by John NR Gobai
(with additional reporting from WPM stringers in Paniai)
January 31, 2014
“Tolong…, Tolong…, Tolong.., “Naitai Ugatame wae…, itoo ko anii bokaga noo… “
(‘Help….Help….Help… Father God my Creator, at this moment I have died.” In the local Mee language)
This scream to God for help in a state of great pain was uttered by Yulianus Yeimo, aged 45 years old, an ex primary school teacher who suffered mental illness towards the end of his life. In 2008 Yulianus had completed education at a higher level for teachers at the ISSP Institute in Enarotali, Paniai, obtaining a degree in Social Sciences.
The most saddening incident of violence against Yulianus occurred on 18 August 2012 at around 0900 hours. For 3 years since 2009 until that date, Yulianus Yeimo had always worn the old faded and shabby police uniform left by his late father together with matching shoes. Each morning he had climbed the hill of Bobaigo then when he reached the top of the hill he would take his position before the white and red Indonesian flag that flew (which at that time was flown by the Indonesian military at that location). He would spontaneously show respect to the flag and then take it down. Yulianus had become a little mentally disturbed and he acted each morning in this routine as if he was a member of the Indonesian Police force. His father before him had been a police officer under the Dutch so Yulianus remembered the ways of his father.
That day the flag that was in his hand and became into three pieces. One part was tied around his left arm, one part to his right arm and the third part around his head. After he descended from the hill he walked towards the town of Enarotali until the place where three roads meet leading to Kogekotu. When he passed there in the direction of PLTD Enarotali, a group of immigrants approached him and immediately launched an attack on him punching him in the face. Once knocked down he was kicked again and again in the chest. His head was beaten using an iron bar and a stick. Collapsed on the ground his face and chest were trampled on again and again. Blood flowed from his face and nose.
“Tolong…, Tolong…, Tolong…, “Naitai Ugatame wae…, itoo ko anii bokaga noo…,“ he called out to God in the local Mee language.
His screams of pain were not enough to move the hearts of the group of immigrants wearing ordinary civilian clothes who attacked him. Bruised all over, he was then beaten yet again by the group. This time with a rifle butt so that it broke his nose. A lot of blood came from his nose so that blood was all over his body. He screamed out pleading for help, moaning in pain and sobbing then cried:
“Naitai Ugatame wae……….itoo ko anii bokaga noo………”
He was dragged a few meters then forced to stand but fell, then was dragged again. His head and body were beaten again with the iron bar. He was forced to stand but fell again and was dragged again until the asphalt road. Then at approximately 100 metres from the kiosks on the corner of the airfield at the front of PLN Enarotali, his body was left sprawled on the ground unconscious. Not long after he was dumped a Police patrol vehicle from East Paniai came and took him to the East Paniai police station for security reasons. After he had regained consciousness he was sent home.
(Author’s Note : We acknowledge that for a person of normal mental health an incident of tearing the national flag would be an insult to the State, but for a person who had not been mentally well since 2009 does such punishment make any sense?)
It is suspected that Indonesian military (TNI) and police had been carrying out retaliation at that time against the Paniai community, with the result that even a person who was mentally unwell had become a victim of their aggression. It is suspected that the TNI were supicious that Yulianus Yeimo was not in fact mentally unstable.
On 25 January 2014 at 0700 hours Yulianus Yeimo was found dead at the Boutai River at the village of Dagouto in East Paniai, with injuries on his nose, chest and face and with impressions in a number of places on his body.
According to Yulianus Yeimo’s family it was four days before his body was found. He had not been seen for that period. He was suspected to have become a victim of violence of an unidentified assailant and that the violent act had been committed on the shores of the river then the victim’s body thrown into the Boutai River.
Our analysis of his death is as follows :
1) That Yulianus Yeimo became the victim of violence of unidentified person / persons on the banks of the river, then his body was thrown into the river so that it would be concluded that Yulianus died from drowning.
2) It is suspected that Yulianus Yeimo was killed by either a ‘silent operation’ or alternatively was a victim of retaliation.
We (The Traditional Customary Council Paniai )demand the following:
1) That the Head of Police in Papua and the Commander of XVI Bumi Cendrawasih immediately give instructions to the Head of Police in Paniai to carry out an exhaustive investigation into who was responsible for the violence against the late Yulianus Yeimo.
2) That the Head of Papuan Police and the Commander of XVII Bumi Cendrawasih immediately cease all military operations including road patrols in Paniai as the area is not a security risk and is controllable without those forces. We acknowledge that it may be a work task of the Forces however at times the Forces fail to become aware which circumstances present security situations and risk becoming unstable.
3) We request that the Commander of XVII Bumi Cendrawasih withdraw all military personnel, both regular and additional forces now in Paniai, including Kopassus, Paskhas and National Intelligence personnel. Furthermore that the Head of Police in Papua withdraw its members from the gold prospecting area of Paniai as their presence only creates mistrust between the forces and the community.
John NR Gobai is the Chairperson of the Traditional Customary Council Paniai and a long time human rights investigator.