Paniai sweeps intensify misery under Indonesian control as security forces ban music and torture priest

by West Papua Media

March 6, 2013

Local residents in Paniai regency are bracing for more repression in sweep operations by Indonesian security forces after two separate incidents across the Paniai have intensified ongoing crackdowns on West Papuan independence sentiment, torturing a  local priest and even banning the possession of traditional music.

The latest crackdown, imposed in Paniai after guerrillas from Paniai commander Jhon Yogi’s Paniai unit of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-PB) were involved in armed engagements with the Indonesian army (TNI) and Police throughout February .

Reliable human rights sources in Paniai have reported to West Papua Media that an influx of joint TNI and police have “arrived with total war equipment” to bolster sweeps and raids across Paniai against civilians accused of holding pro-independence sentiments.

“In order to confront the TPN PB and on orders from President SBY, a brigade of TNI / Police have arrived with total war equipment. There were drops of TNI/POLRI in Paniai on 3 March 2013. The brigade arrived by 7 ‘Inova’ vehicles via the coast road,” the source told West Papua Media.

Helicopters belonging to illegal gold miners in Degouwo were again being used by Indonesian troops to support the operation, similar to the massive offensive against Paniai people during 2011 and early 2012, according to both human rights and church sources.

“A yellow and white helicopter owned by an illegal business in Degouwo at 13.00 WPB (west Papua time) made two drops of personnel and logistical war equipment. The first drop was to the Enarotali airport in Paniai district, and the second helicopter drop of the brigade forces together with war equipment was at Obano also, in the west of Paniai district,” the human rights source told West Papua Media.

Independent sources are also reporting that Indonesian colonial occupation forces are putting massive pressure on local civilians, with routine violations of civilian’s dignity, and arbitrary strip searches, that have created opportunities for brutality and torture on local people.

The notorious battalion 753 from Nabire has erected scores of “state of emergency tents” every 5-10 kilometres along the main road between Nabire and Paniai, according to witnesses. “TNI are carrying out very strict checking of everything. The TNI from unit 753 are undoing the clothes of every passenger in the area to check them including females. Advocacy and monitoring is requested,” said the human rights worker.

Military Destruction of traditional culture amounting to cultural genocide
Papuan independent media outlet Tabloid Jubi  has reported remarkable accounts of the extraordinary measures Indonesian police commandos from Paniai police headquarters are taking to destroy traditional Papuan culture by banning music.

Father Saul Wanimbo, the Director of the Commission for Justice and Peace (SKP) in Timika diocese, told Tabloid Jubi that during police sweeps, local people are being forced to hand over their mobile phones.  They analyse the memory cards on the mobile phones to find songs in Papuan language, and if the memory card is found to contain either one or many Papuan folk songs, police will smash the memory card with stones, according to Fr Wanimbo.

“The police are sweeping HP (Handphone) memory cards of Enaro society (people) for the last two months,” Wanimbo told Jubi, citing his own experiences and stories directly from Enaro residents from 1-20 Febrruary 2013.  Wanimbo said that Paniai people have been so demoralised that they just accept the oppressive actions of the occupation forces.

Wanimbo said that the actions by Police were killing three values:  “There is destruction of cultural values, murder of the people’s creativity, and character assassination.”

“The situation is conditioned in such a way so that people cannot resist. How can the people fight if the area has a variety of (security force) members lurking there,” Fr Wanimbo told Jubi.  The police acts were morally and legally wrong, police could not arbitrarily violate people’s privacy for no apparent reason, and such actions must be done with a warrant, he said.

“Paniai Police must explain the meaning of this sweeps. Or the Papua Police chief must stop the actions of the Kapolresnya (local police command) men in Enaro. This is serious. We can say it’s the beginning of the genocide, ” he said.

Priest tortured by police who then demand bribe for his release

Meanwhile, again in the Paniai regional centre of Enarotoli, local human rights workers have documented a serious case of torture of a local priest.  According to human rights workers attached to the Kingmi church, at 8.30 in the morning on March 2, Reverend Yunus Gobai (55 years) was arrested, threatened and tortured by local and Brimob commando police at the Enarotali (Kapolresnya) police compound in Paniai district.

According to the report received and confirmed by West Papua Media, as a result of beating Gobai’s nose was bleeding, his upper and lower lips were split and  bleeding, and he sustained abrasions on his hands, swelling on his forehead and cuts on his head, after which he he was put in a cell at the Police Sector command (Polsek) in Enarotali.

Family members went to request his release from the Police station, but the Paniai police demanded a bribe or ransom money to free him, according to the report.  Family members reported they were forced to gather money in order to pay the police, and a Paniai member of the DPRD directly handed over to police one million rupiah (about US$103) at Polsek Paniai.  Reverend Gobai was then released at 1030am local time, and taken straight home to his village by his family, according to the report.

Rev Gobai is the former pastor and head of the council of the community of KINGMI Maranatha Nabire. According to his family, after Rev Gobai became pastor of the community he suffered from (an undefined) mental disturbance together with epilepsy.  Gobai’s family reported that he would regularly be seen “shouting for no reason or running around shouting”.

Reverend Gobai was arrested after exhibiting these symptoms outside the police station in Enarotoli, causing his arrest, but police did not treat the issue as an illness and used unwarranted torture and inhumane treatment on the pastor, according to the report.

(WPM Editor’s Comment: Whilst the KINGMI report uses unclear terminology describing the pastor’s behaviour as “mental illness”, often random outbursts of unintelligible shouting and psychotic visions are perfectly normal and accepted behaviour of Christian pentecostal pastors, Muslim imans, Hindu holy people, and almost all other religious leaders and clerics across human history.  To arrest and torture someone for this behaviour is to ignore the experience of humanity.)

Paniai is no stranger to unrestrained Indonesian security force violence and torture against local people, primarily made up of members of the Mee tribe.  Previous offensives in the  Paniai since December 2011 have displaced tens of thousands of civilians, and burnt down hundreds of villages.  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.

West Papua Media

KNPB: Regional Police Chief Must Wipe Clean ‘Wanted Persons’ (DPO) list

Tabloid Jubi

Editor : Victor Mambor

January 6th, 2013

A spokesperson for the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) has claimed that the detention of a number of KNPB activists and the addition of more KNPB members’ names to the Wanted Persons List has been done purely in the interests of the Papuan political elite.

Photo caption: Wim Medlama (in blue hat) with Hakim Pahabol, West Papua National Parliament member, and KNPB members during their press conference.

KNPB stated that the political elite, along with the Regional Police Chief, are trying to place the blame activists and the broader Papuan community [for the lack of democracy].

“Papuan police are suppressing democracy in order to favour the Papuan political elite. It is in the elite’s interest that the people of Papua are being victimised. Many members of society and of KNPB have had their names added to the Wanted Persons List,” KNPB’s spokesperson Wid Medlama said during a press conference on Saturday (5/1), at the Cafe Prima Garden, Abepura, Jayapura, Papua.

KNPB are urging the Regional Police Chief to free a number of KNPB activists and remove their names from the Wanted Persons List. “Clear the names of all KNPB members and activists from the wanted list, and free those detained without clear evidence,” Wim said.

According to the KNPB, the people of Papua wish to have the freedom to fulfil their aspirations and to go about their lives without anyone having to suffer. Space for the people to express themselves collectively must be made available by the government. Without this space, the government cannot talk about a ‘democratic country’ or a ‘democratic society’.

“A democratic space is needed for the people of Papua. Without it, there is no point in [calling ourselves] a democratic nation. What is the meaning of becoming a democratic nation if there is no democracy for the people?” added Hakim Pahabol, a member of the West Papua National Parliament.

(Translated by West Papua Media translators)

Police kidnap pro-democracy activist in Biak: Reports

by West Papua Media from human rights workers in Biak

December 29, 2012

Unconfirmed Reports have emerged from Biak that Indonesian armed police have disappeared local Papuan pro-democracy activist Anthon Kafiar.

At 15:00 local time on December 28, 2012, outside the offices of the Supiori Regent, several heavily armed police officers used pistols to accost and bundle Anthon Kafiar into a Four Wheel Drive Vehicle Type Avanza, numberplate DS 900 DD.  The vehicle then drove off, and Kafiar’s whereabouts remain unknown, according to local human rights worker Dorus Wakum, from NGO Kampak Papua.

It is not yet known if the police were local police officers, or roaming members from the Australian-funded special anti-terror Detachment 88 unit, whose members have engaged in a campaign of kidnappings and shootings against Papuan pro-democracy activists since the appointment of new Papua Police Chief Tito Karnavian, the former commander of Densus 88.

According to the NGO, Biak citizens and witnesses visited the Kapolres (local Police Chief), the Supiori Regent and Supiori Council members to demand that Kafiar be immediately found and released.

This is a developing story.  More to come.


KNPB: Police Chief’s Statement Has No Legal Basis

April 3,2012

by Arnold Belau for

PAPUAN, Jayapura — The statement made by the Papua Regional Police Chief via the Deputy Regional Police Chief Brig.-Gen. Police Paulus Waterpauw in several media outlets on Tuesday (3/4), requesting that the Chair of West Papua National Committee (KNPB – Komite Nasional Papua Barat) Buchtar Tabuni take responsibility for protest action that was organized by KNPB on Monday (2/4), is evaluted to be without sound legal basis, and very premature.


This position was affirmed by KNPB (Vice-)Chair I, Mako Tabuni, who issued a statement to journalists at Prima Garden Café, Tuesday (3/4) in Abepura, Jayapura, Papua. In his statement, Mako clarified a few issues underlying KNPB’s rejection of the Police Chief’s reaction, given that from the start the Papua Regional Police failed to issue a letter acknowledging receipt of the notice for the action that was submitted by KNPB well in advance of the day of the demonstration.

“Papua Regional Police refused and did not issue a a Notice Receipt Letter, whereas we organized a peaceful demonstration featuring Papuan arts and culture, without violating the law of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia (NKRI – Negara Kesatuan Republik Indonesia), said Mako to journalists.

“Arrows and spears are part of the Papuan nation’s cultural toolkit, and even this was clearly stated in our notice letter to the Regional Police, so how does it make sense for them to see demonstrators carry these objects and then to ask KNPB to take responsibility?” said Mako.

According to Mako, since decades ago the legal system of NKRI has occupied the Papuan nation, and this is a form of modern colonization which the Papuan people know and understand.

For this reason, Mako continued, KNPB is legally guaranteed the right to demand a referendum in the land of Papua, because the presence of the Indonesian government in Papua does not accord with international principles and standards from a standpoint of law, human rights and democracy.

Because, continued Mako, “From 1961 to 1969 the status of the territory of Papua was included in the United Nations’ decolonization category”.

Mako also denied that by calling the Chair of KNPB the mass actions in Papua will be stopped.

“Go ahead and call the Chair of KNPB, or even decide not to issue a demonstration permit to KPNB, but we will still mediate the people of West Papua to convey their demands and actions by other means”, stated Mako who has in the past been a political prisoner.

Mako also regretted the coverage in a number of mass media outlets, which is consistently biased in its perspective, and always judges each demo action negatively.
“Coverage like that harms KNPB, and harms the people of West Papua, so we invite media in Papua to show some consideration”, asserted Mako hopefully.

Previously, yesterday, Monday (2/4) a mass of thousands responded to the KNPB call for a peaceful demo action to show support for the Nieuw Guinea Raad conference and launching of the Netherlands branch of IPWP (International Parliamentarians for West Papua) which took place Wednesday (5/4).

This event was coordinated by the Free Papua activist in Britain, Benny Wenda, and a group of international lawyers who are members of IPWP, with a number of Netherlands Parliament members in attendance.


Shootings, village burnings and helicopter attacks continue across Paniai



by Nick Chesterfield at

December 16, 2011

Harrowing accounts of terror and intimidation are emerging from villagers and human rights workers in the remote Paniai district in West Papua overnight, as a massive Indonesian military assault against National Liberation Army guerrillas continues.

Local human rights and church sources are reporting that ordinary villagers are being subjected to significant human rights abuses by a combined Indonesian police and military force, and have called for immediate international intervention in West Papua to stop the violence.

Over four full strength combat battalions of Indonesian army (TNI) Kostrad commandos from Battalion 753, Brimob paramilitary police, and elite counter-terrorism troops from Detachment 88 – all units armed, trained, and supplied by the Australian Government – were deployed in an offensive to surround the headquarters of the Paniai Free Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-OPM), under the command of General Jhon Yogi.

TPN/OPM headquarters Markas Eduda burning after TNI attack, 13/12/2011, Paniai, Papua
Paniai villages burning after TNI attack, 13/12/2011, Paniai, Papua
TPN/OPM headquarters Markas Eduda burning after TNI attack, 13/12/2011, Paniai, Papua

Punitive village burnings and raids are continuing in remote villages around the TPN/OPM headquarters of Markas Eduda.  At the time of writing, seventy-five houses, six schools, and about 25 other buildings have been recorded as burnt down in a total of 27 villages by Indonesian security forces.

Eighteen people are now confirmed dead – fifteen from gunshot wounds, and three refugees who allegedly succumbed to starvation in the so-called care centres under the control of security forces.  The victims’ names from the attack in Eduda are:


  1. Tapupai Gobay (30) was shot in the chest.
  2. Tawe Bunai Awe (30) head crushed*.
  3. Uwi Gobay (35) was shot in the abdomen.
  4. Wate Nawipa (25) was shot in the back.
  5. Martinus Gobay (29) head crushed*.
  6. Owdei Yeimo (35) was shot in the back.
  7. Ruben Gobay (25) was shot in the abdomen.
  8. Paul Gobay (42) was shot in the abdomen.
  9. Bernadus Yogi (23) was shot in the chest.
  10. Demianus Yogi (15) was shot in the back.
  11. Simon Kogoya (40) was shot in the abdomen.
  12. Simon Yogi (30) was shot in the head.
  13. Luke Kudiai (25) was shot in the chest.
  14. Alfius Magai (20) head crushed*

Note:  those with “head crushed” allegedly sustained these fatal injuries through severe beatings with rifle butts and “boot stamping”, according to sources


  1. Paschal Kudiai (15) hit by a bullet in the head.
  2. Martinus Kudiai (30) was shot in the hand.
  3. David Mote (40) was shot in the thigh.
  4. Amandus Kudiai (43) was shot in the arm.
  5. Yohan Yogi (21) was shot in the leg.
  6. Mon Yogi (20) was shot in the back.

Credible reports have also confirmed that two civilian “company” helicopters were provided to Security forces, and were allegedly used to drop live grenades and chemical dispersal weapons onto villages surrounding Eduda, and strafe villages with sniper and machine-gun fire on December 13, 14, and 15.  Several independent witnesses have claimed to West Papua Media, and reported elsewhere across social media, that the helicopters are well known in the area for local non-military operations.

"Company" Helicopter alleged by local sources to be used in Indonesia security force offensive in Paniai. Source claims photo taken on Dec 13 aas helicopter was circling group. This photo is not independently verified, however analysis shows the image is consistent with independent witness descriptions, and the terrain and weather conditions are consistent with other photos supplied. (West Papua Media source)

Witnesses interviewed by local human rights workers have claimed that at 0800 local time on December 13, the Company helicopter launched CS gas salvos into the village of Markas Eduda, the TPN headquarters, to flush out villagers and guerrillas.  According to a separate account sent to West Papua Media by TPN/OPM sources, the helicopters landed troops and occupied Eduda for most of the day, with guerrillas taking to forests in retreat.  In retaliation, TPN/OPM fighters shot at the helicopters, unsuccessfully, and several hours of intense fighting ensued which was suspended when Free Papua fighters witnessed many village houses and schools being simultaneously burnt in the surrounding area.  According to the TPN/OPM source, villages were set on fire around Eduda and gunshots were heard for the rest of the day and through the night.  Free Papua fighters have retreated to the forest and are awaiting orders for their next moves, according to the source.

Villagers from across Paniai are continuing to be displaced by the operations, forced to flee en masse into areas around Enaratoli, on the opposite side of Lake Paniai.  As reported on December 14 by West Papua Media, over 131 villages have been abandoned causing at least 10800 Paniai villagers to flee the military operations.

Church sources have further reported that refugees seeking shelter in the Enaratoli area are enduring worsening conditions without any relief.  Armed Indonesian security forces have established a police supervised secure “Care Centre” at Uwatawogi Hall in Enaratoli, and have crammed into it 1715 people from Kopabutu and Dagouto villages.  According to local activists in reports to West Papua Media, local residents are being threatened with arrest and beatings if they try to provide detainees with adequate humanitarian relief.  Police are also preventing people held at the hall from leaving for food or sanitation needs, according to sources.  At the time of writing, three people have died at the “care Centre” since December 9 from Diarrhoea.  They are :

  • OTOLINCEA DEGEI age 2 years , died 8:20pm, 9/12/11;
  • YULIMINA GOBAI Age 4, died 3pm, 14/12/2011;
  • ANNA DEGEI Age 47, died 1030pm, 14/12/2011.

No food, sanitation or medical aid has been made available by any government agency to give relief to this large number of internally displaced people.

Over 9000 refugees are either hiding in the forest or seeking shelter with their own extended families in the region area.  Those with their families are considered safe, however their needs and conditions are difficult to monitor and assess given their isolation

Local teachers have also been in contact with West Papua Media’s stringers.   Since 27 November 2011, teaching and learning activities have been suspended indefinitely in all village schools surrounding Markas Eduda.  Schools such as SD YPPK in Badao Dei, Yimouto, and Obayauweta villages have been suspended, as has Primary, Junior High, “shop” (trade school) and Elementary Instruction in the towns of Dagouto, and Uwani.  The students of these schools have been evacuated with their parents.

A teacher in junior YPPGI Uwani said while repression was occurring in the villages that: “For while we have closed the schools, because school children are frightened and fled with their parents. In addition, we as teachers do not feel safe to make teaching and learning activities. All the teachers have fled Paniai district, and to Nabire. “

On December 15, the army / police battalions have returned to the villages of Uwamani, Dei and Obaipugaida to prepare a major attack for a new phase of the campaign.  It is believed strongly by local activists that the “company” helicopter will still be used in addition to   Unconfirmed reports have been received by West Papua Mediathat the Indonesian arsenal against civilians in Paniai includes one Mil Mi-24 SuperHind gunship, one of two usually stationed near Jayapura.

650 Kostrad troops from Battalion 142 being deployed from Palembang to Paniai in Papua, boarding their troop ship on December 9, 2011

West Papua National Committee (KNPB) activists in Paniai reported on December 15 that after the assaults on villages, the Indonesian military forces are now arresting, intimidating and carrying out interrogation on all  residents across the districts of Toko, Kopabaida and Uwamani.   According the KNPB, Indonesian police have arrested scores of  children and adults, and are conducting brutal and physical interrogations and questioning from 11.00 am until the end of the day

The offensive was ongoing throughout December 15, with Indonesian security forces opening fire in many locations around Eduda.  Overnight, from 0200 to 0600, heavy gunfire erupted across the Degeuwo River valley.  Human rights sources in villages and also with refugees conveyed reports that people were being shot at by snipers if they were moving anywhere after dark, even to collect, food, water, or to secure pigs.  It is not known how many people were killed during the night, but local source are expecting the toll to rise.

According to a report provided tonight by a local pilot, Indonesian security forces shot eleven times into houses in the village of Gekoo, where mourners were gathering for a the funeral of a local man who died from illness.  Villagers alleged that some bullets even landed in their cooking fires, exploding their food pots.

Witnesses reported a series of helicopter raids from 11am on December 15, with helicopters being used to machine-gun the villages of Obaiyepa and Uwaman.  Human rights workers have been unable to access these areas to see if any casualties were sustained.

Unidentified village burnt down 13, dec 2011, near Eduda, Paniai

Helicopters landed at Eduda ceremony ground 11 times from 11:00 to 13:00 hours,  and residents suspect logistics, ammunition and additional forces were being deployed.

The area around Paniai has been long subject to conflict and heavy Indonesian  military offensives against civilians, however in recent months the Indonesian police have taken charge of punitive operations against West Papuans harbouring pro-independence sympathies.   The conflict has recently escalated over land rights and the control of local gold mining operations, with Brimob deeply involved in both joint venture security, and direct involvement in gold businesses and associated activities. The Australian gold mining company Paniai Gold is also operating in the Degeuwo River region.

Indonesian soldiers in Paniai, December 2011

Civilians in the foothills are in panic and reliving the trauma of past operations, according to the report from a local pilot.  “They are concerned emotions again will open in Wegeuto  of the 1982 war Memoria Passionis (memory of suffering) and again when the Army conducted ongoing military operations (DOM – Daerah Operasi Militer) from  1989-1993 across the Badauwo area, near Eduda, ” the source said via email.  He explained that during the last DOM period the army accused and stigmatised civilians as being  members of the TPN-OPM, and subsequently tortured thousands of villagers.  Human rights sources at the time documented villagers being waterboarded / tortured for 24 hours;  residents’ houses burned, raped girls and married women, extrajudicial killings, burning off fingers, moustaches and beards,  pulling fingernails and quartering villagers with armoured vehicles.  Troops also conducted burning and destroying food gardens, killing livestock and pets, and fouling water supplies.

Residents are concerned that the current angry and emotional behaviour by the TNI-police toward TPN / OPM will be vented on civilians living on the slope of the hamlet Wegeuto especially, directly adjacent to Markas Eduda.  In a message delivered to West Papua Media local villagers have pleaded for International Advocacy to get Military and Police immediately withdrawn from Eduda and Paniai in general.

Much trauma is being felt by civilians across Paniai as a result of the offensive.  Independent journalist Sonny Dogopia, from  Papuan Voices ,  interviewed local villagers by telephone on December 14.   Magda Tekege, a housewife from Deiyai District, said civil society is very scared and depressed. ” Here also TNI / Police beat us and put us under surveillance, and are one full alert status, ” she explained.   Deiyai Magda called the situation unusual , “this is probably due to invasion by TNI / police in Paniai, therefore Deiyai also suffer the effects.”

Reports from Tuesday described the exercises that the Australian trained, funded and armed Brimob Gegana unit, upon arriving in Enaratoli proceeded to take over the streets immediately, causing normal town life to be immediately disrupted as local people emptied the streets to hide.

On December 6, Human rights, church sources and local activists had independently claimed that 542 people have been forcibly evacuated by troops from the Special Gegana Brimob “Counter” terrorist police unit.  The villages of Dagouto and Kopabatu and surrounding hamlets in the Dagoutu Paniai district were evicted after the Gegana unit decided it wanted to expand a new headquarters facility to deploy in the offensive against Jhon Yogi, the local leader of the armed guerrilla unit of the National Liberation Army (TPN-OPM).

The Gegana unit, a specialised elite anti-terrorist unit of the Indonesian police has been deployed heavily across Papua to crackdown on pro-independence activists engaged in non-violent resistance, as well as to eliminate the armed struggle groups.  Gegana is one of several elite Indonesian police units that receives arms, funding, and training from the Australian Government, and was blamed on December 3 for burning down a church and school in Wandenggobak, in the highland regency of Puncak Jaya.

As this article was going to press, an update was received from a trusted human rights worker in Paniai.  “At 2300 in the evening, Brimob Coconut Battalion 2 burned down buildings of Paniai Districts’ tourism assets, located in Bukit Dupia, in the same location as the Regent’s residence.  This evening in Paniai the situation is very tense”.  TPN fighters reportedly have returned fire on the attack and heavy fighting is still occurring,

The situation is ongoing and developing and West Papua Media will continue to closely monitor events.

Please urgently help us continue this work.  @westpapuamedia ia working tirelessly to end impunity in Papua with effective journalism. But we need your help  – PLEASE DONATE NOW

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