Security force members kill Papuan man during raid in Paniai Regency

On 14 June 2024, the Damai Cartenz 2024 Security Task Forces began raiding the Odiyai Village, Bibida District. Mr Pilemon Gobai, 42, was executed during the raid near the Odiyai Village. At the same time, Mr Melkias Yatipai, 47, sustained a bullet injury on the left heel as security force members opened fire at him.   

Instead of following the other villagers to Madi, Mr Gobai, Mr Yatipai, and their families decided to stay with relatives in the Dogomo District, which they intended to reach by foot. The women and children started their walk ahead of Mr Gobai and Mr Yatipai because they could not walk as fast as the men. The women later testified that they were intercepted by a group of patrolling security force members at Onowogeugida Mountain. They were allowed to proceed to Dogomo after presenting identification documents (see sketch in Annexe). 

 Mr Gobai and Mr Yatipai stayed back in Odiyai to pack some more belongings and left the village later to catch up with their families on the way to Dogomo. Both men were ambushed by security force members at Idege Hill, with bullets coming from Onowogeugida Mountain (see sketch in annex). Mr Pilemon Gobai sustained a lethal gunshot wound because of the shooting. According to the information received, the projectile entered at the back of the body near the spine and exited at its front through the stomach. There was a larger bruise on the victim’s forehead. Mr Melkias Yatipai, sustained a bullet injury in the heel as a result of the shooting but was able to escape towards Dogomo. He was afraid to seek treatment at the hospital and used traditional forms of treatment instead of proper medical treatment.  

On 17 June 2024, relatives found the body at Onowogeugida Hill, two days after the shooting. They carried the body down the hill. On the way down, the relatives encountered two police officers who organised a vehicle to bring the body to the General Hospital in Madi. The relatives were neither allowed to accompany the body nor to attend the examination of the body. Medical personnel conducted an external post-mortem examination, without performing a forensic examination of the body. The relatives received the body through the military on 18 June 2024. Mr Gobai was buried next to his house (see photos in Annexe). 

Following the raid in Odiyai Village, the chief of the Damai Cartenz Unit, Commissioner Faizal Ramadhani, made public statements on 17 June 2024, according to which his men found the body which they believed to be a killed member of the TPNPB. Ramadhani added that the dead suspect did not carry a firearm but an 80 cm long machete which his men seized as evidence.

Security force raid in Paniai Regency

A security force raid in the Bibida District, Paniai, Regency, on 14 June 2024 caused the internal displacement of an estimated more than 5,000 persons in six districts (see table in Annex). Churches seized operations in the affected villages. Previously, joint police and military forces established checkpoints and controlled passing vehicles in Enarotali Town and the Madi Village on 12 June 2024.

Bibida and the surrounding districts are inhabited by the indigenous Moni and Me tribes. People fled their houses in fear of the security force operations and armed violence between the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) and Indonesian security forces. The raid was launched after TPNPB members shot dead a civilian Non-Papuan in the Kopo Village, Paniai Timur District, on 11 June 2024.

According to information from local sources, security forces entered the Bibida District from various directions, on land from water, and in the air around 7.00 am (see sketch below).

1. Damai Cartenz members took position on Ekaugida Mountain towards Bibida District (security force members of this unit are alleged to have executed Mr Pilemon Gobai).

2. About ten police trucks entered Bibida on the main road

3. Damai Cartenz members entered Bibida with boats on Weya River

4. Four helicopters circling over Bibida to support ground forces. One helicopter reportedly released shots toward the ground

The security force members announced that all civilians should immediately leave the district. Following the order, villagers in Bibida District, as well as people from villages in the East Paniai District, and the districts Agadide, Komopa, Duma-Dama, and Dogomo gathered at the courtyard of YPPK Bibida Elementary School and at Bibida Catholic Church from where security forces brought them to the Salib Suci Catholic Church in Madi. Many fled by food.

On 26 July 2024, the 302 Siliwangi Raider Task Force dropped building materials for a military and a police post in central Bibida District and the Ugidimi Village. The military post had been planned since 2020. Security forces have repeatedly approached the Moni community in Bibida to get their consent. However, all components of the Bibida District community refused the formation of new security posts in Bibida

Photos of MR Pilemon Gobai’s body at the mortuary in Madi Hospital (left) and at the site of the crime (bottom right)

Grave next to Mr Gobai’s house (bottom)

Sketch of the raiding area in Bibida

Security force raid in Bibida, 14 June 2024

Detailed Case Data
name of the location: Paniai (-3.943381597376585, 136.48726562909349)
administrative region: Indonesia, Papua Tengah Province, Paniai Regency
total number of victims: two
period of incident: 14.06.2024
perpetrator: other security forces
perpetrator details: unknown
Issues: torture, extra-judicial killings, indigenous peoples, ill-treatment
Further HRM News:

NumberName, DetailsGenderAgeGroup AffiliationViolations
1Pilemon Gobaimale42indigenousexecution
1Melkias Yatipaimale47indigenousill-treatment