by West Papua Media
May 31, 2012
Intensification of Indonesian security force repression on Papuan non-violent activists and ordinary villagers is allegedly occurring across Yapen Island, in response to escalating demands for freedom from violence, according to credible human rights sources on the island.
A massive raid has also been carried out by Australian-trained Detachment 88 and Kopassus special forces of the Indonesian National Army (TNI) early on May 29 on the jungle headquarters of the Yapen branch of the pro-independence National Liberation Army (TPN-OPM) near the village of Wadapi, Angkaisera district, Yapen.
Local human rights workers have told West Papua Media that many houses had been set on fire after the midnight raids and
weapons were discharged repeatedly by the combined Indonesian military and police force under the command of the Head of
Police (Kapolres) in Serui, Royce Harry Langie S.IK MH, and the District Military Commander (DANDIM), Letkol Inf Tornado. No confirmed reports of any shooting victims have come to light thus far, however West Papua Media has received credible claims that civilians who fled from the raids into the night may have sustained gunshot injuries from Indonesian troops firing into
houses, though this cannot be confirmed independently.
Reports that local police and military commanders have begun to call in major military reinforcements from across Indonesia are increasing fears of an imminent military assault on local villagers, causing many civilians to flee to forest for safety, human rights sources have told West Papua Media.
Forces from the pro-independence National Liberation Army (TPN-OPM) on Yapen have responded to fears of “all out war” between pro-independence and Indonesian occupation forces and have called for calm, ordering all TPN-OPM taskforces active in the area to not respond with violence to Indonesian brutality, citing concerns for the safety of local villagers, according to local independent local media source Warta Papua.
Local human rights sources have reported to West Papua Media that troops from the Police special forces Brimob and Detachment 88, backed up by Kopassus and Kostrad (Strategic Reserve) troops from Citanjung (Kopassus headquarters in Jakarta) and from Cenderawasih Battalion in Jayapura.
Additionally, Kopassus and Kostrad troops from the notorious Kapuas district, Kalimantan battalion of Kopassus have been deployed with the other units in many villages, in Wadapi, Wanampompi & Sasawalast and several other unnamed villages in the Angkaisera district. “We are very worried, as the addition of troops from Borneo… are known as army troops who are very sadistic in torturing civilians,” a local human rights worker told West Papua Media via SMS.
The joint taskforce troops have claimed to the TNI-owned Cenderawasih Post that they have broken a major TPN guerrilla base, however the only weapons seized were a traditional hunting poison blowpipe, a handful of traditional hunting spears, bows and arrows, two parang knives (used for preparing food), and two banned Papuan Morning Star flags. These items can be found in almost any rural dwelling in Papua, especially where residents have to supplement their food with animals from the forest.
Several other items were also seized, including cooking and farming equipment, and two 15 year old broken computer printers, which the TNI claimed was proof of a TPN headquarters.
Two men have been arrested and are currently being interrogated by Kopassus and D88 intelligence officers, with the TNI boasting that they are being intensively processed at the Yapen Police HQ in Serui. Local human rights sources have expressed grave fears for the safety of the detained men, amid credible fears that they will be subjected to harsh interrogation techniques and torture by the Australian trained and funded Kopassus and D88 officers. At this stage no legal representation has been afforded to the detainees, with one identified as Wanampompi man John Nuntian. There is also believed to be an unkown number of ordinary villagers who have been detained, and their whereabouts and status is currently unknown.
As the raids were occurring, several hundred TPN/OPM fighters have taken to the forests, and the TNI Dandim, LtKol Tornado, has told Cenderawasih Post that the campaign is intensifying to eradicate all those who are resisting the Indonesian military. He says that the estimated 230 fighters will be hunted down and the his forces will remain to conduct lightning sweeps on any village that gets named in intelligence investigations. These sweeps have traditionally subjected all its targeted villages to collective punishment, including mass burnings of houses and collective detention, acts clearly defined as war crimes.
Local sources have been unable to get a precise number of Indonesian combat troops occupying Papuan villages in Yapen, but credibly estimate to be upwards of two battalions of active combat personnel spread across twelve villages (at least 3000 combat personnel from standard battalion strengths – WPM), including specialists from Detachment 88.
Detachment 88 is fully funded by the Australian Federal Police, but the Australian government claims it is not funded to conduct operations against “separatist” or pro-independence forces, despite many documented cases of this occurring repeatedly in Papua. The Australian government has so far refused to make any sanction against the use of these forces in human rights abuses in Papua, instead increasing the budget and equipment it provides to D88.
Telephone communications with sources on the island have been sporadic, raising fears that security forces are restricting the phone network ahead of a major assault, making these reports difficult to verify independently by West Papua Media. However this activity is consistent with a more aggressive approach taken by Indonesian occupation forces against Papuan independence sentiment.
Indonesian police on Yapen have come under fire for their consistently brutal policies toward Papuan people. On May 1, thousands took to the streets to call for the expulsion of the Kapolres, Royce Harry Langie, and DANDIM, Letkol Inf Tornado, for atrocious behaviour, human rights violations, and violations of the Code of Conduct with the Indonesian military and police regulations.
- Peaceful protest against human rights violations in Yapen leads to arrests (westpapuamedia.info)
- Protest demands expulsion of Yapen police and military chiefs for brutal policies (westpapuamedia.info)
- Mass Rallies across West Papua challenge anniversary of Indonesian invasion (westpapuamedia.info)
- Unconfirmed reports of mass arrests and sweeping in Serui (westpapuamedia.info)
- German born tourist shot by “unknown persons” whilst on a beach in Jayapura (westpapuamedia.info)