Joint security forces kill indigenous community leader and minor during raid in Intan Jaya

A military operation has been ongoing in the regency of Intan Jaya since late December 2019. Human rights defenders reported that a recent raid in the Yoparu Village of Sugapa District resulted in the deaths of indigenous leader, Kayus Sani, and an eleven-years-old primary school student named Melki Tipagau (see intro image). Melki Tipagau’s mother, Malopina Sani (31 years), and another minor named Martina Sani (12 years) sustained bullet injuries during the incident. The bodies of Melki Tipagau and Kayus Sani were buried on 19 February 2020 in the village of Bulapa, Sugapa District. The tragic event occurred only three weeks after military members had reportedly killed one civilian and injured an eight-year-old boy during a previous clash in the Sugapa district on 26 January 2019. Kayus Sani had already sustained a bullet injury on the calf during the incident.

According to information received, joint security forces conducted the raid in the village of Yoparu on 18 February 2019. Witnesses claimed that the security forces searched multiple houses between 3.00 am and 9.00 am and repeatedly released shots in midst the settlement. The four victims were shot as they were inside their house as the raid took place.

The XVII Cenderawasih military commander, Colonel Eko Daryanto, claimed in a media interview that military members found the body of an eighteen-years-old member of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB) who carried a fire arm. According to the TPN PB Melki Tipagau was not a member of the armed resistance movement. The army chief’s press statement also contradicts the testimony of a pastor and the local school principal. Both confirmed that Martina Sani and Melki Tipagau were still below the age of 16 years and went to sixth grade of YPPK Bilogay primary school.

Table of victims




Additional information


Kayus Sani

51 years

Died as a result of bullet injuries on the chest and hand


Melki Tipagau

11 years

Died as a result of bullet injuries on the back of the head and right leg


Malopina Sani

31 years

Sustained bullet injury on the hand received medical treatment in Yoparu village


Martina Sani

12 years

Sustained bullet injury on the left foot and had to be brought to general hospital in Timika where the projectile was removed