Tag Archives: Brigade Mobil (Indonesia)

Indonesian forces maintain widespread military assault on villagers in Paniai, West Papua

By Nick Chesterfield and local sources at Westpapuamedia.info

Special report and update

January 14 2012

Local human rights monitors report from the remote Paniai district of West Papua that Indonesian security forces continue to maintain a “disproportionate” military offensive since early January, intensifying the displacement of tens of thousands of villagers who fled from several weeks of village burnings in December.

Indonesia’s Australian trained Detachment 88 counterterrorism troops and Brimob paramilitary police together with Indonesian army battalions, are continuing to conduct search, capture and cordon missions on the villages in the hunt for the forces of a National Liberation Army (Tentara Pembebsan Nasional or TPN) commander Jhon Yogi.

This is despite Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyhono ordering the immediate suspension of the offensive and withdrawal of all non-organic security forces from Paniai, when meeting with West Papuan church leaders on December 12 at his residence in Bogor, West Java.  No firm date for withdrawal was given.

Papua Police spokesman Wachyono, told the Jakarta Globe that 481 Brimob and Densus 88 members deployed in Papua from Jakarta, East Kalimantan and North Sulawesi would leave Papua by January 23.  However West Papua Media understands from sources on the ground that these troops will significantly escalate the pace of attacks on civilians in the lead up to the departure.  Local human rights sources have further questioned the ability of independent monitoring of this withdrawal when the Indonesian government is continuing to enforce an access ban on media to the area.

Yogi’s forces have consistently avoided capture since the offensive began, despite sustaining significant casualties.  This continued escape and evasion has raised pertinent questions from observers on the real aims of the Indonesian security force offensive, in an area that has extensive gold deposits and a brutal history of land use conflict triggered by a lucrative “legal” and illegal gold trade.  Several foreign gold mining companies continue to operate in the area during the offensive, and Brimob police and assets, that have been contracted to provide mine security to these companies, are continuing to be utilised in the ongoing offensive.

The systemic excessive force by Brimob and Indonesian security forces working for foreign mining interests are again under the spotlight across Indonesia after Brimob troops were recently caught on video uploaded to Youtube opening fire on a protest on behalf of another Australian gold mining company Arc Exploration in Bima, Sumbawa.  At least 3 protestors were killed and 11 seriously wounded as local residents held a non-violent protest against the destruction of their village lands by the gold mine.

Credible information during the Paniai offensive has been incredibly difficult to verify due to the continuing Indonesian government ban on all journalists and foreign observers from coming to the area.  Indonesian journalists covering have not been able to access the district either, despite article claiming that they have been present.  However, stringers for West Papua Media, human rights monitors from Elsham, church officials, and witnesses have been able to get close to the area to report on the situation, which by all accounts in worsening for civilians.  Indonesian security forces however are continuing to block any independent access to the immediate conflict area around the former TPN headquarters of Markas Eduda to verify or rule out human rights abuses, and most reports are still coming from interviews with refugees who have fled from the fighting.

West Papua Media has repeatedly attempted to contact spokespeople for the Indonesian police operating in Paniai, however no replies have been forthcoming.

Church* and Human rights sources have claimed that security forces are continuing to indiscriminately target civilians in the campaign, and have embarked on a policy of village and church burnings. According to detailed reports provided to West Papua Media by investigators, Brimob and D88 troops have burnt down 29 churches, 13 primary schools and 2 junior schools, and 13 villages have been destroyed over the New Year period.  The razed villages are spread out across the south and west of Wegamo, and in Ekadide areas.

Local witnesses interviewed by human rights observers have reported that civilian helicopters have again been used in the intensified security offensive, with allegations that two helicopters belonging to mining companies operating in the area have been again used by troops to continue to strafe villages, drop live and gas grenades and ferry troops into the fighting areas.   Multiple witnesses confirmed that one of the helicopters was a civilian Squirrel AS355 previously implicated in attacks, and identified formally with a helicopter identification sheet provided to West Papua Media stringers and human rights workers.

On December 21, West Papua Media published allegations that an Australian mining Company was supplying helicopter support to the security operations, having contracted Brimob paramilitary police to be used as mine security.  Incredibly, the management of West Wits Mining and Paniai Gold continue to refuse to make comment or denials on the explosive allegations.

According to the report received, around dawn (0600) on the morning of January 1, 2012, A civilian Squirrel (pictured)

The AS355 Squirrel helicopter used by Brimob on December 13, and allegedly used over the New Year Paniai offensive (File: West Papua Media)

helicopter conducted what the report describes as “surgery” (surgical military strikes) on Wege mountain, and was used to ferry troops between White Sands and the now-occupied former TPN headquarters of Markas Eduda.  Villagers in the White Sands area have been forcibly evacuated by Brimob troops and are still unable to return.

Hana Degei (37), Jemi Gobai (26), Oktolince Degei (20), Menase Kayame (41), Mabipai Gobai (18), Silpa Kayame (32) all from Dagouto, and Peter Kudiai, a 14 year old school student from Badauwo were all confirmed killed by Brimob and D88 troops in the New Year offensive, adding to the toll of those killed during December’s operations.

In the report, church sources stress that full extent of deaths from the Paniai offensive is still being shrouded by deliberate obfuscation and cover-up from Indonesian security forces.  “The full death toll from the armed clashes between Brimob and the TPN we do not know, because our religious and community leaders have been refused access to the Eduda conflict area,” the report states.  “Thus, we also have not been able to collect (exhaustive casualty) data which is accompanied by clear facts.  Perhaps Brimob forces and TPN knows how many are wounded and dead due to gunshot wounds, (but) all the information is still closed to the public,” the report claimed.

Local sources have also expressed concern for the longer term humanitarian situation across Paniai when and if the offensive finishes, due to the deliberate village burnings.  According to both church sources, Brimob and D88 deliberately destroyed and burnt food gardens across the offensive area, and burned down fences designed to keep livestock out.  Surviving cattle have been moving freely and have eaten whatever food plants have survived the destruction, stoking fears of starvation for already stressed and displaced local villagers

Together with villages forcibly evacuated as reported in December, over 150 villages are now vacant, displacing at least 9000 civilians.

Indonesian officials have blatantly misrepresented the scale of displacement, claiming that only 1715 were displaced and all those “temporarily evacuated” were being supported at a military controlled “care centre”.  This number is failing to take into account those who are in grave fear of the security forces running the “care centre”, and those who are staying with extended families and/or tribal networks.  So far the 1715 have not been able to return to their villages, and their conditions at the “care centres” are deteriorating from already grave conditions, according to local observers.

An Indonesian health worker who has been in Enaratoli during the offensive, and who declined to be identified publicly after contacting West Papua Media privately via SMS, described the situation as extremely tense and a human disaster.  He also expressed concern, from his observations and conversations with displaced locals, that there seems to be a wider plan from Indonesian security forces for the long-term.

“Everyone here knows that Brimob are in the gold trade across Paniai, doing business for and with both orang bule {white man} and Javanese, and now they are clearing people whose villages are on top of the gold diggings” the health worker told West Papua Media – in English – in an SMS exchange.  “This human disaster is happening, and we are part of it, but who has ordered it?   Is it just the police looking for golden scrapings, or is someone richer telling them to do it?”

West Papua Media has not been able to fully verify the authenticity of this source’s claimed identity, given the security risks of identifying them publicly speaking out.

The Paniai region has had a long and brutal history of land use conflicts between the Indonesian colonists and local people, mainly stemming from the illegal gold trade.

The church human rights investigations have also reported that all normal community activities in the conflict are have ceased, with those churches and schools not yet burnt by Indonesian security forces closed indefinitely, and local employment has also ceased – further exacerbating the humanitarian disaster in Paniai.

*Due to the danger faced by local church officials from Indonesian security forces in reporting these facts, West Papua Media has made a difficult decision to not identify either the church sources, nor their denomination.

West Papua Media

Troop deployment to Paniai must stop

JUBI, 3 January 2012
Responding to reports from the community in Paniai that additional troops are still arriving in Paniai, the deputy chair of the Majelis Rakyat Papua said that this must stop

Venetina Koyoga said that according to the most recent information from Paniai, additional troops continue to arrive there while local people are reported to be evacuating from the area.

‘According to information we have received from the people there, the inhabitants of two kampungs have already evacuated. We are checking these reports but if they are indeed true, I would like to stress that no more troops should be sent there,. This must stop so as to ensure that the people there can live in peace, instead of what is happening now. Let us all sit down together, the Governor, the MRP and the DPRP, and agree to a good solution.’

If there is any increase in the number of troops, there should be coordination between representatives of the people in the province, such as the governor, the DPRP and the MRP. If there is no such coordination, the people there will continue to feel threatened,’ she said.

‘I very much regret the fact that there have been acts of violence against people living in Nabire, Puncak Jaya, Ttimika and other places in Papua. We should all sit down together and find the best solution to the problems there. The deployment of troops should end and those troops already there should be withdrawn.’

Update on military operations in Paniai and Australian involvement

Alex Rayfield

22 December 2011

Human rights defenders in Paniai report that searches were recently carried out in the Badauwo, Geko and Kinouv area of East Paniai. Shooting was also heard in the vicinity of Mt Wege.

Local human rights defenders remain adamant that Australian and U.S trained and funded Detachment 88 police and military counter terrorism troops are still involved in the search for John Yogi, the Paniai based commander of the West Papuan Liberation Army (or TPN as it is known in Indonesian).

On Tuesday 20 December in Nabire the Head of Police (Kapolres) in Paniai, Mr Siregar urged John and Salmon Yogi to give themselves up. A local Brimob commander also told local press and community leaders gathered at the Nabire police station that Salmon Yogi had been wounded.

According to a source present at the meeting the Brimob commander said that military operations “would continue until John and Salmon Yogi and the men under their command either surrendered, were arrested or were shot dead”. The police commander also told people not to be scared; that the police would protect them and that they would be still be able to celebrate Christmas.

The Office for Justice and Peace in Paniai reports that Yogi has six men under his control and a total of two firearms. It also believed that the men’s wives and children are also with them.

The town of Enarotali is also not safe. Church leaders report that there has been shooting in Enarotali. The latest gunshots occurred on Tuesday 20 December at 6pm and again on Wednesday 21 December at 1am and 5am. A local church leader told West Papua Media that “local people are scared and in a state of panic”.  A woman whose family lives in Enarotali told West Papua Media that her uncle went to the toilet at night and was shot and wounded by a sniper.

Despite the ongoing military operations human rights defenders, church, tribal and community leaders in Paniai are publicly calling for the Indonesian military and police to cease operations.

In relation to the alleged involvement of the Australian mining company Paniai Gold, it has now come to light that there are two gold mining companies operating in the area. Komopa (or Haji ARI – the exact name is still unclear) is believed to be an Indonesian owned company located in the vicinity of the Degeuwo River. Paniai Gold, a wholly owned Australian subsidiary of West Wits, is based on Derewo River.

According to local sources at 2pm on Tuesday 21 December the police again hired a commercial helicopter to carry out military operations. In a report provided to West Papua Media it is stated that the helicopter used on the 21 December was owned by the Haji ARI Company. In the same report it is alleged that the military and police flew over a camp (a blue tent) in the forest and proceeded to shot into the camp from the helicopter.

It is not clear to what extent the two companies share the use of the helicopters used in recent military operations against the TPN, given they allegedly share the same base in Nabire.

There are many unanswered questions about the military operations and extent of Australia’s involvement.

A key question concerns whether Indonesian military and police (including Brimob) providing security services to Paniai Gold were involved in the large-scale military operations against the West Papuan Liberation Army based at Eduda, and to what extent the Australian embassy helped facilitate Paniai Gold’s operations.

And despite Canberra’s denials that Australian and U.S. trained and funded D88 troops are involved in hunting down so-called separatists, there is mounting evidence that this is exactly what D88 are doing in West Papua. Papuan human rights defenders and their supporters continue to argue that Australian and U.S. support for the Indonesian military only help “create more efficient human rights abusers”. Despite this, the Australian government conducts no independent monitoring and evaluation of Australian taxpayer’s money provided to the Indonesian military.

There are also concerns about the role of the local and central government. Papuans are asking questions about who is funding the military operation. What is the role of the local Bupati and local government? Why won’t the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhuyono cease operations when it is clear that ordinary villagers are dying as a result and that Yogi and his men have only two modern weapons between them?

West Papua Media, an independent media outlet working with a local network of citizen journalists, will continue to monitor the situation.

Australia Involved in Military Operations in Paniai, West Papua

EXCLUSIVE REPORT FROM WEST PAPUA MEDIA

21 December 2011

Alex Rayfield

Human Rights Defenders in West Papua accuse the Australian Government and an Australian-owned mining company, Paniai Gold, of being involved in ongoing military operations in Paniai, West Papua.

Mr Ferry Marisan alleges that the Australian-trained Indonesian counter-terrorism unit Detachment 88 (also known as Densus 88 or D88), is involved in ongoing military operations in Paniai.   According to Marisan, the Director of Elsham Papua, the Institute for the Study and Advocacy of Human Rights in West Papua, the  joint police and military D88 have been embedded in the Second “Coconut” (Kelapa Dua) paramilitary Police Force (Brimob) sent from West Java for military operations against suspected members of the West Papua Liberation Army (or TPN), based at Eduda, Paniai.

According to Mr Yones Douw, a human rights defender based in Paniai, D88 are currently being deployed against members of the TPN in a jungle warfare operation. John Yogi – the Paniai based commander of the TPN – and his men, believed to number a few dozen, fled into the jungle following an attack on his base in Eduda by the Indonesian military and police between the 12-15 December.

Marisan says that in total 30 people have died during the latest round of violence in Paniai Seventeen people were shot dead during the military operations in Eduda.  Only ten of these victims were members of the TPN, according to Marisan.   Between the 9th and 14th of December a further three people died, all from exposure related sickness.  Amongst the dead were two children aged two and four. Prior to the military operations Brimob also shot dead eight Papuans. Yogi’s men responded by killing two Brimob soldiers, an event that triggered the recent military operations.

In addition Elsham Papua reports that the following six villages were burnt to the ground: Toko, Badawo, Dogouto, Obayoweta, Dey, and Wamanik. As a result of the violence Marisan says that up to 20,000 people have fled their homes. ”They are living in government care centres, or staying with family and friends.  Many have also fled to the forest” says Marisan.

SBS Radio reported that a spokesperson from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says that the “Australian Government does not train or fund Indonesia’s security forces to counter separatism.”

Irrespective of the training that both the Australian and U.S government’s say they provide to D88 , both Douw and Marisan claim that group is being used in military operations against so-called separatists.  “Many of the victims in these operations” says Marisan, “are not members of the TPN, they are ordinary Papuan villagers who are supposed to be protected by the state”. D88 was also allegedly involved in the killing of six Papuans at the conclusion of the Third Papuan Congress on October 19.

D88 is not the only link between Australia and the recent wave of violence.

According to both Douw and Marisan, helicopters used at the Derewo River Gold (DRG) project were utilised by the Military and Police in these latest military operations. DRG is operated by Paniai Gold, a fully owned subsidiary of Melbourne based gold mining company West Wits Mining. A local source, requesting anonymity, told West Papua Media that the helicopters are those used by the mining company. “They are white with blue and red markings” the sources said. “They are defiantly mining company helicopters.”

The person responsible for Paniai Gold’s operations is Mr Vincent Savage, a Non-Executive Director of West Wits. According to publicly available company documents “Mr Savage has been intimately involved in all governmental and regulatory issues involving the Derewo River Gold Project as well as working closely with the Company’s local Indonesian partners.”

These same documents state that “security [for the DRG Project] will be provided by the local Paniai police and Brimob (Indonesian paramilitary police) under the supervision of a Company Security Officer”.

West Papua Media attempted to contact Mr Savage for comment, but he was not available.

The 2011 November-December military operations are not the first military operations in the area. Paniai was the scene of widespread military operations between 1963-1969, 1977-1978, and again in 1981-1982. During this period U.S. supplied Bronco aircraft were used to bomb villages while helicopters strafed Papuans with machine gun fire.

“People don’t forget these things easily” says Douw.

KAMPAK Papua Condemns Police Beating of Human Rights Activist and Legal Aid Lawyer

by Oktovianus Pogau at PAPUAN VOICES

(translation, editing by West Papua Media)

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2011
Dorus Wakum, human rights activists and Kord Papua Axe (Photo: Papuan Voices)
 Jakarta — Indigenous Papuan Communities Against Corruption  in Papua (KAMPAK) condemned the beating of human rights activists and lawyers from Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) by Jakarta Police Mobile Brigade, yesterday afternoon, Saturday (17/12) at the YLBHI Office.
Dorus Wakum, a Papuan activist from KAMPAK, in a media interview on  Sunday (18/12), said that the beating incident must be followed up, and unscrupulous Brimob brutality must be prosecuted according to the law.
“If you need to fire corrupt Chief of Police and Mobile Brigade members , because they have clearly committed brutal acts against human rights activists,” he added. Dorus explained that after the incident, police and intelligence officers continued to keep the office of the Legal Aid Foundation under surveillance, and also to block access to the KontraS (Commission for the Disappeared) office on Jalan Borobudur KontraS, Menteng , Central Jakarta.
“This has caused great anxiety for civilians who live around the KontraS  and YLBHI offices.  They (officers) keep passing by with full weapons deployed” .  Dorus said for three days armed forces have been monitoring all activists, and human rights lawyers activities in these two offices.
 “The Metro Jaya police chief should withdraw his officials from around the office YLBHI and KontraS right now,” he said.  The beatings of human rights activists and lawyers from YLBHI lasted until about 05.00 pm yesterday afternoon.
Occurring directly outside the YLBHI office.  a lawyer named Sidik admonished some of the Mobile Brigade officers who were at YLBHI offices without a warrant.  Not thankful for being reprimanded, Sidik was hit directly behind by some Mobile Brigade officers.  At time of writing the beating complaint has not been followed-up the Jakarta Police.
WEST PAPUA MEDIA note:  KontraS, a highly respected Indonesian human rights NGO, has been highly critical of Jakarta’s abuses and military approach to dealing with Papua, and it’s lawyers are regularly targeted by security forces for representing victims of abuse.