Police operation in Maybrat Regency accompanied by arrests and torture

Police forces conducted a large-scale operation between 15 and 23 April 2020 in the regency of Maybrat, Papua Barat Province. According to news outlet Suarapapua.com, mobile brigade police officers (Brimob) searched houses and carried out arrests in multiple villages. They particularly targeted members and facilities of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB). A local lawmaker in Maybrat regency stated that the raid was carried out in response to the killing of a police officer of the Papua Barat Regional Police (Polda Papua Barat). The perpetrator allegedly seized the officer’s firearm and ammunition. After the raid, military members reportedly collected information from residents in Maybrat’s largest town Kumerkek. The police raid resulted the internal displacement of indigneous villagers. The internally displaced persons originate from eight villages, namely, Aisa, Aikrer, Sawim, Aitrem, Sahbuku, Wakom, Sasior Frabuku and Sasior Nafe. 

On 15 April, twelve pick-up trucks brought a group of fully armed police officers to the village of Aisa in the Aifat Timur district. On 16 April, the police officers searched the KNPB office and multiple houses in Tikiemana village in the same district. The villagers fled their houses and sought shelter in the surrounding forest. On 17 April, police officers allegedly arrested village leader Marthen Muuk and Simon Sasior in the village of Tikiemana. A third villager escaped the arrest. On the following day, the police expanded the raid to the village of Trans/Yahi. The officers reportedly used the houses of residents as accommodation.

More indigenous villagers were internally displaced (see intro image, Source: Suarapapua.com) as police forces raided the villages Sasior Nafe and Sasior Frabuku in the Aifat Timur District on 21 April. An elderly man named Joni Aimau reportedly died shortly after displacement. The next day around 9.00 am, police officers allegedly arrested and subsequently tortured Edo Lando Sakof, the KNPB chairperson of the Siwa area in Maybrat. According to Suarapapua.com, the officers stabbed Mr Sakof with a knife in both legs, broke one of his fingers and staged a mock execution at the Alam bridge. The officers threatened to throw him in the river while his hands were tied to his back. Subsequently the officers brought Edo Lando Sakof to Wakom village.

On 23 April 2020, the police officers reportedly searched the KNPB branch office in Kamat Village, damaged office facilities and seized flags. A KNPB member named Abadur Mate was beaten up by police officers during the raid. The officers arrested KNPB sympathizer Yakobus Asem.

In total four villagers, namely Yakobus Asem, Pontius Wakom, Marthen Muuk and Simon Sasior, were arrested during the police raid. They are being detained at the Sorong Selatan District Police station. It is not known whether the police will press charges against them.