Unsettled torture of Moses Yewen sparks conflict between relatives and military in Fef District, Tambrauw Regency

The longstanding conflict between the family of the late Moses Yewen and the military presence in Fef District, Tambrauw Regency, Southwest Papua (Papua Barat Daya) Province has moved towards resolution. This follows a series of meetings and protests that highlighted the community’s grievances and demands. Mr Moses Yewen was tortured by military members on 9 April 2021 and died a month later. His relatives believe his death was a consequence of the torture he experienced.

On 16 June 2024, the family of Moses Yewen, supported by local community members, initiated a blockade of the Satgas 623 post in Fef. This action was a response to the lack of transparency and unresolved legal proceedings concerning the death of Moses Yewen, who was allegedly beaten by two soldiers from the Yonif 762/VYS unit in 2021. The protest underscored the community’s frustration with the military and judicial authorities for failing to provide clarity and justice.

Mr Hans Baru, the head of the Fef District, confirmed that the blockade was driven by disappointment with the ongoing lack of information regarding the case. The family’s actions were a spontaneous outpouring of frustration towards the military units and the judicial process. “The lack of transparency from Pangdam XVIII/Kasuari, Kodim 1810 Tambrauw, and the Military Court in Jayapura regarding the case of Moses Yewen has deeply upset the community,” said Hans.

In a meeting held on 19 June 2024, attended by key stakeholders including Mr Engelbertus Gabriel Kocu, the acting regent of Tambrauw, the local government, military officials, and representatives of Moses Yewen’s relatives, a significant breakthrough was achieved. The family demanded that the building used by the Satgas Fef post, which is situated on their customary land with a formal ownership certificate held by Moses Yewen’s child, be transferred to them. Mr Thomas Baru, representing the family, emphasised that this transfer was necessary to support the educational and daily needs of Moses Yewen’s children and widow.

“The building, currently serving as the Satgas post, stands on land that belongs to Moses Yewen’s family. We request that it be handed over to us to manage and potentially convert into a source of income, such as rental housing, to support the family,” said Thomas Baru during the meeting.

Rufina Yewen, another family member, echoed this sentiment, stating that the building should be leased, not sold, ensuring the family retains control and benefits from its use. Acting Regent Engelbertus Gabriel Kocu assured the family that their requests would be considered, pending administrative verification of the building’s status.

Following these discussions, the family agreed to lift the blockade on the Satgas 623 post, signaling a tentative acceptance of the new Satgas 762 unit. “With cooperation from all parties, we have reached a consensus to welcome Satgas 762 and resume peaceful coexistence in Fef,” Mr Kocu announced.

Commander of the new Satgas unit, Letkol Inf Dwi Harianto, expressed a commitment to improving relations with the community through a humanistic and territorial approach. “We aim to build a better relationship with the residents of Tambrauw, ensuring such conflicts do not arise again,” stated Harianto.