Police officers enter residential houses and arrest 21 indigenous Papuans in Dekai without a warrant

Joint security force members of the Damai Cartenz task force searched houses and arbitrarily arrested 21 Papuans in the town of Dekai, Yahukimo Regency, on 16 May 2023. The task force was formed to curb armed separatist groups in West Papua. All arrestees, among them three village chiefs, belong to the indigenous Ngalik Tribe. Representatives of the Papuan Regional Police (Polda Papua) claimed the arrests were related to the investigation of the killing of many non-Papuans, for which the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) has already claimed responsibility. According to the relatives, the police did not inform them about the reason for the arrest. Under Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Indonesia is a party, the arrests can be deemed arbitrary due to the lack of warrant and failure to inform the reason for the arrest. The arrestees’ relatives emphasised that they are not associated with the TPNPB.

The police raid took place in the Brasa residential area at 2:00 am. The police arrived in Brasa using two minivans and one police truck belonging to the Yahukimo District Police (Polres Yahukimo). The officers broke the front door and entered the houses while the residents were asleep. The arrests were conducted without showing a warrant and without verifying the suspects’ identities. Police officers seized 3.4 million rupiah (about € 210,-), traditional weapons, mobile phones, documents, a camera, computers, gardening tools, and t-shirts with Morning Star emblems, a symbol of cultural identity for indigenous Papuans. None of the personal belongings have been returned to the owners.

Following the arrest, indigenous Ngalik leaders, relatives, and their tribespeople came to the Yahukimo District Police Station (Polres Yahukimo) and demanded information about the allegations against the suspects (see images below, source: independent HRDs). According to the head of the Yahukimo District Police Operations Department, Alwy Wairooy, the police raided the houses because they were alleged hide-outs for TPNPB members.

While twenty suspects were released on 18 May 2023 (see photo on top, source: Suara Papua), one arrestee named Aminus Senik, 21, remains in detention. It is not clear whether the police have pressed charges against him, raising serious concerns about the due process of law.

List of persons arbitrarily arrested in Dekai, Yahukimo Regency, on 16 May 2023

NoNameAge (years)Additional information
1Yas Menegei39Yahopa Village Chief
2Yopinus Payage40Yerikho Village Chief
3Nus Gandeng34Bogum Village Chief
4Martinus Gandeng43 
5Sier Payage32 
6Natan Payage39 
7Babe Heluka  30 
8Aminus Senik21 remains in custody
9Temanius Payage35 
10Obet Heluka37 
11Ham Heluka47 
12Matius Menegei14 
13Paulus Gandeng32 
14Petrus Senik43 
15Elia Sigap29 
16Mianus Sigap50
17Kenis Menegei34
18Yonius Payage41 
19Emu Sigap31 
20Herman Giban28
21Hanus Lapie17

Village chiefs testifying about the raid and the personal belongings seized by police officers on 16 May 2023

People gathering at the Polres Yahukimo on 16 May 2023

Arrestees show damages after being released

Detailed Case Data
name of the location: Brasa, Dekai (-4.83846803623689, 139.49189925116156)
administrative region: Indonesia, Papua Pegunungan Province, Yahukimo Regency, Dekai District
total number of victims: 21
period of incident: 16.05.2023
perpetrator: other security forces
perpetrator details: Damai Cartenz task force
Issues: indigenous peoples, arbitrary arrest
Further HRM News:

NumberName, DetailsGenderAge Group AffiliationViolation
1Yas Menegei, Yahopa Village Chiefmale39indigenous arbitrary detention
1Yopinus Payage, Yerikho Village Chiefmale40indigenous arbitrary detention
1Nus Gandeng, Bogum Village Chiefmale34indigenous arbitrary detention
1Martinus Gandengmale43 indigenous arbitrary detention
1Sier Payagemale32 indigenous arbitrary detention
1Natan Payagemale39 indigenous arbitrary detention
1Babe Heluka  male30 indigenous arbitrary detention
1Aminus Senik*male21 indigenous arbitrary detention
1Temanius Payagemale35indigenous arbitrary detention
1Obet Helukamale37 indigenous arbitrary detention
1Ham Helukamale47 indigenous arbitrary detention
1Matius Menegeimale14 indigenous arbitrary detention
1Paulus Gandengmale32 indigenous arbitrary detention
1Petrus Senikmale43 indigenous arbitrary detention
1Elia Sigapmale29 indigenous arbitrary detention
1Mianus Sigapmale50indigenous arbitrary detention
1Kenis Menegeimale34indigenous arbitrary detention
1Yonius Payagemale41 indigenous arbitrary detention
1Emu Sigapmale31 indigenous arbitrary detention
1Herman Gibanmale28indigenous arbitrary detention
1Hanus Lapiemale17indigenous arbitrary detention
*remains in custody

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