Joint Security forces shot Enius Tabuni dead after a firefight with members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) in the Yenggernok Village, Puncak Regency, Papua Tengah Province, on 22 March 2023. He died as a result of a bullet injury under the right armpit. Relatives cremated his body on the same day (see photos below, source: independent HRDs). The police claimed that he was affiliated with TPNPB. According to local sources, Enius Tabuni was a civilian, still below the age of 18 years. The TPNPB has published a statement in response to the shooting, stating that Enius Tabuni was not affiliated with their group.
The shooting occurred shortly after TPNPB members killed a motorcycle taxi driver in the town of Ilaga on the same day. Thereupon, joint security forces launched raids in the surrounding areas to find the perpetrators. Observers alleged security force members of burning down residential houses during the raid (see photos below, source: independent HRDs). The armed clash in the neighbouring Gome District occurred as the security forces approached the Yenggernok village.
A video circulating on social media (see video below) shows security force members next to the body of Enius Tabuni. The soldiers point at the body, saying ”This is an OPM member – he is dead. This is war. Komodo 3 Unit. Kostrad ‘till death [Infantry Strategic Reserves Command]”.
The Papua Regional Police Spokesperson, Mr Ignatius Benny Ady Prabowo, stated in interviews with the national media that the Enius Tabuni was twenty-two years old, and affiliated with the TPNPB. Moreover, Prabowo claimed that his men found ammunition casings at the crime scene.
These claims contradict the information received by local observers and a press release by the TPNPB spokesperson, Sebby Saabom, dated 24 March 2023. “In this case, the Indonesian military and police claim to kill TPNPB members, but their claims are not true. The Indonesian military and police leaders in Papua are lying to the public through the mass media in Indonesia”, said Sambom. The relatives say Enius was still enrolled in school and worked as a motorcycle driver. They believe that he was executed by security force members who stopped him on the motorcycle while he was on his way back from Ilaga shortly after TPNPB members killed the motorcycle taxi driver.
There have been many cases known in which police and the military have tried to cover up cases of human rights violations, claiming that the ´victims were TPNPB fighters. This is important for the Government to prevent an internationalisation of the conflict and maintain the support of the public for the security force operations in West Papua. The armed conflict reached a new level of violence in 2022. This finding is backed up by the significant rise in conflict-related civilian fatalities.
For many years, the ongoing armed conflict in West Papua is no longer taking place only on the battlefield. It is also a war for public opinion. Journalists and human rights defenders have identified a growing number of misinformation platforms, automated bots, and other forms of cyberwarfare, particularly in the conflict situation in West Papua.
The Indonesian NGO SAFEnet published a report in 2019, according to which the LGBTI community and Papuan activists were among the most affected by the blockage and censorship of information. Public opinion and discourse on West Papua are manipulated in multiple ways. Standard methods use the internet, particularly the social media platforms Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, or other channels such as websites or blogging platforms. Current efforts of online manipulation vary from disseminating pro-government counter-information to the discreditation of human rights defenders and political activists through smear campaigns. Other strategies require direct involvement from government authorities to prevent or regulate the dissemination of critical content about West Papua.
Cremation of Enius Tabuni`s body, 22 March 2023
Video taken by security forces shortly after Enius tabuni was shot dead
Security force members allegedly set residential houses on fire during the raid in Puncak Regency on 22 March 2023
Detailed Case Data
name of the location: Yenggernok Village (-4.001543278109072, 137.65118851782063)
administrative region: Indonesia, Papua Tengah Province, Puncak Regency, Ilaga District, Delpel Village
total number of victims: one
period of incident: 22.03.2023
perpetrator: police, other security forces
perpetrator details: unknown
Issues: extra-judicial killings, indigenous peoples
Further HRM News:
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