Conflict tension increases in Intan Jaya Regency

The conflict situation in the remote highland regency Intan Jaya has become significantly more tense during the past days. Human rights defenders have observed military (TNI) members repeatedly approaching primary and middle schools in Intan Jaya’s major town Sugapa to monitor Papuan pupils who appeared to support the right to political self-determination in West Papua. Moreover, the ICP received credible information according to which military members documented the identities of these pupils and interrogated them after school. The human rights defenders claim that the monitoring activities have been ongoing since early August 2020. The most recent monitoring activity was reported from a middle school in Sugapa on 5 September 2020 (see into image and image on the right).

Military School monitoring Intan Jaya 2These monitoring activitiy in educational facilities is not the only aggravating concern in the Intan Jaya Regency. On 14 September 2020, the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB) conducted an armed attack on a TNI outpost. The attack occurred in the village of Mamba around 11.00 am. According to the media outlet Suara Papua, three military members were reportedly killed during the armed clashes. Other media sources mentioned two civilian fatalities. The alleged victims, who were migrants working as motorcycle-taxi drivers, sustained bullet injuries during the attack. Security forces will likely launch raids in the Sugapa District to track down the perpetrators, which will likely lead to abuses since such operations are frequently accompanied by human rights violations against the indigenous population.

As reported by the ICP, the Indonesian government has recently deployed 500 additional military personnel to West Papua. They will serve in various regencies in the central highlands, where they should help the local governments to stabilise the conflict situation and secure infrastructure as well as other development projects. Considering the recent attack in Mamba, it is likely that the government will also deploy non-organic troops to Intan Jaya.