Tag Archives: Waghete

Tragic Bloodshed in Waghete, Papua – Suspected Serious Human Rights Violations

Analysis/ Opinion

by Selpius Bobii

Abepura Prison,  27 September 2013

Ever since West Papua was annexed into the Republic of Indonesia on 1 May 1963, it has been nothing other than a land smeared with blood, and at every moment the blood of Papuans has been shed by continuous killings.   On 23 September 2013 there was yet again bloodshed with a tragic incident in Waghete, Tigi district, in Deiyai Regency of the Central Highlands.  The incident started from ‘sweeping’ (house to house searches) carried out by joint armed forces of BRIMOB (an Indonesian National Police special operations unit), and a special unit of the Indonesian Military (TNI) unit 753, the Paniai District Police and local police from the Sub-District Units of Tigi and the Paniai Koramil.  The following article looks in detail at the background to why this incident occurred and at the impact of the incident on the local community.

When asked why the joint armed forces were carrying out sweepings in the area in the first instance, the High Commissioner for Police in the District of Paniai responded that they were making the area safe for civilians from the practices of gambling, drunkenness and the carrying of sharp objects (www.tempo.co/read/news/2013/09/23/058515978). However the facts clearly indicate that the sweepings were being carried out not to make the area safe for civilians against the said vices of drunkenness and gambling, but rather to:

  1. Confiscate any sharp instruments including all types of smaller knives, large machete like knives, axes and bows and arrows
  2. Confiscate shovels
  3. Confiscate mobile phone memory cards with photos of those active in the Papuan Freedom Movement
  4. Confiscate traditional woven dillybags (nukens) with patterns of the Morning Star flag, and to
  5. Target community members with dreadlocks and long beards.

Of course the very items that the armed forces confiscated during the sweeping – small knives, larger machete type knives, axes and shovels – are those used by the community for maintaining their gardens which is their source of food.  As in the Deiyai regency most civilians are farmers who farm the mountain slopes. The forces even confiscated any traditional darts, which are something which by customary beliefs cannot be separated from the life of the Mee Tribe as they are symbolic and special to that tribe. That they would even consider confiscating the peoples carrying bags and mobile phone memory cards with Papuan photos is a shameful reflection of the police and military, as those are symbols of Papua that are widely available and have been published in many books, media and other publicly available forms.
The TNI and police are well aware the people need those tools in particular to survive and they well know those items are widely accessible, so the question begs why did they really intentionally undertake operations to confiscate these items?

The targeting of civilians with dreadlocks and long beards –  based on the false perception of the police and military that anyone of that appearance is a member of the TPN /OPM – is also a shameful reflection of the thinking of the armed forces, as long beards and dreadlocks are an age-old tradition of Papuans.  The Indonesian police and military should understand and respect something of the cultural and social ways of the people of Papua such that they don’t recklessly carry out arbitrary actions which can lead to the sacrifice of innocent civilians’ lives. Reckless and improper actions which  also destroy the image of the police and Indonesian army in the public eye. Throughout the many years of Indonesia’s presence in Papua police, TNI and National Intelligence (BIN) have always assumed that Papuans with dreadlocks and long beards are all TPN OPM members. Whenever met with people with those physical characteristics the armed forces always act with improper and cruel actions intended to make life hard for those individuals. This is absolutely unreasonable! We could just as much say that every Papuan who longs for liberation from the cruel oppression of Indonesia could be called OPM!  When is Indonesia going to wake up to the reality that that no action whatsoever of the Indonesian military and police against the people of Papua will ever be able to destroy the Mambruk (Papuan) ideology in their hearts; that their cruel actions will never be able to stifle the political aspirations embodied by the Papuan movement for freedom.  Reckless,  cruel and improper actions by the armed forces such as occurred at Waghete must stop!  The forces instead need to adopt persuasive approaches (with dialogue and non-violent means)  in facing up to civilians in all circumstances and not use repressive measures such as has been evidenced at Waghete.

The events that led to the killing and wounding of civilians that day in Waghete started with the above stated sweepings which were being conducted in a manner that was far too excessive and abusive.  A particular activist present at the time (who cannot be named for safety reasons ) told the armed forces at the time that the community didn’t accept their excessive sweeping actions, but to no effect. They testified that before the shootings on 21 September 2013 the joint armed forces had carried out sweepings and detained 15 Papuans who had dreadlocks and long beards. Then on 23 September 2013 the forces returned to the same location where those persons had been arrested and carried out sweepings yet again with excessive abusive behaviour.

It was the second aggressive sweeping according to the witness that was just too much, and some in the community couldn’t keep silent.  He testified that it was not the adults who voiced the community’s protest but rather high-school and upper secondary school students together with a number of other youth. The armed forces had also confiscated some of the young peoples’ phone memory cards then according to the witness the young people protested in particular after seeing two Papuan mothers on their way to  their gardens having their gardening shovels confiscated then an adult male’s koteka (penis sheath) being checked by forces.  The witness stated: “The protest came from the school children and no adults were involved.  Then the police responded to their protest with excessive violence. The Head of the Paniai District Police a number of times shouted out a command to those under his command to shoot the children.  I was there at the time and saw myself the Head of the District Police together with police officers under his command, chasing and shooting at the school children with their weapons. That day I also heard there were 4 civilians detained.”

The Police spokesperson claimed that the disturbance occurred due to provocation by a group of supporters of a particular failed candidate in the local government elections. However another activist at Waghete (who also cannot be named for security reasons) testified that “the tragedy at Waghete was entirely due to the actions of the joint Indonesian police and military forces and cannot be said to be connected in any way to a problem of the local elections.”

This accusation by the police was just a strategy to try and  turn criticism back towards the local civilian population.

The facts are clear that it was the military and police that provoked the civilians into carrying out some type of protest in response to their excessively abusive treatment of the people  during the sweeping and their arbitrary arrest and detention of a number of community members. The forces then met the young people’s opposition with extremely excessive violence including shooting, killing, arbitrary arrest, and torture of civilians. If there had not been excessively abusive sweeping by the joint armed forces in the first instance then of course there would never have been opposition from the young people. Secondly if the response from the civilians had not been dealt with so repressively by the police and military then of course there would also not have been victims of  shooting, torture, intimidation and arbitrary arrest. In summary it was precisely the excessively abusive sweepings by the military and police that triggered the reaction from the civilians; It was precisely the repressive reaction from the armed forces to the civilians’ opposition which caused the tragic killing and serious shooting injuries of civilians in Waghete.

In considering whether there is any element of truth in the police’s accusation that civilians attacked them with rocks, or pieces of timber or arrows, a human rights activist Yohanes Mote who was present at the time of the shooting stated to the magazine Selangkah, “At the moment the incident occurred I was there. The community didn’t take up arrows. We were really disappointed that they were checking the penis sheaths of the men (traditional clothing of males). As there’s nothing inside penis sheaths but male genitals is there. We asked them why if they wanted to carry out sweeping because of gambling and drinking (alcohol), had they not stopped the drinking and gambling.  The gambling and drinking had been allowed to continue by the police so that through that we Papuans could be killed and shot like this.”, (www.majalahselangkah.com/content/penembakan-pelajar-di-deiyai-aktivis-ham-minta-kapolri-copot-pelaku-dan-evaluasi-polisi-di-papua).

Another activist who also can’t be named for security reasons testified “The students didn’t attack the armed forces with arrows. I only saw two or three students throw rocks in the direction of the armed forces but the rocks didn’t even hit them. Rather the police and military brutally shot those children. The one that shot Alpius Mote was an aide of the Paniai Head of Police. Alpius died on the spot as the bullet went right through his right side and came out his back. He didn’t die whilst being taken to the Paniai hospital (as the police claimed). Whilst regarding Alex Mote (another victim), the bullet entered the right side of his chest. After Alpius was shot dead the police gathered up all the bullet cartridges. I couldn’t take a photo at that moment as it would have been impossible.”

From the explanations of these two activists who were present at the time of the sweepings and shooting, it is clearly evident that the accusation of the police that the community attacked them was merely words to try and justify their own repressive actions of wounding and killing unarmed civilians. It is most ironic that the Papuan Provincial Police spokesperson also tried to legally justify the police and TNI’s actions, stated that the shooting by their forces was in line with their procedures since the citizens were becoming increasingly anarchist. He tried to justify the shootings on the basis that if the forces hadn’t fired then the situation would have escalated (www.news.viva.co.id/news/read/446352-bentrok-aparat-dan-warga-di-papua–1-tewas).

Returning to the initial action of the forces – being the sweeping – one must ask the question why were the police and TNI carrying sweepings out in such an excessively abusive manner in the first place. From the facts provided by witnesses as stated above, it would seem that the sweeping was intentionally carried out in such a way so as to give rise to some type of conflict in Waghete. The sweeping was not intended to make the community safe from vices of drinking and gambling as the police claimed, but rather to give rise to a conflict that would enable the armed forces to do away with those in the community with long dreadlocks and beards who were considered by the forces to be OPM/TPN members. The sweepings also provided an opportunity for them to confiscate any items that were symbolic of the freedom struggle. It was an intentional act carried out to make people terrified and to torture, kill and injure innocent civilians at that location.

Witnesses testified that on 21 September around 15 people with dreg locks and long beards were violently arrested and detained at the Paniai District Police Command headquarters. Then on 23 September one student was shot dead and another shot in the chest. An English teacher from the local Deiyai upper secondary school Yance Pekey who voiced opposition to the treatment by the armed forces, was also inhumanely ‘dealt with’ at his office. It is understood he was also detained together with the other 3 civilians at the Paniai District Police Station. From data available to date it is understood that the total of civilians detained over these few days was 19. To the date of writing their names have not been made available by the police and neither has access been allowed  to visit any of them. (For the preliminary report to this incident  see: www.westpapuamedia.info/2013/09/27/preliminary-report-into-waghete-deaths-and-sweepings/).

From the above stated detail the Writer concludes that the tragic events from 21 – 23 September 2013 in Waghete involved a number of serious human rights violations. Violations which commenced with the excessively abusive sweeping and harassment by the military and police; followed by the arbitrary arrests, torture,, shooting dead and wounding of citizens and the general terrorising of the local community in Waghete. The actions of the police and military cannot be justified with any reason whatsoever! The tragic killing and wounding of unarmed civilians that occurred fall within the category of serious human rights violations and the culprits must face legal processes and be held responsible (1).

Footnotes

 1)To that end the Writer puts forward the following recommendations to those parties involved:

i) That the TNI and Police in the land of Papua must cease carrying out excessive sweepings and terrorising/ intimidating the people, must cease all torture and other brutal treatment of civilians, all shootings, killings and arbitrary arrests.

ii) That the culprits of the acts at Waghete must be brought to justice in the human rights court or general court to hold them responsible for their actions.

iii) That the Head of the Indonesian Police is strongly urged to immediately remove from office the Head of Police in the Sub-District of Tigi, The Head of the District Police in Paniai and Head of the Papuan Provincial Police. As all three persons have acted irresponsibly and are not capable of ensuring the safety of citizens.

iv) That the Head of the Paniai District Police immediately and unconditionally release all citizens (believed to be 19 in number) who are being arbitrarily detained at the Paniai District Police Station.

v) That the Investigation Team appointed by the Papuan Legislative Council (DPRP) on 25 September 2013 to look into the tragedy in Waghete,  immediately be sent to the location of the events  to commence investigations.

vi) That the Indonesian Republic National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM RI) immediately form an adhoc team to follow up the early findings that will be reported by the independent DPRP Investigation Team.

vii) That all parties and in particular the local government, leaders of the church and  traditional customary leaders in that region, act immediately to restore security and order in Deiyai.

viii) To all those who are concerned and who work in the field of humanitarianism, your help is requested at this immediate time in advocacy, monitoring and publishing of information regarding this case and in organising assistance for those civilians who have been detained at the cells of the Paniai District Police Station.

ix) The excessively abusive sweepings, the terrorising and intimidation, the torture, shootings, killings and arbitrary arrests of indigenous Papuans by both the Indonesian military and police in the land of Papua will never bring an end to the problems in Papua. The Indonesian Government needs to instead enter into dialogue / unconditional negotiations with the nation of Papua facilitated by a neutral third party and held in a neutral location in order to find a dignified solution to the problems in Papua.

Selpius Bobii is the General Chairperson of Front PEPERA & a Papuan Freedom Political Detainee in  Abepura Prison, Jayapura

 

Preliminary report into Waghete deaths and sweepings

Report compiled by Selpius Bobii in Abepura

September 26, 2013

On Monday 23 September 2013 in the town of Waghete which is the main town of the region (kabupaten) Deiyai (district Tigi) at 11.30 am local time, an action of violence by the Indonesian armed forces causing death and bloodshed of unarmed civilians occurred. The incident arose as a result of arbitrary sweeping carried out by joint forces of Paniai based BRIMOB (‘Mobile Brigade’ being an Indonesian National Police special operations force unit), Paniai regional Police together with Indonesian military Unit Timsus 753 (TNI) based at the Paniai Koramil (Regional military headquarters). The sweeping was carried out under the command of the Head of the Paniai Regional Police High Police Commissioner Sammy Rony.

The target of the sweeping which included confiscation of items was as follows:

  1. Sharp weapons including smaller knives, larger (machete type) knives, axes and bows and arrows;
  2. Hand shovels;
  3. Mobile phone cards for checking of any activist photos or other photos related to the Papuan Freedom movement such as the Morning Star Flag;
  4. Civilians with long dreadlocks or long beards, who are all suspected by the Indonesian armed forces of being members of the TPN/OPM (these persons were to be detained).
Waghete villagers mourning the police murder of priest’s son Alpius Mote

During the sweeping the Police detained 15 people based on nonsensical reasons, and at this time they are all incarcerated in the jail cells at the Paniai District Police Command headquarters. These include a female by the name of Alfrida Dogopia. They were detained under conditions of torture, intimidation and insult carried out by the TNI Timsus (Tim Khusus or Special Team unit from Kopassus special forces)unit, BRIMOB and Paniai regional police.

The local community responded to the above by protesting to the local police. The Head of the District Police commanded those under him to shoot any civilians that protested to the operation. Accordingly BRIMOB, ordinary police and the TNI joint forces responded to any behaviour of protest by civilians with extremely excessive violence by shooting civilians. The consequence was 3 civilians were shot by members of BRIMOB in the Waghete field (open grassed area in the town) at approximately 11.30 am local time.

The shooting victims were as follows:

  1. Alpius Mote, a student at the Deiyai Upper Secondary State School in Waghete, child of the local Church Minister Daud Mote. He was shot dead. The bullet entered on the right side of his chest and went through exiting his back.
  2. Alex Mote, a youth from Deiyai was shot. He is presently being treated at the Paniai Hospital.
  3. Yance Pekey, an English Teacher from the Deiyai State Upper Secondary School. News is that he was shot and beaten at the school offices and at this time is being detained at the Paniai Police District Headquarters.

The local community didn’t accept the actions of the joint armed forces and considered them to be extremely excessive. The body of the shooting victim was taken to the police offices by community members  at 19.00 hours and the police were asked to take responsibility for the death.  Until this moment the Waghete community is still struck by fear by the events that occurred.

According to the Head of the Paniai District Police High Police Commissioner Sammy Rony, the sweeping was carried out to make the area safe for civilians and intended against those who were in the practice of gambling, getting drunk and carrying sharp instruments. According to Rony property of local government was damaged as a result of the drunkenness. He said the disturbance had started five days before the shooting incident. “Since last Wednesday a group of people  have done damage to a number of houses of government officials in the town of Waghete, including that of the Deiyai Region Bupati (i.e. Head of the local regional (kabupaten) government) Dance Takimai and of the Kabupaten Secretary Basilius Badii” stated Rony.  He claimed that the damage to the officials’ houses was suspected to have been carried out by a group of supporters of a certain candidate for the bupati position that failed to be elected in the recent elections for the head of the Deiyai Kabupaten. “So in this there is an influence from alcohol and also problems regarding local elections” Rony stated to a journalist from Tempo, Jerry Amona.

According to the Head of the District Police Command the alleged culprits of the damage to the officials’ houses who were also suspected of intentionally starting the commotion at the time of the mobilisation of the joint police and Indonesian military armed forces to carry out the sweepings through the town of Waghete. “ Suddenly a group of people arrived and attacked our forces, hitting them with pieces of wood. I immediately gave the order to shoot” he stated (source: m.tempo.co/read/news/2013/09/23/058515978).

According to the spokesperson for the Papuan Provincial Police AKBP Sulityo Pudjo Hartono, the conflict between the civilians and the joint armed forces occurred at the moment the sweeping was being carried out to “make the area safe from a number of social sicknesses including gambling, drunkenness and carrying of sharp implements”. According to Hartono, the civilians didn’t accept the raids and there was even provocation with civilians throwing rocks at the armed forces, who responded by shooting into the air.  However according to Hartono, the civilians were becoming increasingly anarchist even to the point that one of the military was hit, so the joint forces fired in the direction of the civilians shooting one civilian. Hartono stated that the citizen shot critically aged 25 years was evacuated to the Paniai hospital, however he died before arriving at the hospital.

The spokesperson for the Papuan Provincial Police tried to justify the act of the police from a legal perspective, stating that the shooting of the forces was in accordance with procedure as the civilians were increasingly anarchist. He said if they hadn’t fired the actions of the civilians would have developed into something bigger (source: www.news.viva.co.id/news/read/446352-bentrok-aparat-dan-warga-di-papua–1-tewas).

However the a local activist at Waghete, Yohanes Mote, contradicted the statement of the Police that the community attacked the joint armed forces.  According to Mote, the community did not attack the police (BRIMOB and ordinary regional police) and TNI with arrows, wood or otherwise, but rather it was the police and TNI carrying out the sweeping with excessive use of agression that caused the disturbance amongst the community.

“I was there at the location at the time it happened. The community was not using arrows and did not attack in any way.  We were disappointed about the way the police were carrying out the checking operation to the point that they were even checking inside the koteka (i.e. traditional penis sheath worn by males) of men.   As there can be nothing possibly inside a koteka other than the male genitals. So why did they have to check inside the koteka? We want to ask why did the police not confiscate and ban the drinking of alcohol and gambling! It’s the alcohol and gambling that kills Papuans but they (armed forces) didn’t ban those, but rather acted to annihilate our people”  Yohanes Mote, human rights activist in Waghete.

To respond to this bloody tragedy, youth and students of Papua in Jayapura have united to form ‘In Solidarity and Concern for the Shooting of the State Upper Secondary School’ and carried out a demonstration on the office of the Papuan Parliament (DPRP) on 25 September 2013.  The student demonstration was received by the Chairperson of Parliamentary Commission (A) Ruben Magai together with a member of Parliamentary Commission (D) Nason Utty, where the students demanded the Head of the Indonesian National Police to remove from office the Head of the Papuan Provincial Police, the Head of the District Police in Paniai and the Head of the Sub-District Police Command, being those 3 persons being responsible for the Waghete incident. The students also demanded that those responsible for the shooting be forced to face transparent legal process and strongly urged the Papuan Parliament to immediately form an Investigative Team to look into the case at hand.  Together with a number of representatives from the student demonstration the DPRP this date formed an Investigative Team for the Bloody Tragedy at the Kabupaten of Deiyai.  It is planned that in the immediate future that this team will travel to Deiyai to gather accurate data from all parties involved at Deiyai (source; www.sindonews.com/read/2013/09/25/26/787221/gedung-dprd-papua-diduduki-mahasiswa).

In regard to this same incident, the community demanded that the Head of the Paniai Kabupaten Police who gave the instruction to shoot at the civilians and the member of BRIMOB who carried out the fatal shooting be required to face legal process as they have both committed serious human rights violations. It was requested that the Head of the Indonesian National Police that the Head of the Tigi Kecematan (i.e. Sub-District) Police, the Head of Paniai Kabupaten Police and the Head of Papuan Provincial Police all be stood-down from their positions as they were all assessed as not acting responsibly.

It is also hoped by the community together with the youth and students that the Deiyai Case Investigative Team that has been formed by DPRP in Jayapura would go immediately to the District of Tigi in Waghete to gather accurate data that can be trusted in relation to this incident.

Reported by: Selpius Bobii, General Chairperson – Front PEPERA –

(NOTE: WPM HAS CONFIRMED ALL FACTS IN THIS REPORT)