Tag Archives: Indonesian State Violence

Evidence of death squads emerge after Youtefa market riot sparked by corrupt police shakedown of gamblers

In-depth Investigation from West Papua Media team, our stringers in Jayapura and local sources

July 15, 2014

  • Riot erupted after corrupt Police attempt shakedown of gambling den
  • Weapons seized from police by gangsters, who have mysteriously “disappeared”
  • Three dead civilians had nothing to do with gambling: witnesses
  • Three dead civilians allegedly targeted by security forces because of Yali tribal membership.
  • Another story of savagery from Indonesian security forces

Evidence has emerged of a savage and potentially premeditated hunt of highland students by Indonesian security forces in Abepura on July 2 after the stabbing death of a police officer sparked an allegedly brutal dispersal of civilians by security forces. Three civilians and an Indonesian police officer were killed around the Youtefa market in Abepura after a failed attempt at a shakedown by corrupt police on a gambling ring degenerated into a riot.

Full transparency of the events leading to the riot and behaviour by police in bringing it under control has been hard to verify, however eyewitness testimony gathered by West Papua Media (WPM) stringers have yielded new information that alleges death squads were operating simultaneously to the riot, targeting three students from a single tribal group who were uninvolved with the riot.

Over twenty innocent people were also taken into custody on July 2, after hundreds of uniformed and plainclothes security forces arrested civilians and beat bystanders, Papuan shoppers and particularly civilians from the Highlands, with many sustaining injuries, after unidentified persons in the crowd of gamblers earlier attacked and fatally stabbed the Indonesian police officer, and beat up his partner.

Eyewitness evidence has also confirmed that three young Yali men, Demi Kepno, Sabusek Kabak, and Yenias Wandikbo were beaten and killed well away from the riot and dispersal, by plain clothes police and Kopassus special forces soldiers. This is despite clear evidence that none of the victims were involved in either the gambling, or the subsequent riot.

The violence had its immediate roots in a daily illegal game of dice (Judi Dadu) played in an Indonesian gangster (preman) run gambling den at Pasar Youtefa, by a mixed crowd of over 100 Papuan and Indonesian colonist gamblers.  According to witnesses interviewed by a West Papua Media stringer, the dice gambling rings are part of an informal industry that served to provide daily living income for its organisers, but was usually tolerated by local police in return for a cut of proceedings to supplement their police salary.

Indonesian military and police have a long history of running highly lucrative illegal gambling operations on everything from raffles to chicken, dog and human fighting, to premiere movie tickets. Gamblers and street thugs lured to the easy money are often recruited as the muscle behind preman organisation Pemuda Pancasila, a Kopassus proxy militia front that had thrown its weight behind the Prabowo Presidential Election campaign,  casting a dark shadow of fear over Papua over recent weeks.

Just after 3.30pm local time on July 2, Police Brigadiers (equivalent to Chief Sergeant) Asriadi and Samsul Huda from Abepura’s Tanah Hitam motorcycle unit, were conducting their allegedly corrupt daily shakedown rounds to demand protection money (tax) from stallholders when they arrived at the Judi venue. It is still unknown why the officers decided to shakedown this particular venue given that preman and police usually have a sophisticated and lucrative system of payoffs.

Gamblers reported that the two police officers walked into the venue without paying admission, angering the Indonesian colonist doorman, whereupon the police drew weapons and demanded that all present (including Papuan and colonist spectators) pay a flat rate “tax” to the police.

Witnesses claimed that the two officers and a customer began arguing after some gamblers refuse to hand over any money, saying they were tired of being shaken down. One witness claimed that the “preman” (gangster) manager of the venue pushed the police officer, complaining that protection money had already been paid to a higher ranking officer, and the shakedown would be reported. The officer Asriadi then smacked another gambler, the relatives of whom retaliated by seizing his rifle and throwing chairs, bottles and other objects at the fleeing officers. None of these claims could be independently verified by WPM.

Unverified reports also claim that all the gamblers, both Papuan and Indonesian, then chased the officers through the markets.  An Indonesian colonist trader named Herman told the Jakarta Post that Brig Asriadi tripped, and “was mobbed and stabbed by the gamblers.”

Claims that the rioters had stoned the officers to death remain unverified and only alleged by Indonesian colonist traders. No Papuan witnesses could be found to confirm the claims independently of the official police version.

The commotion and cries for help from the bashed police were immediately responded to by over a hundred armed police, Brimob and members of the Australian trained counter-terror squad Detachment 88, according to witnesses who described how large groups of armed men came running from every direction within seconds of the initial chase. They in turn were joined by over 50 plain clothes intelligence, police and military, including scores of Kopassus ojek riders, in seizing and beating large groups of civilians randomly, including traders and shoppers.

Reports remain unconfirmed whether security forces opened fire directly on bystanders at the markets or fired into the air, but many gunshots were heard by various witnesses, causing Papuan civilians to flee from the area. Nine Papuan gamblers were taken into custody as suspects, however the perpetrators of the fatal beating and those who had seized weapons were allowed to escape by security forces. In addition, police and plain clothes agents arrested a further 14 Papuan bystanders, who were uninvolved in the affray. All apart from the nine were released by police late that night, most having sustained injuries from their beatings. The status of the nine Papuan gamblers who were undergoing interrogation through to the weekend were unable to be ascertained at time of writing.

The violence occurred as Papuans in Jayapura were on edge, as arbitrary arrests, shootings and unprovoked beatings on civilians by security forces intensified ahead of the July 9 Indonesian presidential election. Many Papuan civil society and pro-independence groups joined a boycott call challenging the legitimacy of Indonesia’s colonial regime. The boycott was met with calls from the Indonesian military commander in Papua, Maj-General Christian Zebua, to “shoot dead any person” distributing election boycott materials – a threat which had materialised throughout the Land of Papua.

Arbitrary murders

The deaths of the three young Papuan students, at a time when Indonesian police are almost exclusively targeting Yali student and civil resistance activists (who make up the bulk of the membership of the West Papua National Committee) in a nationwide crackdown on freedom of expression, will only reinforce perceptions of a premeditated Indonesian security force campaign to eradicate Papua of Yali people. “The TNI hate the Yali with a passion, as this is the tribe that Benny Wenda is from,” an observer told WPM during the investigation, referring to the high profile UK-based leader of the Free West Papua Campaign.

Certainly members of the families of the dead agree that their dead children and brothers are being unfairly targeted.

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Sabusek Kabak (24) was a university student from the Yali village of Porongkoli in Yahukimo Papua. He passed through the Youtefa market at 8.00am from the Kilometre 9 post at Koya and continued on to the GKI Church students Hostel Liborang in Padang Bulan.

According to interviews with his younger brother Wemen, friends and witnesses, at 3.30pm on July 2 Sabusek went again to Youtefa, planning to return to Kilo 9 with Wemen.  After arriving at the Youtefa market he and his younger sibling didn’t have enough money to pay for the taxi back to Koya and went to look for a friend to borrow some money for their transport home.

As they were looking for taxi money, the riot broke out at the market. Some ran and there was the sound of gunfire, but Sabusek and Wemen were confused. Sabusek and Wemen agreed to go together and seek protection  at the Bank of Papua at the Youtefa market, without realising that there were “preman” plainclothed police manning a roadblock outside the bank.

They were then confronted and surrounded by the preman who were armed with sharp knives, machetes, and pistols, when Sabusek pushed his young brother behind him and told him to escape.   A transmigrant trader hid Wemen in their kiosk, however the preman police caught up and stabbed Sabusek with a bayonet through the heart, killing him instantly. Wemen and the trader witnessed the killing, as the preman walked away and left Sabusek’s body there. A woman from Biak, unknown to Wemen, told the migrant who had helped Wemen escape, “That is my child. Come my dear child let’s go home”. She then took Wemen to the protection of a Church hostel.

Sabusek’s body was not picked up by Police until the morning of 3 July 2014 by Police, who took his body to the Bhayangkara Hospital. The Kabak family were initially prevented from retrieving Sabusek’s body, and were forced to return with the Abepura Police Chief and District Head so the family could take the body. He was buried on 4 July 2014 at the public cemetery in Tanah Hitam, Abepura at 3.00pm by his family.

The Kabak family have demanded that the Papuan Police be held accountable for Sabusek Kabak’s death, and that there be an immediate arrest of those responsible and they face the process of law in the immediate future.

Unprovoked Savagery

Neither was the second victim involved in any form of opposition action against the police, yet he was savagely beaten until dead. Before the riot at the Youtefa market started, Yenias Wandikbo, a 20 year old Yali student, had been drinking alcohol together and relaxing with a friend during that day at the Engros Beach, until they ran out of drink in the early afternoon. Yenias and his friend then headed home from Engros via to the Youtefa market. In going there they reached the front of the YAMAS campus still unaware that there was a problem at the market, where they separated because of the everyday threat posed by security forces when buying alcohol. Yenias stumbled upon the riot area and straight into an ambush of plainclothes Indonesian preman – believed to be Kopassus soldiers by witnesses due to the impunity in which they moved. These preman then caught, beat and killed Yenias, witnessed by many in broad daylight less than one hundred metres away from the Youtefa market.

Yenias was beaten about the head with such extreme force that his brow, nose area, and rear of his skull was split apart. After Yenias was killed, his body was taken by the police to the Bhayangkara Hospital, where it was held until 3.20pm on July 4. Yenias’ family took him home to Nayak Hostel in Abepura, in order to transport his body to be taken back to Wamena.

Extrajudicial Execution

Demi Kepno, a 24 year old Engineering Student of Yali origin from Abenah District, Yalimo, was killed after being abducted by police in Abepura, at the same instance as the gambling ring was being broken up in Youtefa market, but some distance away from the market.

As with the two other victims, When Demi Kepno, together with several friends heard about the incident at the old market, they avoided returning to their homes. Demi was called by his girlfriend  – who it emerged was working as an intelligence agent – who wanted to meet with him, and he went to meet her in front of the Multi Crosir supermarket. Demi’s girlfriend ordered him to get in a black Avanza vehicle, without any idea he was getting in a car with plainclothes security forces

Demi was brought to the Yanmor Police station in Tanah Hitam just above Abepura, where he was interrogated by fully armed anti-terror police.  He managed to escape from the Police station, fleeing in the direction of Tanah Hitam Mountain. The police and plainclothes agents gave chase and Demi entered a house of a Butonese migrant, which was surrounded and searched by police, cornering Demi around 5.15pm local time, according to witnesses interviewed by WPM’s stringer.  Demi allegedly picked up a beam of wood in self-defence as police opened fire on him, hitting him in the abdomen. However, the gunshots did not kill him, so the plainclothes agents were seen to repeatedly stab Demi in the chest and neck with a bayonet, until he was dead.

His body was taken to the Bhayangkara Hospital, and the victim’s family took the body away at 4.35pm the following day to the family home at Tanah Hitam, and was buried in Abepura at the public cemetery on 5 July 2014.

Indonesian police in Abepura and Jayapura refused several attempts by WPM to provide a response to these allegations.

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Indonesia constantly ignoring West Papuan’s pleas for peace

Opinion

By : Rufinus Madai

May 14, 2014

There is never a day that passes when the people of Papua as individuals, do not express their longing to see peace.  Instead of responding to their cries for peace, their daily lives are continuously spattered with violence and conflict created by Indonesian Armed Forces.

Even at those everyday moments when people eat and drink, in every place and at all times, people of Papua are speaking of their longing for peace.  They dearly hope that the Government of Indonesia will bring an end to the violence being committed in their land. Yet their cries for over 50 years have gone unheard: the Government just ignores their pleas, showing no response whatsoever.  One can’t but question what really is the underlying desire of the Indonesian Government in regards to Papua.

It is little wonder that the people of Papua no longer trust the Government of Indonesia.  They feel so deeply that they are not truly regarded by Indonesia as being a true part of the Republic of Indonesia. As a result they don’t refer to themselves as Indonesians, but rather as Papuans.  For it is the very Forces of the State itself that are carrying out the constant acts of violence. Papuans accordingly speak of the State of Indonesia as being a coloniser, as an oppressor and as a murdering state. What is it going to take for Indonesian to rid itself of such labels and develop a new image in the hearts of the people of Papua?  To date Indonesia has never listened to the voice of the people of Papua.  The people’s constant pleas for peace , which the Government has just ignored, are not just empty words. They are an expression that comes from the bottom of people’s hearts in response to what they are experiencing and facing up to every day of their lives.  Of course Papuans question Indonesia’s true intent in Papua, when for over 50 years now the State has not only allowed the violence against the population to continue, but in fact in every instance, it has been violence and conflict created by the State’s own Forces.  Indeed the Government of Indonesia has failed miserably to date in regards to Papua.  It is this failure of the State to bring an end to the conflict in Papua which has given rise to a lack of confidence towards the Government in the hearts of the people of Papua. Yet despite all this, many people still hang on to a hope that the Indonesian Government will stop the violence and conflict against their people. But when?

The people of Papua have faithfully waited on the Government of Indonesia to act to bring about their hopes for peace in their land. Yet those hopes have fallen on deaf ears. The State needs to start hearing the cries of the people, to open its eyes and ears and act humanely and take responsibility for the continuous violence committed by its Forces. As the root of all problems in Papua lie with the Indonesian Government itself. The Indonesian government is responsible to protect the people of Papua and to take actions  to bring an end to the conflict in the land. It must change its attitude and show an intention to listen to the people and together to search for the solution that will bring about peace.

Do not ignore the cries of our people Indonesia! Bring an end to the violence in our land!

The Writer is a post-graduate level theological student at the Catholic Seminary in Abepura, Papua.

KNPB Timika Chairman freed from custody after international pressure

From our Partners at Pacific Media Centre

KNPB’s Steven Itlay … arrested then set free. (Image: Free West Papua Campaign)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

JAYAPURA (Pacific Media Watch): The West Papua National Committee’s [KNPB] Timika chairman, Steven Itlay, has been released from prison after being arrested by the Indonesian police yesterday.

The news site KNPB has reported that Indonesian police shot 10 bullets into the campaign’s office in what seemed to be an attempt to provoke a fight in order to arrest activists inside.

KNPB reported that when West Papuan activists asked the police why Itlay was being arrested, they told them: “Steven Itlay is a suspected Free West Papua activist”.

The Free West Papua Campaign said Itlay’s relatively speedy release was due to international pressure being placed on the police.

Just hours earlier, the campaign had published the phone number of the head of the Indonesian police in Jayapura on its Facebook page. It is understood that activists from all over the world phoned the number to call for Itlay’s release.

In a statement issued yesterday, the campaign said: “We would like to thank you all with all our hearts for all your incredible support for Mr Itlay and the people of West Papua, especially after the international plea for his release was made earlier today. Following his release, Steven also asked us to thank you all for the support of the suffering people of West Papua”.

Meanwhile, Papuans Behind Bars has released its April 2014 report, which details 12 incidents of torture of West Papuans in custody last month.

In one case, two West Papuans were “stabbed and slashed” by Indonesian police for objecting to police brutality against a third person, while “another seven men were tortured on arrest with electric stun batons”, the report says.

On April 2, the international day of protests for a Free West Papua, Indonesian police tortured two students at the campus of Cenderawasih University in Jayapura.

Moenemani braces for security sweeps as Brimob shoot 3 relatives of 2 Dogiyai crash victims.

By West Papua Media, with additional reporting from Tabloid Jubi

May 8, 2014

Villagers were again last night bracing for a new round of Indonesian state violence in the town of Moenemani, in the gold rich Dogiyai district in Paniai, as Indonesian Brimob paramilitary police units were reportedly conducting security sweeps after a series of tragic events left three people dead and three more fighting for their lives.

Latest reports from Paniai from credible sources, priests and human rights defenders are noting that large numbers of security forces from Brimob, Army, Kopassus Special forces, BIN (National Intelligence) and Air Force Kopaska special air commandos are being drafted in to form a special task force to “secure” Moenemani.  Local sources have reported that the situation remains highly tense right across Dogiyai after an unconfirmed report of a reprisal killing of an Indonesian colonist caused a major crisis meeting at the local Koramil (military command).

Brimob police opened fire on a crowd on Tuesday May 6, critically wounding three civilians, who gathered to seek accountability for two teenagers killed when a truck driver ploughed through a group of church pilgrims.

According to a detailed chronology written by local human rights investigators with the KINGMI church, around 6.40pm local time on May 5, Jhon Anouw and Yunsens Kegakoto, both aged 18 years, were returning on motorbikes from a religious residency at the local KINGMI church.

A truck with the number plate DS 9903 was “racing” through the streets, according to witness Benny Goo (as interviewed by SuaraPapua.com), and lost control, hitting the two teenagers outside the Papuan People’s Regional Assembly office, killing them instantly with massive injuries to their bodies.

As residents found the two victims and took them to a local funeral home to lie in state according to local custom, the truck driver had fled the scene and sought shelter at the Moanemani Brimob post in the town, according to witnesses.

The next morning, villagers and relatives began to gather at outside the Police station to demand that police release the driver in order to amicably settle the matter according to custom, and investigate the traffic accident.   Brimob officers refused, and local villagers responded by throwing stones on the roof of the Police post.

At 10am, Brimob officers emerged from the police post, firing directly at the gathered crowd without issuing any warning to disperse.  Three men were shot, Anthon Edowai, 32, Yulius Anouw, 27, and Gayus (Sepnat) Auwe, 32, and all are now in a critical condition, undergoing surgery in the Siriwini hospital in Nabire.

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All images credited JPIC/WestPapuaMedia

Tabloid Jubi confirmed the incident with Papua Police Deputy Chief Brigadier General Paulus Waterpauw, who commented. “I’ve got a preliminary report. Currently the case is being under the jurisdiction of the Paniai Police and the Kamuu Valley Police.”
Waterpauw said the situation on the ground was sometimes difficult, but urged police officers to act in accordance with the Standard Operations Procedure. “We will ensure the completion of this report,” he told Jubi.

However Brimob and the Indonesian Army have a history of extreme unprovoked violence and impunity in Moenamani against civilians, including a notorious campaign of terror in 2013 where people were forced to shave their beards and dreadlocks and traditional music was banned, and the extrajudicial execution of five civilians who were holding a card game.

Previous offensives in the  Paniai since December 2011 have displaced tens of thousands of civilians, and burnt down hundreds of villages.

A Kingmi priest with family in the area told West Papua Media on Wednesday night, “Dogiyai is in a very heated situation and emergency (sic). There will probably be further victims.  Let us take concern of the behaviour of the security forces towards civil society in Moanemani.”

Allegation are circulating that a reprisal killing occurred on a non-Papuan civilian at 1230pm after the shooting, however several credible sources cannot independently confirm this to West Papua Media, nor if the killing is an OTK (‘unknown persons’ black operation killing).  However these sources have said that alleged killing is the reason that the Special Task Force (Satgas) is being created and deployed across the district.

More information as it comes to hand.

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Opinion: Breaking down the wall separating Papua & Jakarta

Opinion

By : Rufinus Madai

 written March 12, 2014

The conflict in Papua points to there being two parties competing for the role to be seen to be ‘dealing with’ those regarded as the opposition, the Papuan Freedom Movement. These two parties being the Indonesian Armed Forces versus those which have become known in Papua as ‘OTK’ being ‘unidentified person/s’.  But in any case the end result is the same, the death of innocent indigenous Papuans. It is the indigenous Papuan community that suffers the constant loss of loved ones, the extreme stress, worry and fear that results from the continual violence committed by these two parties. When we hear of calls for an end to the violence yet again from the civilian sector in particular regions of Papua we know that behind that there has been yet again victims as a result of violence by certain parties. Is Papua going to always live in this situation of violence and conflict such that the people feel forced to struggle to find peace?

Of course the indigenous Papuan community dearly hopes that peace will come about in the land but to the present time the voice of Papuans calling for change has been being increasingly silenced. Nevertheless the  community continues calling for peace without ceasing and will continue to do so until the day if Indonesian Government succeeds in ensuring their voice is no more. Papuans long for peace but they know that those evil and cruel actions that are being carried out constantly by those holding the power in Indonesia must be stopped.  Actions that ruin the entire lives of others, that create great loss and destroy  the harmony and togetherness between those living in the same land. The Papuan community desires that peace between people which will eventually create an atmosphere of brother and sisterhood in the land, so that there may be harmony between different religions, cultures, tribes, races and social groups in the one land.

 To that end a number of groups and components within the Papuan community have been calling for dialogue between Jakarta and Papua. The call has come from the primary religious groups in Papua, from the Papuan Peace Network (Jaringan Damai Papua or JPD)  from NGO’s, human rights organisations in Papua and others that focus on humanist values. These groups remain committed to bringing an end to the inhumane acts that are being committed against human beings in Papua by the Indonesian military, police, ‘unidentified persons’ (OTK) and paramilitary groups (GPK).  If that dialogue is to be successful both parties must convey their hopes and concerns in an open manner with the mutual goal of bringing to an end to the conflict in Papua. For as long as those concerned do not unite in a mutually open way to discuss the problems, there will continue to mutual undermining of each other, continually each will see the other as enemy and the Indonesian Armed Forces and the TPN/OPM will continue to kill each other.

Of course those who are the primary victims in the middle of this conflict are the little people. The Indonesian Armed Forces as well as some elements of the TPN/OPM not only sacrifice the community in their  armed conflict but also continuously have the effect of hindering development in Papua. If we consider the situation of the Papuan community at this time, most still live in poverty, are oppressed, are being treated cruelly by the Indonesian Armed Forces, arrested and many are being killed whether by overt or covert means. Furthermore the community is feeling the Central Government’s Special Autonomy package has been forced on them. Indeed Special Autonomy  has been implemented in the community but it has totally failed to bring about any positive changes at the level of the people. The Indonesian Government has never recognised the specialness of the Papuan community and so has never made adjustments accordingly so that their plans might meet the hopes of the Papuan community. How can local leaders possibly develop Papua under Special Autonomy with such conditions?

We must look at the primary causes of why there are so many tragic incidents in Papua, so many atrocities committed, so many ‘developments’ that are not in accordance with the hopes of all citizens in Papua.  And we certainly don’t need to look far for the answers as they are very black and white. At the root of the problem is that Indonesia’s idea is to develop Papua with a security approach and in the sole interests of the Republic of Indonesia.  In bringing that about they are creating conflict in Papua such that the indigenous civilian population is forced to live in a situation where there is no peace. Where the victims are many indigenous Papuans and even nature itself of Papua is being destroyed.

Indonesia is well aware of the extent of the problems in Papua . If Indonesia truly regards the indigenous community of Papua as part of the  Republic of Indonesia, then they must stop allowing them to suffer continuously. The number of lives that have been lost in even the regions of Kab, Nabire, Paniai, Deiyai, Dogiyai and Puncak Jaya in this month of Ramadan are by no means small in number. The extent of grief over people lost in Papua itself creates a moral demand on Jakarta to open itself to dialogue with Papua. The longer the time before dialogue occurs the harder it will be for Jakarta to be received by the Papuan community. For how can the indigenous Papuan community possibly truly feel that the Indonesian Government are their leaders whilst this situation is allowed to continue? Where is Jakarta’s morality if they show no heart to help and have no sense of solidarity with those who grieve over so much loss? The situation is now most extreme in Papua and yet still to date the conflict in Papua has not been discussed in a way that is just, peaceful, democratic and dignified.

The best way to build a bridge between Papuan and Jakarta is to carry out dialogue with a neutral third party. Let us all lobby so that this dialogue becomes a reality in the interests of Papua becoming a land of peace.

The Writer is a post-graduate level theological student at the Catholic Seminary in Abepura, Papua.  

The Opinions stated in this article are those of the author’s, and are not necessarily shared by West Papua Media, they are published to reflect the diversity of opinion within Papuan civil society and to stimulate discussion between internal components and international solidarity networks