Further case of enforced disappearance causes ethnic tensions in Nduga

Human rights defenders documented the enforced disappearance of Mr Yermias Nagen, 35, in the Nduga Regency. Military members reportedly arrested him on 29 March 2021 as he was working in his garden near Andelekyo Creek. As Mr Nagen’s wife came to the garden, she saw two soldiers forcing Mr Nagen to cross the creek. She approached the military members and asked them where they were taking her husband. The military members did not respond but gave her a hand sign that she should leave. Feeling afraid, she walked away while the soldiers and Mr Yermias Nagen walked into the forest towards the Kenyam River. According to information provided by the Foundation for Justice and Integrity of the Papuan People, the soldiers belonged to military task force Raider Yonif 700 based at the military post in Kenyam.

In the late afternoon, Mr Nagen’s wife, several relatives and a local pastor officially reported the incident to the local police and the military in the town of Kenyam. Meanwhile, many indigenous people in Kenyam had received information about the alleged enforced disappearance. They gathered on the street, demanding the police and the military to return Mr Nagen, dead or alive, immediately. The protests continued for several days after the incident.

The military commander, Mr Christian  FR Ireeuw (Dandim 1715), stated during a meeting between the Nduga regent, the local police chief and various civil society representatives on 5 April 2021 that the TPN-PB might have staged the abduction to meet with local government representatives and request money and supplies.

On 7 April 2021, a joint team consisting of police investigators , the director of the Foundation for Justice and Integrity of the Papuan People and relatives went to the location where Mr Nagen’s wife had seen her husband for the last time. The investigators found traces of blood and the testimonies of three witnesses but no clues pointing at Mr Yermias Nagen’s whereabouts. A subsequent analysis of the blood concluded that it was human blood. The relatives confirmed that Mr Yermias Nagen was not affiliated with the TPN-PB and always brought his ID card in case of police or military control.