Police shooting triggers civil unrest in Dogiyai – Three Papuans killed, six others injured with bullets

A series of alarming events, including a disturbing pattern of unlawful shootings and outbreaks of horizontal violence, unfolded in the Dogiyai Regency, Papua Tengah Province, on 13 July 2023. The events unfolded shortly after members of the Damai Cartenz Special Police Unit shot dead twenty-year-old Mr Yosua Keiya (see photos on top and below, source: Kingmi Papua) in the morning of 13 July while standing on the roadside in the Obayo Village, Kamu Utara District. The officers reportedly gave no warning and released shots from a white vehicle, which left the scene at high speed after the shooting.

The arbitrary execution triggered a chain of events that led to further violence and civil unrest in the towns of Moanemani and Ekemanida, Kamu District. Following the killing, indigenous Papuans burnt down 71 stores and houses owned by non-Papuans, as well as government buildings. Joint security forces started patrolling the towns of Moanemani and Ekemenida to disperse the crowd and regain control of the situation. Joint security forces reportedly shot dead two more indigenous Papuans. Mr Yakobus Pekei, 21, was shot with a sniper rifle (sniper positioned at the airport tower) in Moanemani towards Ekemenida, Kamu District. Mr Stepanus Pigome, 19, was shot in the right thigh and died of blood loss. Mr Pigome’s shooting took place in Moanemani, entering from Kimupigu Village.

As security forces dispersed the crowd in Moanemani, bullets injured six other Papuan civilians. Mr Daud Yobe, 23, and Mr Fredi Yobe, 17, were allegedly arrested and tortured during detention at the local police headquarters. Three police officers were reportedly injured by arrows. In Ekemanida, a group of Papuans reportedly stabbed a driver named Ibrahim with a knife. On 14 July 20221, joint security force members and non-Papuans reportedly burnt down 21 houses of indigenous Papuans in the village of Kimupugi, Kamu District (see video below, source: ELSHAM Papua).

Witnesses stated that the police officers shot dead Mr Keiya without reason. Prior to the arbitrary killing of Yosua Keiya, two young men were sitting by the roadside in Obayo. One of the men fled the scene as a brown Hilux vehicle approached. Yosua Keiya was standing nearby, observing the incident as the Brimob officers suddenly opened fire at him without warning or prior communication. The projectile hit Mr Keiya on the right side of the chest. He died at the site of the crime (see photo below, source: JPIC Kingmi Papua). The incident sparked widespread outrage among the local population, leading to spontaneous acts of retaliation, including attacks against police and military headquarters, as well as the burning of shops and stalls owned by non-Papuans.

On 17 July 2023, the victims’ relatives victims expressed multiple demands to the local authorities. They called upon the police to investigate the shootings and hold the perpetrators accountable. The case should be processed through national human rights mechanisms. The relatives also demanded the withdrawal of the military forces from Dogiyai.

The police claim that the shooting of Yosua Keiya occurred as a group of unknown perpetrators attacked Damai Cartenz police task force members in their car. According to the spokesperson of the Papua Regional Police (Polda Papua), Commissioner Ignatius Benny Ady Prabowo, the perpetrators tried to rob a weapon during the attack. On 19 July 2020, Commissioner Prabowo denied in an interview with Papuan media outlet Jubi that the incident in Dogiyai resulted in civilian fatalities or persons being injured by bullets. 

Human rights activists emphasized that the perpetrators of the police must be held accountable through legal processes. The incident shed light on the ongoing human rights violations in West Papua, underscoring the urgent need for justice, accountability, and the protection of basic human rights in the region.

Background

The community’s response to the shooting reflected their deep-seated frustration with the unprofessional conduct of security forces in West Papua. Similar incidents have occurred in regencies Jayawijaya, Dogiyai, and Mappi within the past six months. A similar incident occurred in November 2022, again the Dogiyai Regency. In all of these cases, the use of excessive force by security force members triggered spontaneous outbreaks of ethnic horizontal violence in which indigenous Papuans attacked Indonesian migrants or burnt down businesses owned by non-Papuans. Statistics illustrate that the victims with bullet injuries during these incidents were almost entirely indigenous Papuans. At the same time, Indonesian migrants became victims of horizontal violence during subsequent attacks on migrant communities during the unrest.

The outbreaks of unrest and ethnic horizontal violence in response to such incidents must be understood in the context of the historically grown injustice and racial discrimination against indigenous Papuans in Indonesia. Unilateral amendments to the Papuan Special Autonomy Law without prior consultation with the Papuan people, economic development policies, and the growing restriction of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Indonesia’s easternmost provinces are causing growing disagreement with the central government and the loss of trust in the Indonesian justice system.

Table of victims

NoNameAgeLocationDate, timeAdditional information
1Yosua Keiya20 yearsObayo Village, Kamu Utara District13 July 2023, 11:25 amShot dead, died at the site of the crime because of a bullet injury on the right side of the chest
2Yakobus Pekei20 yearsEntrance road to Ekemanida Village, Kamu District13 July 2023, 8:16 pmReportedly shot dead by a sniper who took a position at the airport tower, died at the site of the crime because of a bullet injury on the chest
3Stepanus Pigome19 yearsIkebo aka Moanemani Town, Kamu District13 July 2023, 8:16 pmShot dead, died of blood loss after sustaining a bullet wound on the thigh 
4Sisko Goo21 yearsIkebo aka Moanemani Town, Kamu District13 July 2023, 8:50 pmBullet wound on the left leg
5Elipin Tagi20 yearsIkebo aka Moanemani Town, Kamu District13 July 2023, 8:16 pmBullet wound on the right knee
6Yunus Pekei20 yearsIkebo aka Moanemani Town, Kamu District13 July 2023, 09:30 pmBullet wound on the right knee
7Amos Pigai19 yearsIkebo aka Moanemani Town, Kamu District13 July 2023, 8:50 pmBullet wound on the left calf
8Pini Tebai19 yearsIkebo aka Moanemani Town, Kamu District13 July 2023, 11.30Bullet wound on the right thigh
9Ayub GooIkebo aka Moanemani Town, Kamu District13 July 2023Bullet wound and tortured at police station
10Fredi Yobe17 yearsIkebo aka Moanemani Town, Kamu District13 July 2023Was arbitrarily arrested and tortured; police officers released him on the following day
11Rev Daud Yobe23 yearsIkebo aka Moanemani Town, Kamu District13 July 2023Was arbitrarily arrested and tortured; police officers released him on the following day

Mr Yosua Keiya

Mr Yakobus Pekei

Mr Stepanus Pigome

Bullet injury on Mr Yunus Pekei’s right knee

Video recorded shortly after Mr Yosua Keiya was arbitrarily executed

Mr Yakobus Pekei

Video taken at night time during the unrest in Dogiyai

Videos of residential houses burnt to the ground by security force members in the Kimupugi Village, Dogiyai

Detailed Case Data
name of the location: Moanemani/ Ikea (-4.001513419087928, 136.03999954167531)
administrative region: Indonesia, Papua Tengah Province, Dogiyai Regency
total number of victims: 11
period of incident: 13.07.2023
perpetrator: other security forces
perpetrator details: Damai Cartenz Special Police Unit, joint security forces
Issues: torture, ill-treatment, extra-judicial killing, indigenous peoples, arbitrary detention
Sources:
Further HRM News:

NumberName, DetailsGenderAgeGroup AffiliationViolations
1Yosua Keiyamale20indigenousexecution
1Yakobus Pekeimale21indigenousexecution
1Stepanus Pigome19indigenousexecution
1Sisko Goomale21indigenousill-treatment
1Elipi(n) Tagimale18indigenousill-treatment
1Yunus Pekeimale22indigenousill-treatment
1Amos Pigaimale19indigenousill-treatment
1Pini Tebaimale19indigenousill-treatment
1Ayub Goomaleunknown indigenousill-treatment
1Fredi Yobemale17indigenousarbitrary detention, torture
1Rev Daud Yobemale23indigenousarbitrary detention, torture