Indigenous Papuan allegedly tortured during police custody in Merauke – Suspect dies in health centre

Relatives demand justice for the death of Michael Ipnun (see intro image). Michael was involved in a traffic accident near the village of Sarmayam in the Tanah Miring District on 21 September 2020. According to information received, he was sitting on the back of a motorcycle as the crash occurred. Around 7.30 pm, police officers took Michael Ipnun into custody shortly after regaining consciousness after the crash. Subsequently, the officers detained him at the Sarmayam Police post and later brought him to the Tanah Miring Sub-district police station where Michael was interrogated.

The relatives stated that they found bruises all over his body which appeared not to be related to the traffic accident. Moreover, Michael Ipnun’s wrists, feet and neck showed marks indicating that Michael’s extremities had been tied up. According to the director of the Justice and Peace Department (JPIC) of the Arch-Diocese Merauke, Father Anselmus Amo, three villagers witnessed how Michael Ipnun’s arms, legs and neck were tied to a chair at the Sarmayam Police post.


Papuan Pastor Yerimia Zanambani killed in Intan Jaya

Another extra-judicial execution has reportedly occurred in the highland regency of Intan Jaya, Papua Province, on 19 September 2020. According to the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Desk of the Papuan Tabernacle Church (Kingmi Papua), members of the Yonif 711/RKS/Brigif 22/OTA, DAM XIII/MDK Military Unit killed the 68-year-old Pastor Yerimia Zanambani (see intro image). The killing happened near Mamba, a small village in the Hitadipa District. Rev Zanambani was a pastor and bible translator working for the Protestant Evangelical Church in Indonesia (GKII).

However, the military representative Captain Kogabwihan Suriastawa declared in an interview with the national news outlet Kompas, that members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB) allegedly killed the pastor.  He explained that the TPN PB aimed to draw attention to the armed conflict in West Papua shortly before the annual United Nations General Assembly in late September 2020. Human rights defenders claim that this inaccurate information. They explained that the Indonesian military (TNI) is distributing false information about the incident to seek the support of the public and protect their members from being prosecuted. They stated that the scenario described by the TNI representative is highly unlikely because Rev Zanambani was an indigenous Papuan and well-respected pastor in his congregation. His pastoral activities were an enrichment for the entire congregation, including for those community members affiliated with the TPN PB.


Verdict in treason trial in Sorong - Ten months imprisonment for eleven Papuan activists

On 17 September 2020, the panel of judges at the Sorong District Court found eleven Papuan activists guilty of criminal conspiracy as stipulated under the article 110 of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP). The public prosecutor sought a sentence of 16 months for Daniel Jitmau, Paulus Syama, Lukas Nauw, Simon Aifat, Berto Tomow, Frengky Nauw, Lukas Smass, Marlinda Mangko, Silvester Nauw, Wilson Kofias and Jhosua Kingho. All defendants were arrested on 27 November 2019, after planning a public event through which they allegedly supported the establishment of the separate state ‘West Papua New Guinea’. The police found banners, flags and stickers with the Morning Star during the arrest.


Armed conflict in West Papua continues: Government deploys 500 soldiers to the central highlands

The Indonesian government has deployed 500 additional soldiers of the Yonif Raider 432 Waspada Setiajaya Unit to West Papua. According to the national media, the non-organic troops should help the local governments to stabilize the situation and secure infrastructure as well as other development projects in West Papua’s central highlands, which are known as the stronghold of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB). Meanwhile, the troops have arrived in Jayapura (see intro image) from where they will be flown to 20 military outposts in the regencies Yalimo, Yahukimo, Nduga, Mamberamo, Lanny Jaya and Tolikara. The non-organic troops are supposed to stay in West Papua between nine and twelve months.


Papuan activists reimburse Veronica Koman's scholarship funds to the Indo govt

The Ebamukai Solidarity Movement/Team has collected donations to reimburse the scholarship funds which the Indonesian Education Fund Management Institution (LPDP) provided for Veronica Koman’s law study in Australia. The movement has managed to collect donations for an amount of IDR 773,876,918 (about € 44.144) after the LPDP urged Koman to repay the funds. The Executive Director of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), Markus Haluk, explained in an interview with the media outlet Jubi that the funds were raised within days and the donations came from Papuan government representatives, politicians, activists, entrepreneurs and Veronika Koman’s relatives. On 16 September 2020, the former political prisoners Ambrosius Mulait and Dano Tabuni, together with the human rights lawyer, Michael Himan, went to the office of the LPDP in Jakarta (see intro image, source: Suara Papua) to return the funds together with an Indonesian flag. They also symbolically returned the Papua Special Autonomy Fund in the form of one million rupiahs (about € 57).


East Timor - 16 people on trial for peacefully protesting in solidarity with West Papua

Sixteen protesters had to stand trial because they conducted a peaceful protest in solidarity with the people of West Papua in front of the Indonesian embassy in Dili, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, commonly referred to as East Timor. The group of protesters, all members of the Maubere Peoples’ Front for West Papua (FRMWP), had participated in a seminar on the humanitarian crisis in West Papua on 3 September 2020. The peaceful demonstration on 4 September 2020 was a follow-up activity of the seminar. According to the media outlet ‘Suara Papua’, police officers dispersed the demonstration and arrested 16 out of 60 protesters.


Joint security forces kill three indigenous Papuans near Freeport Mine in Mimika

The ICP has received credible information regarding the killing of Mrs Demiana Wanmang, 25, Mr Demu Kiwak, 28, and Mr Uterus Newegalen, 18. This happened at Mile 69, an illegal gold panning site near the Grasberg Mine which is operated by PT Freeport Indonesia in the Tembagapura district of the Mimika regency. On 16 August 2020, joint security force members of the Tindak Nemangkawi Task Force opened fire at the group of four gold panners. Three of them died instantly as a result of the fatal bullet wounds. The task force members likely mistook the group for members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB). A similar incident already occurred on 13 April 2020, as military members shot dead Eden Armando Bebari and Ronny Wandik at Mile 34, where the two men were fishing.


Joint security force members torture three indigenous Papuans in Boven Digoel for not using face masks

Independent human rights defenders have documented a case of torture in the regency of Boven Digoel, Papua Province. The incident was confirmed by multiple media outlets. Joint police-military forces allegedly tortured three indigenous Papuans from the indigenous Kombai Tribe – among them one female – during a routine COVID-19 control in Boven Digoel’s largest town Tanah Merah. The security force members had reportedly stopped them because they were not wearing a face mask while riding their motorcycles. The Boven Digoel Government, the local customary council and the victims’ family agreed to settle the case outside the law through a compensation payment of 50 million rupiahs (about € 2,840) and three pigs.


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).


Papuan Youth Church Leaders raise their voices regarding racism, injustice and Special Autonomy

Following repeated calls by Church Leaders, like the open letter from the WPCC released in July 2020, calling for an end of racism and injustice in the land of Papua and rejecting the Special Autonomy "version 2" or "volume II", the West Papua Christian Youth Forum has issued an open letter to President Joko Widodo supporting the Papuan Church Councils position on Special Autonomy and Dialogue as well as the Papuan Peoples Petition rejecting Special Autonomy. They share that "the problem of Papua has become increasingly complex and severe because the root of the problem is racism and injustice, not separatism and treason. It has now been increasingly complicated due to the global mobilization of "Black Lives Matter and West Papua Lives Matter" which has become part of the international community. However, no matter how difficult and complicated, there must be a way out for a win-win solution."

Open Letter in PDF



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