullet was still in his leg. He refused to take to Jayawijaya Public Hospital in Wamena. He just gave the man antibiotics because his wound already swollen. He also found another man with burn injury and also refused to go to the hospital. They lived only for a night in Musatfak, then going somewhere,” said Father Ivan.

Based on the ground research, Jubi discovered the fact that 42 people died in Wamena riot. This number is higher than the police data, which recorded 33 death victims. To Jubi, Father Ivan Simamora predicted the number of Papuans who killed or wounded might increase, given indigenous Papuan are often fear to report deaths or injuries in an incident like the mass riot in Wamena.

“The problem is repeatedly the same. If indigenous Papuans injure in the conflict, they are always scared to go to the hospital. If someone dies in a conflict, their family are also afraid to make a report. They are afraid of being arrested or blamed,” said Father Ivan. (To be continued)

Jubi journalists Victor Mambor, Islami Adisubrata, and Benny Mawel contributed in this article. 


Reporter: Aryo Wisanggeni

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Hundreds of people were detained in Papua ahead to 1 December




One of four students who arrested by police at Gereja Gembala Baik, Abepura on 1 December. – Courtesy of LBH Papua

Jayapura, Jubi – Around 112 people were arrested by police in several towns of Papua and Papua Barat provinces within a week ahead to 1 December 2019 under the treason article concerning the Morning Star flag-raising.

Five days before 1 December which commemorated as the Papuan political manifesto by Papuans, a young Papuan activist Pilipus Robaha arrested by police in his house on 26 November 2019. The police questioned him in association with a letter posting on social media appealing people to attend the commemoration worship of 1 December at Trikora Square. Lack of evidence to accuse his involvement connected to the report, the police released him the next day.

A day after his arrest, the police detained eight people in Manokwari at around 3 in the afternoon of local time. The Regional Police Chief of Papua Barat Province, Brigadier General Herry Rudolf Nahak, said during the police seized twenty-nine big-sized Morning Star flags, some posters and pamphlets and two cars.

“During the interrogation, these eight people admitted that they participated in the event after reading the pamphlet about a rally at Borasi Square, Manokwari on Wednesday morning,” said the police chief.


Until Thursday (5/12/2019), they are still under the custody of Manokwari Police. So far, the police declared none of these eight persons named suspects. However, the police have charged seven detainees under the treason article, according to Yan Warinussy, the Executive Director of Legal Aid Research, Study and Development Study (LP3BH) Manokwari. Meanwhile, another one only named as a witness.

Another arrest occurred in Sentani City of Jayapura Regency. The police detained thirty-four people on Saturday evening (30/11/2019) while marching towards Trikora Square, Abepura to participate in a flag-raising ceremony. The police also accused them as the members of the West Papuan National Liberation Army from Demta sub-district and Sarmi Regency after finding evidence of their membership cards.

Jayapura Police Chief Adjunct Commissionaire Victor Makbon said “We already released fourteen of them, but twenty people have named suspects. We charged six of them under the Emergency Law on the possession of sharp weapons and the Treason Article 106 and Article 2 verse (1) of the Criminal Code.”

In the meantime, there are 13 people charged under the Treason Article 106 of the Criminal Code, while one also charged under the Treason Article 106 and Article 160 on incitement.

Regarding this case, Yohanis Mambrasaar, a lawyer from Papua Human Rights Advocates Association (PAHAM), confirmed that the report on twenty people charged for treason. Currently, he said PAHAM is preparing the power of attorney to provide legal assistance for detainees.

Separately, the police arrested four students at Gembala Baik Church in Abepura on Sunday Morning. Marvin Yobe, Desepianus Dumupa, Paul Halapok and Devion Tekege wore the Papuan highland traditional clothes and pained their bodies with the Morning Star pattern. They also brought the Morning Star flags to the Church during the worship time.

The arrested student Desepianus Dumupa said the purpose of their act was to ask God for freedom. “Our purpose carrying the flag in the worship was to ask God’s help, ask Him to liberate our nation,” said Dumupa.

However, the police then released these four students after being interrogated until 1 morning on Monday. They first questioned at Abepura Police Headquarters, then at Jayapura Police Headquarters after the police had not found any evidence at their accommodation.

By Monday morning, the police called Father James Kosay who led the worship at Gembala Baik Church on 1 December to question related to the arrest of four students. “At the time of arrest, there were twenty police officers, both without and with uniform, entered the church during the worship that made people panic,” said Father James.

A day before the incident in Gembala Baik Church, the police also called Markus Haluk, the Executive Director of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) in connection with The Call for Communal Worship on 1 December 2019. The police interrogated Haluk with twenty-nine questions for six hours.

Another detain also occurred in Fakfak. The local police of Fakfak arrested 54 people in Warpa, Pikpik and Mabuni-Buni villages of Kayauni sub-district at around 3 in the afternoon on Sunday (1/12/2019). The police accused them intending to raise the Morning Star flag at the residence of Fakfak Regent. Also, the police claimed the fifty-four detainees as the members of TPNPB after finding their membership cards during the arrest.

Fakfak Police Chief Ary Nyoto Setiawan said that the Morning Star flag was already raised in Warpa village by twenty-three people with sharp weapons. When the arrest took place, according to the chief, the police also found the amount of IDR 88 million on the scene.

“The money was about to send to their highest rank leader in Jayapura,” said the chief.

Based on their investigation, the police has officially named twenty-three people as suspects.

The Recherche and Crime Investigation Chief of Fakfak Police, Misbahul Munir, said, “ These twenty-three people wanted to come to Fakfak to wave the flag at the official residence of Fakfak Regent.“

A picture of the arrest in Fakfak widely spread in social media

A photo of the arrest in Pikpik village of Fakfak raised criticism among Papuan people following its circulation on social media. In the picture, almost naked, some people tied up together and remained sitting by the road.

“The right word for the picture is slavery. Only those who experienced colonialism can do this. They experienced the same oppression before their independence. So, they want to practice the same thing against the oppressed people,“ said Filep Karma to comment on the photo that goes viral on social media.

However, Fakfak Police has not yet confirmed about the picture. So far, the Recherche and Crime Investigation Chief of Fakfak Police has not answered the phone and WhatsApp message to clarify the photograph allegedly describes the arrest in Pikpik village. However, several Fakfak residents confirmed that the circulated photo about the detain in Pikpik village on 1 December 2019 is valid.

“They arrested on 1 (December). A man with white hair body on chess was my classmate, Yance Hegemur,” said a Fakfak resident by phone to confirm the photograph.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of Domberai Customary Council Finsen Mayor also believes the same way. “Yes, it was the picture of the incident on 1 December in Fakfak. They transported to Fakfak Police Headquarters in the evening,” said Mayor.

From Tuesday (26/11/2019) to Wednesday (4/12/2019) afternoon, there are 101 people arrested and interrogated by police in connection to 1 December. So far, 82 people are still detained in Fakfak, Manokwari and Sentani, while the rest already released by police. At least 27 people have named suspects under the treason article, in which twenty people in Sentani and other seven in Manowakri.

In the sense of police acts to anticipate 1 December by arresting Papuans, according to Yan Warinussy, it would only worsen the image of the Indonesian Government among Papuans as Papua has a different historical background to other regions in Indonesia. This recognition is implicitly acknowledged the verse e of the Law 21/2001 about the Special Autonomy for Papua.

“1 December should be used as a milestone to create constructive efforts to straighten the history of Papua by the people of Papua and the state for the sake of peace,” said Warinussy.

He further asserted that every social and political movement of Papuan people, which contain different aspirations, should be responded with the kind response and accommodated through peaceful dialogue. (*)


Reporter: Victor Mambor

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Tabi Province, for whom it established?




Illustration. -Doc

Jayapura, Jubi – An intellectual youth figure of Tabi Frangklin Wahey said the establishment of new Tabi province does not benefit the people of Tabi.

“This becomes a current big issue for native people in Tabi, and it needs further clarification from a group of regents and mayors who propose new administrative regions. In this sense, I only focus on Tabi region as the capital of Papua Province lay on it. So, I think it is weird if some native Tabi wants a new split regency. I suggest to those who propose this idea to clarify their specific needs and interest behind this,” he said.

As a native Tabi, he questioned why this regional split issue is becoming a critical issue now while did not get any attention during the first administration period.

“I think it is the interest of people who want becoming a governor in Tabi. If you want to be a governor, I suggest that better you provide a good example (to the public) and be prepared to compete (in the election). For the regent and mayor in Tabi region, I ask you to not making this issue complicated because it may disturb the harmony among indigenous Tabi,” he said.


Further, he said politically, the economy and education of indigenous Papuans in Tabi has long been left behind compared to others. If Tabi becomes a new province, it does not make them better. Instead, they will more marginalise.

“We must allow Mr Lukas to run his duty as a current governor and support him for what he has done in Tabi through outstanding development. He has made the region of Tabi a beautiful place. So, I ask the mayor and regent to build good coordination with the governor, provincial parliament and people’s assembly. Because they have authority and capacity to speak on behalf of the public interest in Papua,” he said.

Meanwhile, a native from Tobati Mrs Nonce Hanasbey hopes the government to be more focus on human resources development and local economic empowerment. According to her, it can improve indigenous livelihood and welfare.

“So far, infrastructure development has significantly progressed, and many primary changes have done. It only needs to support indigenous people in using their potential and existing natural resources for assuring these infrastructures benefit for them instead of other groups. (*)


Reporter: Aguz Pabika

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Carrying Morning Star flags in the worship, four students arrested in Church




Four students were taken to Abepura Police station while attending Mass at Gembala Baik Catholic Church, Abepura on Sunday (1/12/2019)

Jayapura, Jubi – Four students were taken to Abepura Police station while attending Mass at Gembala Baik Catholic Church, Abepura on Sunday (1/12/2019). Wearing the traditional clothes of Papuan highlands, two of them decorated their faces with the pattern of Morning Star.

The four students are Marvin Yobe, Desepianus Dumupa, Paul Halapok and Devion Tekege. “They brought three Morning Star flags,” said Mario, an Abepura resident who was at the worship.

A police officer who not wear uniform at that time stood to arrest the students when they were about to receive the Host, but hold by the congregation asking him to respect the Holly Communion. Then, the police officer took the students out of the Church after seizing their flags.

Among the four, Desepianus Dumupa (26 years old) said their aim bringing the Morning Flags to the Church was to ask God for freedom. “Our purpose coming to the worship with the flags is to ask for help from God. We ask God to give freedom for Papuans,” said Dumupa.


At the meantime, the Director of Legal Aid Institute (LBH) Papua, Emanuel Gobay, said the police took the students to Abepura police station for questioning. During the investigation, Jayapura Police Chief Gustaf Urbunas came and met with the Coalition Team of Papua Legal and Human Rights Advocates who accompanied the four students.

Urbinas stated the four students would be taken to Perumnas III Waena to inspect their accommodation after the examination for searching other evidence. After that, they would go to Jayapura Police Headquarter for further investigation.

“When asked about the legal status of the four students, the police chief said the police still ask their clarification before taking a decision,” said Gobay, the Coordinator of the Coalition team.

However, Gobay continued, after their inspection to Perumnas III, the police did not found any evidence. Then, the police took the four students to Jayapura Headquarters, took their pictures and fingerprints before continuing the interrogation.

The examination continued until 00.59; Monday, 2 December 2019 before the four students were finally released.

Meanwhile, as quoted by Antara News Agency, Papua Police Chief General Paulus Waterpauw confirmed the interrogation against the four students. “I ordered Jayapura Municipal Police Chief to explore the case, to find out what do their plans,” said Waterpauw.

He stated in general the security situation in Papua is conducive during the commemoration West Papuan Independence Day which held every 1 December. Moreover, he said there were no public activities considered disturbing the security and public order.

“Generally safe, conducive and controlled. We are grateful to all stakeholders. Therefore, the commemoration of 1 December, which is an annual event, can run in a conducive, safe and controlled,” said Paulus Waterpauw on Sunday (1/12/2019). (*)


Reporter: Victor Mambor

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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