Independent human rights workers in Puncak Jaya regency have reported that Indonesian police and army in the remote highlands district of Tolikara have been continuing to arbitrarily arrest civilians, allegedly to fill arrest quotas required for promotion, as part of routine crackdowns on civilians harbouring pro-independence thought in Papua.
Three civilians were also arrested by a combined Indonesian army (TNI) and Police platoon on March 9, at the Pasar Lama market in Mulia town, Puncak Jaya. Nonggop Tabuni, Delemu Enumby and Jelek Enembe, were arrested based on false allegations according to witnesses interviewed by human rights workers, though the exact nature of the false allegations was unreported.
Credible sources have also reported that the same motive was behind the arbitrary arrest and an alleged beating by Papua Police (POLDA) in Tolikara on April 1.
Police from Tolikara station arrested a 35-year-old farmer, Josiah Karoba, 9,.25 am on April 1, while he was standing in front of a kiosk on Jalan Irian Tolikara. The victim was arrested on the pretext of failing to carry his KTP (National Identity Card), a Suharto-era law designed to identify Communists that has been relaxed everywhere but Papua.
Karoba was then arrested “roughly” and taken to the police station Tolikara, according to witness reports, however Karoba’s family have no information about his current status or whereabouts since his arrest. Karoba’s family and human rights workers hold grave fears for his safety and freedom from torture.
Human rights sources have told West Papua Media that the Tolikara arrests are motivated in the interest of police promotion, by arresting innocent civilians and continuing to make victims of innocent Papuan civilians.
There is no indication as yet that the arrests are connected with a massive operation currently ongoing targeting National Liberation Army fighters under Goliat Tabuni, hunted after their killing of six Kopassus special forces soldiers on February 21. With independent media heavily restricted by the operation, details of sweep arrest of other civilians during the operation has been unverifiable, but local sources have reported that hundreds if not thousands of civilians have been detained or forced to flee from their villages during the operation.
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