Military secure clearing of customary land for the establishment of Papua Pegunungan Governor’s Office

The erection of the new Papua Pegunungan Governor’s Office is driving conflict within the indigenous community in the districts Welesi, Wouma, and Assolokobal in Jayawijaya Regency, Papua Pegunungan Province. On 27 May 2023, excavators cleared a vast area of customary land. The land-clearing operation was secured by dozens of armed military members and Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) special unit officers (see photos on top and below, source: independent HRDs). Members of the indigenous community in Welesei claim that the government has claimed the land without receiving the free, prior, informed consent (FPIC) of all customary land rights holders. On 9 June 2023, indigenous representatives of the affected communities in Welesi, Wouma, and Assolokobal reported the Vice-Minister for Internal Affairs, Mr Wempi Wetipo, to the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM).

The land conflict reportedly began in early 2023 with a meeting between Mr Wetipo, the appointed Governor Nikolaus Kondomo, the head of the local land agency, and customary leader Mr Yohanis Yelipele, on 6 February. Following the meeting, Mr Yelipele handed over an area of 108 hectares to implement the government’s plan. A last meeting occurred on 10 June 2023, in which Mr Yelipele announced that the deal over the customary land could no longer be disputed. He is now waiting for Indonesian Vice-President, Ma’ruf Amin, to inaugurate the building process.

Indigenous community members carried out dozens of peaceful protests since early February 2023. They disagreed with the government’s plans, demanded a re-negotiation over the customary land, and blocked access to the designated land. However, the demands were ignored by the government. Many fear that the size of ancestral land with which they will be left will not be enough to support future generations.

Military official, claiming that indigenous land rights holders in Welesi and Wouma have been consulted and have agreed to the construction of the office

Photos of the land clearing operation on 27 May 2023

Detailed Case Data
name of the location: a text string, if possible coordinates in brackets (-4.29, 138.18)
administrative region: Indonesia, Papua Pegunungan Province, Jayawijaya Regency
total number of victims: dozens
period of incident: 06.02.2023-10.06.2023
perpetrator: police, other security forces, government
perpetrator details:
Issues: indigenous peoples, cultural rights, food
Further HRM News:

NumberName, DetailsGenderAgeGroup AffiliationViolation
dozensunknownunknownunknownindigenouscultural rights