West Papua Media
January 8, 2013
Unconfirmed reports from local activists and credible human rights observers in Paniai have claimed that 13 houses have been burnt down as sweep operations by Indonesian security forces have resumed, causing panic amongst local Papuan civilians.
The operation by a joint Indonesian army (TNI) and police unit, allegedly led by a large number of Detachment 88 troops (the elite Australian-funded counter-terror unit) is searching for Free Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-OPM) guerrilla leader Jhon Yogi, has begun with up to 13 houses burned to the ground, allegedly claimed by Detachment 88 officers to be TPN posts.
Activists from National Papua solidarity (Napas.com) have reported that Detachment 88 (d88) troops began to raid houses across the area around Pugo village on January 7, from 11am local time. According to field reports, the searches lasted well into the night, causing many people in surrounding villages to flee the area in fear of their lives.
Five Companies (approx 500 armed men) of the joint strike force (including one company of D88 troops) reportedly laid siege to the alleged headquarters area near Waididi Pogo of Yogi’s TPN-OPM Paniai region command on Monday. According to Napas.com, Yogi’s men returned heavy fire on the strike force.
According to the local community members, the civilian houses in Pogo were burned quickly on Monday by rogue Indonesian military, together with plain clothes militia or Intel (military intelligence officers), according to SMS messages sent to the media.
Since 13 December 2011, the Indonesian military forces have been regularly attacking, and systematically dismantling and burning villages and traditional buildings alleged to be posts or headquarters of the TPN-OPM Division II in Paniai.
Community members have reported to Napas.com, the movements of Yogi have been well know n by the Indonesian military, who are allegedly using the situation to have a “show force with full war equipment”, using this opportunity to surround the new TPN headquarters.
Separate reports received by West Papua Media,which have been unable to be confirmed to our verification standards, have claimed that “unknown persons” units have also fired on both civilians and military units. including gunfire that erupted from a suspected military source on a hill behind the Paniai General Hospital area at Uwibutu Madi.
According to human rights sources, Paniai people are greatly fearing for their safety amid another escalation in military offensives.
Previous offensives in the Paniai since December 2011 have displaced tens of thousands of civilians, and burnt down hundreds of villages.
West Papua Media
- Densus 88 shoot and arrest KNPB leaders near Wamena as tensions rises (westpapuamedia.info)
- ELSHAM: Reverting to the DOM era: Papua back to being a Zone of Military Operations (westpapuamedia.info)
- Lanny Jaya KNPB leader arrested and maltreated (westpapuamedia.info)
- Indonesian army units torch houses, shoot villager, during Wamena sweep operation (westpapuamedia.info)
- Without support, West Papua Media may have to close down in 2013 (westpapuamedia.info)
- Victor Yeimo: 22 Members of KNPB killed in 2012 (westpapuamedia.info)
by West Papua Media and sources
September 6, 2012
Unconfirmed reports have been received by West Papua Media from reliable sources in Paniai district, West Papua, that troops from the notorious Indonesian Army (TNI) Battalion 753 Arga Vira Tama (from Nabire, Korem 174 – Kodam XVII/Trikora) are currently conducting major house to house sweeps in the remote hill areas outside Wegamo.
At least three companies of the Battalion 753, a unit linked to ongoing brutal human rights abuses and regular incidents of torture in Paniai, have been parachuted into the the headwaters of the Weya Creek of Bibida district in Wagamo, Paniai, according to credible human rights sources.
Reports are filtering through that the TNI is searching the villages around Weya Creek for the Paniai OPM/TPN leader John Yogi, who has eluded capture after a massive offensive that has displace over 12,000 since it began in November 2011. However, Yogi has not been seen in the area according to local sources, who report that the local civilian population is bearing the brunt of interrogations and abuse from 753.
Witnesses have reported that troops from 753, supported by Indonesian Brimob police units, have been launching aggressive raids in villages since the evening of September 4, detaining and interrogating all villages and destroying property whilst seizing sharp items, including farming tools necessary for subsistence agriculture. This is prompting fears of a repeat of the humanitarian crisis that developed last December when troops from 753 Battalion torched and destroyed food gardens, forcing thousands to flee to police run “care centres” in Enaratoli. During the 2011 campaign, several people died of starvation and sickness in the care centres, whilst security forces attempted to capture Yogi.
It is unclear at this stage whether special forces troops from the Australian funded and trained counter-terror unit Detachment 88 are involved in this action, given their presence in major offensives throughout 2012 in pursuit of Yogi.
Disturbing reports from trusted sources have also emerged from the town of Moanemani, Paniai, of a major influx of combat troops and paramilitary police into the town since the weekend. Fears are being expressed by credible community sources that a major crackdown is expected by security forces, because the military and police are stopping people in the street and ordering them to shave off moustaches and beards.
Local Papuan people traditionally wear facial hair as an assertion of Papuan identity, an act seen as separatist by clean-shaven Indonesian occupation forces. Sources have also reported that civilians have been warned to bathe and wear new and clean clothing ahead of an expected offensive, and that local people are terrified that they are to be suspected and targeted as being OPM members, based purely on their traditional appearance. West Papua Media has been unable to independently verify these reports, however these action are in line with ongoing offensives and abuses by security forces across Paniai regency in recent months.
Moanemani was also the site of a vicious spate of unprovoked killings by Indonesian security forces of civilians early in 2012.
More information as it comes to hand.
- Dogiyai villagers still in shock after Moanemani incident (westpapuamedia.info)
- ELSHAM finds evidence of 749 acts of violence in Papua (westpapuamedia.info)
- The Past That Has Not Passed: Human Rights Violations in Papua Before and After Reformasi (westpapuamedia.info)
- Etan: Letter to Secretary of State Clinton on West Papua Concerns (netarumtelebe.wordpress.com)