Tag Archives: Eduda

Sound of gunfire greets Christmas in Paniai

JUBI, 23 December 2011
[Slightly abridged in translation from Indonesian]Illustration: Group of Paniai residents who left their homes because they were afraid of the shooting

There’s no sound of church bells or people singing Christmas carols. Just the sound of gunfire has been heard in Eduda every evening. The sound of gunfire in the dark of night spreads fear among the people, including those living in Enarotali which is 8 kms away

‘For the past week, we have been hearing gunfire from the direction of Eduda. Is this the sound of open warfare between the TPN/OPM and the Indonesian police? It should stop when people want to celebrate Christmas,’ said Yafeth Kayame, the head of the Mee people in Enarotali.

It is now just two days to Christmas, a time when people are preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. ‘We should be singing sacred songs. But this is not what we are hearing, just the sound of gunfire as Christmas approaches. Please, help us to stop the fighting between the TPN/OPM and the Indonesian army. People want to celebrate Christmas,’ he said.

Hearing the sound of shooting around Eduda only spreads fear among the people. Some people who wanted to return to their kampungs even though things are not yet tranquil have decided not to return.

The gunfire was heard one day after an operation against Eduda, the headquarters of the TPN/OPM, by the police command in Paniai. ‘On Tuesday evening at around 6pm till late at night, gunfire could be heard, lasting for about two hours until one or two in the morning. Then it stopped but began again at 5 in the morning,’ he said.

During the day, a helicopter flew here from Madi and landed in Eduda.They said they were bringing logistics for the Matoa special unit, now operating from the former TPN/OPM base. The helicopter also encircled the area above Mount Wegeuto, possibly making observations from the air about the presence of John Magai and Yogi who have both fled into the forests.

‘The sound of gunfire made the people even more panic-stricken and they fled their homes,’ said Yafeth Kayame.

A Papuan human rights activist, Yosias Yeimo, has called on both sides to stop the fighting ahead of Christmas. ‘Among the people of God Almighty, there should be no more fighting so that people can celebrate Christmas in peace,’ he said.

The people living in Eduda and several nearby kampungs cannot celebrate Christman in their homes like they were able to do last year. The Protestant and Catholic communities have been disrupted by military operations that have been going on for the past month.

The local police chief also spoke about the security situation because of the military operations.’ It isn’t true. The situation is conducive. The situation in Paniai is calm. Stop spreading issues that only create panic,’ Jannus Siregar told journalists two days ago.

‘ I call on the people to return to their daily activities because the situation here is quite normal and people can celebrate Christmas. We are not hunting for civilians, still less are we shooting anyone dead. We are just doing our duty which is to chase the OPM, and this has led to the capture of John and Salmon,’ he said.

Translated by TAPOL

Australia Involved in Military Operations in Paniai, West Papua


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.

Human Rights Commission urges police chief to withdraw his troops from Paniai

JUBI, 17 December 2011The National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) has urged the chief of police  to immediately withdraw his Brimob troops  from the district of Paniai and not to send any more troops there.

This request is made in a letter signed by the deputy head of Komnas HAM, M. Ridha Saleh, which is a follow-up of the complaint made by   the chairman f the Regional Traditional Council (DAD)  in Paniai several days ago. He said that the complaint  was made  because of two recent incidents involving members of the police force. One was shooting in the vicinity of the copper-and-gold mine in Degheuwo which led to the death of a civilian and the other relates to the situation following the dispatch of 150 additional Brimob troops who arrived in Enarotali  on 11-14 November 2011

In the second place, the Brimob post which was set up in the midst of several kampungs. should be removed.

Thirdly, to immediately conduct an investigation into what caused the death of Mateus Tenouye. Fourthly, to restore a conducive situation so as to enable the people in the district of Paniai to go about their daily activities.

And fifthly, to speedily hold dialogue with all parties involved in conflicts and to help the community to resolve problems that have occurred in the district of Paniai.

‘This request is in accordance with the authority rested in Komnas HAM according to Article 89, para (3) of Law on Human Rights 39/1999,’ the letter said. Copies of the letter have been sent to the chairman of Komnas HAM, the chief of police in Papua based in Jayapura and to the Paniai chief of police in Madi.

Komnas HAM very much hopes that the situation of the people in Paniai will be more conducive, bearing in mind that all people have the right to live in peace and tranquillity and to be protected against threats of fear, in accordance with article 15, para (30) of Law 39/1999.

Komnas HAM also calls upon all people to do everything possible to safeguard a conducive situation for people living in Paniai.

‘The chief of police needs to re-evaluate  the policy of sending additional  Brimob troops to Papua, particularly to Paniai. His troops must be withdrawn  because the people there are very upset, especially because of the attack on Eduda several days ago which has only intensified these fears and are having a significant impact   because people are unable to organise activities  in preparation for Christmas Day which is fast approaching.’

At the present time, there are hundreds of Brimob troops and police in Eduda, which is the headquarters of TPN/OPM, after managing to occupy the area.

Calls for the withdrawal of these troops  have also be made by others, especially since, in the past couple of days, operations in the area have intensified  in an attempt to hunt down the group of John Magai Yogi, who recently moved into the forest.