New police raids in Maybrat Regency in October 2022 – at least nine villagers arrested

Human rights defenders documented the arbitrary arrest of at least nine villagers in the Maybrat regency, where the police carried out raids (see photo on top, source: independent HRDs) in the districts Aifat, Aigat Timur Tengah, and Aifat Selatan on 14 October 2022. While the number of arrests varies among sources, the Papuan Association of Human Rights Lawyers (PAHAM Papua) confirmed that most arrestees were released within 24 hours, while 14-year-old Manfret Ky, Mr Yanwaris Sewa, and Mr Jefry Aifat remained in custody. Some sources claim that the number of arrestees reached 24, including women, elderly persons, and children. All arrestees were detained at the Sorong Selatan Police headquarters.

The spokesperson of the Papua Barat Regional Police, Officer Adam Erwindi, confirmed the arrest of only two persons, namely Mr Yanwaris Sewa and Mr Jefry Aifat. Mr Sewa is accused of being involved in an armed attack against a military post in Kisor on 2 September 20221, which resulted in the deaths of four military personnel. Mr Yanwaris Sewa’s name was on a police search list, while Jefry Aifat was taken into custody because he allegedly resisted police officers during the arrest.

It must be assumed that the police will continue to carry out raids in the Maybrat regency as the police are searching for ten more suspects in reaction to the armed attack. Following the incident, the police compiled a list of 21 suspects, mainly consisting of members of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), a movement organisation promoting the right to self-determination through peaceful means. As of late November 2022, the police arrested eleven suspects concerning the attack on the military post, said officer Erwindi during a media interview.

Human rights organisations have widely criticised the trials against ten suspects concerning the case. A series of breaches, including torture, obstruction of lawyers, and other violations of the right to a fair trial, characterised the law enforcement process against them. Seven suspects, including at least one minor, have received long-term imprisonment sentences between eight and twenty years. Three other defendants are currently standing trial at the Sorong District Court. One of them, Mr Abraham Mate, died on 2 November during detention at the correctional facility in Sorong City, Papua Barat Province. The trial against him was still ongoing (see images below, source: Jubi and Suara Papua). The cause of his death remains unclear. According to relatives, Abraham Mate was not in Kisor Village at the time of the incident.

Table of villagers arrested during a police raid in the Maybrat Regency on 14 October 2022

NoNameLocation of arrestAgeAdditional info
1Yanwaris SewaSusumuk Village, Aifat District29 yearsPolice suspect for alleged involvement in the attack on Kisor military post in September 2021
2Jonathan AssemFaan Kahrio Village, Aifat Timur Tengah Distict40 yearsEmployees of logging company PT Bangun Kayu Irian (BKI)
3Gerardus FaanFaan Kahrio Village, Aifat Timur Tengah Distict40 yearsEmployees of logging company PT Bangun Kayu Irian (BKI)
4Leonardus KamatFaan Kahrio Village, Aifat Timur Tengah Distict56 yearsEmployees of logging company PT Bangun Kayu Irian (BKI)
5Simon KamatFaan Kahrio Village, Aifat Timur Tengah Distict39 yearsEmployees of logging company PT Bangun Kayu Irian (BKI)
6Jefry AifatKisor Village, Aifat Selatan District34 yearsKisor villager
7Zadrak AyahKisor Village, Aifat Selatan District40 yearsKisor Villager
8Karel SaaKisor Village, Aifat Selatan District50 yearsKisor villager
9Manfret KyKisor Village, Aifat Selatan District14 yearsKisor villager

Photos of Abraham Mate`s body and the burial ceremony

Detailed Case Data
name of the location: Polres Sorong Selatan (-1.4460378750808258, 132.02171169798586)
administrative region: Indonesia, Papua Barat Province, South Sorong Regency
total number of victims: 24
period of incident: 14.10.2022
perpetrator: police
perpetrator details: unknown
Issues: arbitrary detention, indigenous peoples
Sources:
Further HRM News: https://humanrightspapua.org/news/2021/indigenous-peoples-flee-their-homes-in-fear-of-military-raids-in-maybrat-regency-papua-barat-province/, https://humanrightsmonitor.org/news/whats-wrong-with-the-indonesian-justice-system-trials-in-maybrat-provide-an-insight/

NumberName, DetailsGenderAgeGroup AffiliationViolations
1Yanwaris Sewamale29indigenousarbitrary detention
1Jonathan Assemmale40indigenousarbitrary detention
1Gerardus Faanmale40indigenousarbitrary detention
1Leonardus Kamatmale56indigenousarbitrary detention
1Simon Kamatmale39indigenousarbitrary detention
1Jefry Aifatmale34indigenousarbitrary detention
1Zadrak Ayahmale40indigenousarbitrary detention
1Karel Saamale50indigenousarbitrary detention
1Manfret Kymale14indigenousarbitrary detention