Armed violence statistics and a series of recent attacks indicate that the conflict in West Papua has reached a new level of escalation throughout 2022
The indigenous peoples in West Papua suffer from human rights violations in the decades long lasting political and economical conflict there. West Papua refers to the western half of the New Guinea island. It is comprised of the two Indonesian provinces Papua and Papua Barat.
A crowd of several hundred protesters gathered in various locations in Kaimana on 14 July 2022. Police officers blocked the roads to the local parliament. According to information received, police officers beat two protesters with wooden batons. The police dragged them off the bike and forced them to enter one of the trucks. One of the victims, Mr Aser Bary, was beaten with a wooden baton and sustained bruises on his chest and back as a result of the excessive force applied against him.
The Papua Peoples Petition (PRP) submitted a registration letter for a protest on 11 July 2022. According to media sources, the Jayapura police chief mobilized 2,000 police officers to prevent the protest. Dozens of police officers dispersed a group of about 30 students at the entrance gate to the Cenderawasih University campus in Waena, Jayapura. A video of the crowd control operation shows police officers wearing helmets and heavy gear beating the protesters.
A case of torture and violation of the right to fair trial in the Maybrat Regency provides an insight into the justice system. The seven indigenous Papuans were arrested and prosecuted for their alleged involvement in the attack on a military post in Kisor Village on 2 September 2021. The majority of the defendants were internally displaced shortly after the attack. Four were allegedly minors, but only one of them was tried under the juvenile justice system. Fourteen-year-old Lukas Ky was found guilty of murder and sentenced to eight years imprisonment.
Human rights defenders and media outlets reported the killing of two Papuan young men by members of the Indonesian military on 13 April 2020. According to relatives, Eden Armando Bebari and Ronny Wandik went at 8am to a river at Mile 34 inside the Freeport concession area to catch fish. In the evening, relatives looked for Eden and Ronny because they had not returned to their homes. Their relatives only found the motorcycles at Mile 34. Around 11.30 pm, rumors spread in the town of Timika that soldiers of the military mobile border security unit Gab YR 712 and YR 900 had shot dead two members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB). The following day, the relatives were informed that the bodies of Eden and Ronny had been brought to the public hospital in Mimika.
More than two years later judges at the III-17 Military Court in Manado have found Lieutenant Gabriel Bowie Wijaya and Private Sugi Harnoto guilty of killing two Papuans in Timika.
Police officers dispersed civil unrest in the town of Enarotali, Panaiai Regency, using tear gas and live ammunition on 5 July 2022. The police justified the forceful intervention by claiming that protesters were damaging buildings at the Paniai Regent’s Office. A Papuan man named Donatus Nawipa was killed during the crowd control operation.
On 14 June 2022, police officers dispersed a peaceful assembly in the Perumnas III residential area in Waena, Jayapura City, with teargas, wooden batons and rubber bullets. Eleven protesters were injured and 5 others arrested. The protesters had come together to commemorate the death of former KNPB leader Mako Tabuni, who died during police detention on 14 June 2012.
On 4 June 2022, a military member shot dead 16-year-old civilian, Rafael Ivan Balaweling in the Prafi District of Manokwari Regency, Papua Barat Province. The shooting occurred during a wedding ceremony in the Aimasi village. According to the military spokesperson, General Tatang Subarna, the shooting was triggered by an argument between Staff Sergeant AFTJ and Rafael Ivan Balaweling.
About sixty PRP supporters gathered at the Oyehe Gizi Park in Nabire on 3 June 2022 and made peaceful orations. Minutes later, dozens of police officers arrived at the park and told the protesters to leave, claiming that other groups would need the park for an assembly. Fully equipped police personnel pushed the protesters towards the Oyehe bus terminal. The officers reportedly intercepted people recording the operation and forced them to delete the recordings. The police arrested 23 protesters, who were detained and interrogated at the Nabire District Police Station (POLSEK).
On 3 June 2022, around 250 people went to the streets in Sorong city to voice their opposition to Jakarta’s planned administrative partitions. At 2.30 pm, the protesters gathered at the local parliament, demanding to meet the local parliament chairman. He did not come to meet the crowd, and at 3.15 pm, the situation became tense. Some protesters reacted by burning tires in the surrounding area. In return, police officers shot teargas grenades and rubber bullets from close range into the crowd. At least ten protesters sustained injuries due to excessive force during the crowd control operation.
On 3 June dozens of PRP sympathisers, Papuan students and activists gathered at the Kudamati Road near the Mangga Market in Merauke. They orated and read their arguments against the formation of new provinces loudly. The demonstration lasted for around half an hour, after which the protesters dispersed. Approximately 15 minutes later, joint security forces arrived in the area and began taking the mobile phones of bystanders to revise and delete recordings, and identify protesters. They also searched houses in the area.
On 3 June 2022, people in Timika went to the streets to voice their opposition to Jakarta’s planned administrative partitions. Police officers reportedly blocked the crowd at SP3 and arrested two protesters named Mr Jakson Wenda and Mr Anas Oktovianus H Rumaropen. Both were reportedly ill-treated during the arrest. The exact circumstances of the arrest remain unclear. A small group of protesters was allowed to share their aspirations with parliament representatives.
The Papuan Legal Aid Institute (LBH Papua) was subjected to an attack in the early morning of 9 May 2022. A motorcycle was set on fire inside the garage of the LBH Office in Jayapura City. LBH Papua is part of a coalition of human rights organisations in West Papua and provides legal and non-legal support to political activists and other victims of human rights violations.
Eight Papuan activists: Malvin Yobe, Devio Tekege, Ambros Elopere, Maksi You, Paul Sode Hilapok, Luis Sitok, Ernesto Matuan, and Melvin Waine were arrested for raising the Morning Star flag in front of the sports hall (GOR) in Jayapura on 1 December 2021. The police charged the activists with Articles 106 KUHP on treason and Article 110 KUHP on criminal conspiracy against the state. Allegedly the police is unnecessarily prolonging the detention because the evidence against the eight activists is not sufficient to submit the case to the public prosecutor. On 30 January 2022, the police extended the period of detention for another 30 days. Prior to the arrest, Melvin Yobe was undergoing a pulmonary treatment program, while Sode Hilapok was suffering from hemorrhoids. Their health condition of Mr Malvin Yobe and Mr Paul Sode reportedly deteriorated in late January 2022. Mr Hilapok was once permitted to see a doctor while Mr Yobe has not yet received any medical treatment. The trial started at the Jayapura District Court in April 2022 but the first court hearing was adjourned. The trial has finally started on 17 May 2022.
On 29 August 2022, judges at the Jayapura District Court found Mr Melvin Yobe, 29, Mr Melvin Fernando Waine, 25, Mr Zode Hilapok, 27, Mr Devion Tekege, 23, Mr Yosep Ernesto Matuan, 19, Mr Maksimus Simon Petrus You, 18, Mr Lius Kitok Uropmabin, 21, and Mr Ambrosius Fransiskus Elopere, 21, guilty of treason as regulated under Article 106 of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) (see photo on top, source: Jubi). Previously, the public prosecutor demanded a sentence of one year while the lawyers had pleaded for acquittal for the defendants.