Sweepings by security forces in Paniai spread anxiety among the civilian population

JUBI, 17 November 2011

The deployment of army and police forces including Brimob has spread anxiety and fear among the people in Paniai during the past week.

‘We haven’t left our homes for the past week, people are being questioned by the army as well as the police along a number of roads,’ said one person who lives in the area. ‘We have done nothing wrong but they have been going from house to house and this has made us very afraid.’

Following the searches in the houses of ordinary people, the military in Paniai confiscated bows and arrows, axes, knives and other sharp things belonging to the local people. The Justice and Peace Secretariat (SKP) in Dekenat, Timika, reported that not only had sharp implements been confiscated. ‘People’s homes have been searched very roughly indeed. In some cases, doors and windows have been badly damaged. This is very strange indeed because there are no problems with the local people so why are they behaving like this,’ said Father Oktopianus Pekei, co-ordinator of SKP Dekenat.

Some of the homes that have been badly damaged are in Kampung Kogekotu, Gakouda, Madi and elsewhere in the area. ‘The destruction has been encouraged by Brimob, Kelapa 2 Unit, Jakarta,’ he said, referring to the fact that there has been an increase in the number of Brimob troops deployed in the area in the past week.

SKP also regretted the arrogant behaviour of the Indonesian military. ‘Why is it that equipment used in people’s households, things for chopping up vegetables in the kitchen, or for building new homes, or for cutting down wood to burn in their houses are all being confiscated?’

Father Pekei said that the church would make public its support for the concerns of the people. ‘When things like this happen, the church cannot stay silent. This is all about the people’s right to life, the family and the vulnerable people in our society. This is the voice of the church,’ he said.

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