Indonesia’s counter-terrorism squad, Densus 88, has been accused of perpetrating a massive fraud that aims to dismantle the peaceful, pro-independence West Papua National Committee (KNPB) and ultimately justify the elimination of Papuan free expression. West Papua Media reports.
by Nick Chesterfield, with Westpapuamedia stringers
October 15, 2012.
Amid an intensification of armed security sweeps against West Papuan clanspeople around Wamena, Church leaders in West Papua have condemned Indonesian security forces for falsely engineering conditions to justify eliminating Papuan civil resistance to Jakarta’s colonial rule.
Credible reports continue to be received of an ongoing security sweep against highland villages that has reportedly resulted in hundreds of civilians fleeing to take refuge with pro-independence guerrillas in the mountains several days walk from Wamena.
Activists from the pro-independence West Papua National Committee (KNPB) are reportedly being targeted in a worrying crackdown against free expression. Carloads of heavily armed police and soldiers are cruising around the districts surrounding Wamena, pouncing on any civilians suspected of having affiliation to the KNPB, according to church sources in communication with West Papua Media stringers.
KNPB sources have expressed great fear that the latest offensive by Indonesian security forces against their members is an attempt to wipe out the Papuan people by eliminating their ability to organise acts of peaceful free expression and to campaign for a referendum to determine Papua’s future.
A joint taskforce led by officers from the Australian funded counter-terror unit Detachment 88, together with soldiers from the notorious Wamena based Army (TNI) Battalion 756, and Police paramilitary Brimob Gegana alleged bomb “disposal” officers have joined the sweep, which initially targeted the villages of Wesagaput, Tulem, Jibama and Jbele, outside Wamena.
“Residents have sought refuge and are temporarily displaced from their homes as a result of a meeting by district office of Jayawijaya and the TNI/POLRI police who carried out raids, and accused local activists for planting a bomb in a house at Jalan Irian. The situation is described as tense and locals are in grave fear,” a pastor who has fled to the hills with the residents told West Papua Media by SMS on October 10.
Repeated attempts over the weekend by West Papua Media to contact the Jayawijaya police commander, and the new Papua Police Commander, former Densus 88 chief Tito Karnavian, have gone unreplied.
It is not known the strength of the taskforce, but unconfirmed reports have claimed up to two Satgas companies are involved, totalling at least 200 armed troops. Historically police and military raids against villages in the Baliem Valley have resulted in signficant human rights abuses, village burnings and repeated incidents of brutality and torture (some infamously captured on mobile phones and leaked via YouTube).
Messages sent late on Thursday night from the pastor explained “We are now in the jungle, two other crew are still the main target by the security forces and they are still in Wamena town.” The source described how his own, and KNPB members, photos have been displayed on Wanted posters (Daftar Pencarian Orang, DPO) across a small airstrip and the main market of Wamena town. The pastor has joined with the residents in order to provide a measure of protection and communication, and to be on hand for any negotiations.
He continued, in Wamena “the security presence (is) blocking the airstrip, market and the surrounding area and makes it difficult for us to send fast reports.” The pastor reported that on October 10, he and KNPB members who were attempting to file human rights reports were chased by a military vehicle. It was an “Avanza with fully armed military personnel, I believed to be Densus 88, which forced us to flee into the into the jungle with some documents. At the moment, kaka with other committee members in the jungle and soon kaka will be without reception. Please pray for us.”
It is believed that the villagers have fled to the protection of National Liberation Army guerrillas further in the hills, a long utilised last resort in an area that has been subject to generations of significant human rights abuses by the Indonesian military.
The villages being targeted are the home villages of KNPB members arrested in brutal raids by Detachment 88 and TNI troops on September 29. The activists led by Simon Dabi, the Baliem KNPB chairman, are still under arrest by Detachment 88 counter-terror officers, controversially accused of involvement in a bombing campaign that has been widely blamed by church sources to be the work of Indonesian special forces new force – the shadowy “unknown persons” that are never investigated properly by Police. It is feared by most observers that the activists will not receive any chance of a fair trial, as no international observers are allowed.
According to human rights sources in Wamena, the raids have occured after Indonesian intelligence agents interrogating the arrested KNPB activists accused them of hiding bomb making materials in their clan members’ houses. Church sources in Wamena who have had contact with the detainees have reported to West Papua Media that Densus 88 interrogations appear to have focussed on the connection between KNPB and UK-exiled Papuan highland leader Benny Wenda, and have targeted members of the extended Wenda clan for specific repression.
“Targeting indigenous people based on their blood and clan relations is a clear violation of human rights, and has nothing to do with proper police work,” said a senior church leader in Wamena to West Papua Media‘s stringer. “The situation in Wamena is now incredibly dangerous for anyone thought to support KNPB,” he said.
Further reports emerged overnight claiming that more KNPB activists were arrested over the weekend in Wamena, however these reports have not been able to be verified.
Church sources have departed from their usually restrained language, and have vehemently condemned the current operation as a conspiracy by security forces to justify slaughter of West papuan people opposed to Indonesian violence.
A statement by the Moderator of the Papuan Baptist Church, Reverend Socratez Sofyan Yoman, demanded security forces immediately cease their engineering of bombings in Papua.
“The case of the bombings that occurred in two place (at the Honorary Council Workspace Jayawijaya on 1 September, and Wamena traffic police at Jalan Pos Irian on 18 September) are a Really Big Lie by Indonesian police. False allegations that security disturbances were carried out by the people of Papua, more specifically KNPB in Wamena, in our opinion is untrue. Major public fraud like this is unacceptable to the conscience and sense of logic,” said Rev. Yoman.
Rev Yoman explained that “Crimes Against Humanity in the form of police lying is part of a huge security operation and mission of the Government of Indonesia in Papua,” and included the murder of Moses Mako Tabuni on June 14, 2012 by Detachment 88. “The whole process by security forces is very embarrassing to us and disturbs our conscience, but at the same time really damages the reputation of the security forces in the eyes of the people of Papua, the Indonesian people and the international community.”
Sofyan Yoman outlined an 8 point scenario of the motivations for Detachment 88 to conduct these raids, when they know that Papuan people have nothing to do with thee terror tactics.
The operation aims are as follows, Yoman said:
“1. Destroy the peaceful struggle of God’s people in Papua who demand justice and respect for the dignity and fundamental rights of Indigenous Papuans;
2. Knocking out all the pillars of the struggle of the people and the nation of Papua, demanding a peaceful dialogue between the Indonesian government and the Papuan People be unconditionally mediated by a neutral third-party… that continues to gain sympathy and support of the international community, academics, humanitarian workers and the people of Indonesia;
3. Creating a sense of fear, silence, dilemma and trauma of the Papuan people to not take the fight against Crimes Against Humanity committed by the TNI and the police defending sovereignty of the Republic of Indonesia from 1961 to 2012;
4. Destroy the peaceful struggle of West Papua National Committee (KNPB), which has been the voice of the suffering of the people of God in the Land of Papua.
5. Justifying (menjastifikasi) the construction of more military and police bases in the Land of Papua;
6. Confirming the presence of Detachment 88 in Papua, to pursue and kill civilians by utilising separatist stigma and treason (makar) charges against Papuan people.
7. Build the image to the international community that the violence and crimes against humanity in Papua are (caused by) Indigenous Papuans and KNPB (instead of the Indonesian colonial system).
8. And of course, the security forces to obtain additional funding from the budget or Papua province and district / city on the grounds of security control area and the State.”
The sweep is also occurring in other parts of Papua currently. Detachment 88 officers on October 14 arrested a former senior National Liberation Army figure Gidi Wenda outside Sentani, near Jayapura. Several police Avanza cars full of armed Densus 88 officers made the raid at a house behind the headman’s office at 3am, according to human rights sources. Wenda has not been heard from since, nor seen at the Police HQ, and relatives are concerned for his safety.
Despite the crackdown, KNPB activists have vowed to continue to engage in free expression, and call for the international community to prevent Indonesia from killing more Papuan people. “We will demand the United Nations to immediately send a team of observers to our territory, because from day-to-day, we are getting (sic) extinct under Indonesian military operations, just as we demand the right of self-determination which has been guaranteed by international law,” KNPB Chairman Victor Yeimo said in a statement released on October 15.
Mass rallies have been planned across Papua on October 24, which are likely to meet with significant repressive measures by Indonesian security forces.
“We will continue to demand our rights even the world seems concerning with the political economy of the occupiers and oppressors,” said Yeimo. “Many of our activists have been killed, imprisoned and intimidated under Indonesian rule, and we will not give up until our demands are heard by the world,” he noted.
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