Internal Displacement and arbitrary arrests due to armed conflict in Yahukimo Regency

New armed clashes in the Dekai District of Yahukimo Regency erupted after TPNPB fighters killed an Indonesian migrant on 20 February 2023 (see photos below, source: independent HRDs). Multiple attacks against security force members followed.

TPNPB Commander, Elkius Kobak, published a video (see video below) in which he claimed responsibility for the killing of a security force member in the Seredela District on 29 February, the killing of one security force member during an attack on a security post in Dekai on 1 March 2023. Three others were injured during the attack. Two Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) officers were killed during a raid in Dekai Town on 2 March 2023.

More TPNPB attacks took place on 8 March 2023, costing the lives of two non-Papuans. On 11 March 2023, TPNPB members opened fire at a civilian aeroplane. TPNPB commander, Elkius Kobak, justified the attack claiming that military members had used the Trigana-owned civil aircraft to come to Dekai. The TPNPB continued launching attacks on public facilities. On 13 March 2023, TPNPB members burnt the Inpres (YPK)  Metayona Dekai Yahukimo Elementary School, and on  16 March, the SMPN 2 Dekai Junior High School to the ground. According to a TPNPB press release, Indonesian education facilities would spread Indonesian state ideology among the Papuan youth, hampering them from developing a political consciousness of Papuan history and culture.

On 16 March 2023, security force members evacuated hundreds of non-Papuan residents from Dekai. The evacuation was likely conducted to prevent civilian fatalities as a result of armed attacks and outbreaks of horizontal mass violence, as it had happened previously in the town of Wamena in response to a security force operation. The military used a Hercules military transport aircraft to fly the people out of Dekai (see photos below, source: independent HRDs).

Following the attacks, joint members of the Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) and the 1715 Yahukimo Military command conducted raids in the district of Dekai and the surrounding area (see photos below, source: independent HRDs). The raids were accompanied by 22 arbitrary arrests of indigenous Papuans. According to information received, joint security forces arrested eight Papuans inside a residential house at Statistik Street between kilometres four and six on 11 March 2023.

Six persons were again arrested in residential houses on 12 March 2023, and four further suspects on 15 March 2023. As of 17 March 2023, the police released nineteen arrestees, while three remained in police detention (see table and photos below, source Kingmi Papua Church). It is currently not known whether the police will press charges against them. Human rights defenders said that the security force members carried out arrests and searched residential houses without showing warrants as required under the Indonesian Criminal Procedure Code (KUHAP) and international human rights treaties.

On 2 March 2023, Papuans living near Gunung Street in Dekai reportedly fled their homes. According to information collected by human rights defenders, at least 469 indigenous Papuans fled their houses, fearing security force violence and arbitrary arrest. Some temporarily moved to relatives living in neighbouring areas, while others fled into the forest. According to information received, security force members damaged and seized people’s personal belongings, including traditional weapons, tools, motorcycles, and money. One-hundred-twenty-six houses were abandoned. Over 50 domesticated animals, such as pigs and chickens, were left behind. HRDs documented six houses damaged during the armed clash and the subsequent raid (see photos below, source: independent HRDs).

Detailed Case Data
name of the location: Dekai (-4.8703793601995224, 139.49897874175318)
administrative region: Indonesia, Highland Papua Province, Yahukimo Regency, Dekai District
total number of victims: 22
period of incident: 11.03.2023 – 15.03.2022
perpetrator: other security forces
perpetrator details:
Issues: indigenous peoples, arbitrary arrest
Further HRM News:

NumberName, DetailsGenderAgeGroup AffiliationViolation
1Er Helukamale20 indigenousarbitrary detention
1Natan Sigapmale30 indigenousarbitrary detention
1Tinus Sigapmale25 indigenousarbitrary detention
1Menase Senikmale30 indigenousarbitrary detention
1Menius Helukamale26 indigenousarbitrary detention
1Naptalis Sigapmale22 indigenousarbitrary detention
1Daud Matuanmale50 indigenousarbitrary detention
1Antonius Helukamale19 indigenousarbitrary detention
1Bonius Payagemale21 indigenousarbitrary detention
1Mr Aminus Payagemale22 indigenousarbitrary detention
1Erinus Senikmale15 indigenousarbitrary detention
1Yemese Helukamale17 indigenousarbitrary detention
1Eliaser Helukamale30 indigenousarbitrary detention
1Pius Helukamale23 indigenousarbitrary detention
1Edison Gibanmale23 indigenousarbitrary detention
1Natan Payagemaleunknownindigenousarbitrary detention
1Antois Gibanmaleunknownindigenousarbitrary detention
1Salos Balinggamaleunknownindigenousarbitrary detention
1Riwanto Helukamale40 indigenousarbitrary detention
1Habel Payagemale30 indigenousarbitrary detention
1Yakobusmale29 indigenousarbitrary detention
1Panuel Helukamaleunknownindigenousarbitrary detention