Security force members torture five minors in Puncak Regency – One victim dies two days later

Human rights defenders have documented a further case of state violence against minors in the conflict-ridden West Papuan highlands. Security force personnel reportedly tortured five minors (see table below) in the Sinak District, Puncak Regency, on 22 February 2022. One of the children succumbed to his injuries, while the others were brought to the Mimika regency for medical treatment (see photos below). Military representatives claimed the case is currently being investigated by the military police.

According to information received, Private Kristian Sandi Alviando, a member of the 521/Dadaha Yodha infantry battalion deposited his automatic firearm in a small post at construction company PT Modern near the Tapulinik Airport in Sinak. The weapon was allegedly stolen while Private Aliando was watching television.

Following the theft of the firearm, military personnel conducted raids in the vicinity of the airport in Sinak and the Kelemame village. The five children were reportedly arrested as they were watching television inside storage owned by construction company PT Modern. All of them are enrolled in the primary schools in Sinak and Kelemame. Soldiers reportedly tortured the five children before bringing them to the local police station in Sinak Sub-District Police station (see table below). Police officers reportedly continued the torture during police detention. One of the children, Makilon Tabuni, passed away on 24 February 2022 as a result of the injuries he sustained during the torture.

Images of the Makilon Tabuni’s burial ceremony (see photos below) quickly spread across social media and tracked the attention of Indonesian authorities. The spokesperson of XVII/Cenderawasih military command, Kolonel Inf Aqsha Erlangga, declared in an interview with media outlet Jubi that the Indonesian military had filed a lawsuit against Mr David Murib, a teacher who had posted the photos on his social media account. Erlangga called the post fake news and elaborated that the police will investigate the teacher for alleged violation of the Indonesian Law on Electronic Information and Transactions (UU ITE).

Background

Cases of state violence against minors are common in West Papua. On 1 March 2022, UN  human rights experts expressed serious concerns about the deteriorating human rights situation in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua, citing shocking abuses against indigenous Papuans, including child killings, disappearances, torture and mass displacement of people.

The pattern of cases indicates that such incidents particularly often occur in relation to security force raids in villages that are mainly populated by indigenous Papuans. The security force violence is closely related to the racial discrimination among Indonesian security forces and the stigma that indigenous Papuans are supporters of political independence and somehow associated with the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB). All victims of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances in West Papua throughout 2021 were indigenous Papuans. This finding reflects the continuing pattern of state violence, violations of the right to life and the persistent racial discrimination that indigenous Papuans face in Indonesia.

Joint security forces arrested and tortured six internally displaced Papuan villagers on 28 September 2021 in the Kokas Village, Maybrat regency. Four of the arrested villagers are below the age of 18 years and still join junior high school. They are Robi Yaam (15 years), Lukas Ky (14 years), Paulus Ky (16 years) and Gidion Waimbewer (11 years). Security force members beat them during arrest and detention. Some reportedly vomited blood as a result of the torture. Their hands were tied behind the back and their eyes blindfolded with duct tape.

Armed clashes between Indonesian security forces and the TPN PB in Intan Jaya’s largest town Sugapa on 26 October 2021, resulted in the death of a two-year-old infant, Melpianus Sondegau. Six-year-old Yoakim Majau sustained a bullet injury during the incident. Both victims were inside their houses during the armed clash but were hit as the bullets pierced the roof and wooden walls. Witnesses testified that the shots came from the direction of the military command (Koramil) in Sugapa.

NoNameAgeAdditional information
1Derson Murib12 was kicked and beaten with a butt to the chest, head, face, back and both sides of the ribs, a military member dragged him on the floor causing bruises and abrasions on his body, was transferred to the Mimika General Hospital on 24 February 2022
2Gitelmar Kuluwu15was kicked and beaten with a butt to the chest, head, face, back and both sides of the ribs, a military member dragged him on the floor causing bruises and abrasions on his body; received medical treatment at the Sinak Health Center (Puskesmas Sinak) and was allowed to go home on 28 February
3Piki Wanimbo10was kicked and beaten with a butt to the chest, head, face, back and both sides of the ribs, a military member dragged him on the floor causing bruises and abrasions on his body; received medical treatment at the Sinak Health Center (Puskesmas Sinak) and was allowed to go home on 28 February
4Yanto Murib9was kicked and beaten with a butt to the chest, head, face, back and both sides of the ribs, a military member dragged him on the floor causing bruises and abrasions on his body, received medical treatment at the Sinak Health Center (Puskesmas Sinak) and was allowed to go home on 28 February
5Makilon Tabuni13was kicked and beaten with a butt to the chest, head, face, back and both sides of the ribs, a military member dragged him on the floor causing bruises and abrasions on his body; he passed away on 24 February 2022 as a result of the injuries he sustained during the torture
 Table with minors tortured in Puncak Regency on 22 February 2021

Photos of injured victims and cremation of Makilon Tabuni

Detailed Case Data
name of the location: POLSEK Sinak (-3.805869256794429, 137.84603386157553)
administrative region: Indonesia, Papua Province, Puncak Regency, Sinak District
total number of victims: five
period of incident: 22.02.2022
perpetrator: police, other security forces
perpetrator details: unknown
Issues: arbitrary arrest, torture, extra-judicial killings, indigenous peoples
Sources:
Further HRM News:

NumberName, DetailsGenderAgeGroup AffiliationViolations
1Derson Murib, studentmale12indigenousarbitrary arrest, ill-treatment
1Gitelmar Kuluwumale15indigenousarbitrary arrest, ill-treatment
1Piki Wanimbomale10indigenousarbitrary arrest, ill-treatment
1Yanto Muribmale9indigenousarbitrary arrest, ill-treatment
1Makilon Tabunimale13indigenousarbitrary arrest, ill-treatment, extra-judicial killing

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