Women in Sugapa, Intan Jaya demand the removal of military post

Women in Sugapa district in Intan Jaya Regency, Papua Tengah Province, are demanding the removal of military and police posts from their communities due to the dangers they pose to civilians caught in the crossfire of armed conflict. Intan Jaya is one of the areas affected by armed conflict between the Indonesian National Army (TNI) and the National Police (Polri), and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB). This ongoing conflict has resulted in casualties among civilians, including a recent incident where a 13-year-old boy was killed by gunfire.

On 25 April 2024, the Moni-Migani Women’s Association led a protest urging the removal of three military and police posts located in residential areas of Sugapa. Residents in Sugapa claim these posts make them vulnerable to being caught in the crossfire during armed clashes. They also report living in fear and being unable to freely go to school or work due to the constant threat of violence.

Pastor Yosep Bunai, from the Deanery of Moni-Puncak Jaya, expressed his solidarity with the Papuan women and condemned all violent acts that have caused fear and disrupted their lives. He urges Indonesian security forces and the TPNPB to cease hostilities, allowing the residents to live safely and pursue their livelihoods.

The Intan Jaya Police Chief, Commissioner Afrizal Asri, justifies the presence of military and police by citing security concerns and the need to protect the community from disturbances by armed criminal groups. He stressed that the location of the police post was determined by the police in close cooperation with the local Government. The Acting Regent of Intan Jaya, Apollos Bagau, did not respond to requests for comment on the residents’ demands.

As in other conflict areas in West Papua, the deployment of military troops and the presence of additional military posts has proved to put civilians at risk and increase casualties. The Indonesian government however continues to claim that security forces are deployed to protect the communities and are necessary for their security.

Watch video of peaceful action by Moni-Migani Women’s Association (link to video)