Series of arbitrary arrests in response to armed clashes throughout September 2021

Media outlets and human rights defenders have documented the arrest of 29 persons in the Papuan regencies Yahukimo and Sorong throughout September 2021. Among them were seven children between 7 and 12 years and four other minors. In most of the cases, the police officers conducted the arrests without showing a warrant. The series of arrests are believed to be part of countermeasures in response to multiple attacks by the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB) against military posts in Yahukimo and Maybrat.

Arrest of six Papuans in Dekai

On 2 September 2021, members of the Nemangkawi police task force arrested Anias Yalak (also known as Senat Sol), Mekison Molama, Sapuk Itlai, Abet Molama, Pilias Matuan and Epias Yalak in a house located at the Marten Indei Road in the town of Dekai, Yahukimo Regency. The police claim that all arrestees are affiliated with the TPN PB. One of the arrestees – a former military member, named Anias Yalak – was reportedly on a wanted list for illegal arms trade and murder since 2018. Police officers shot both of his legs because he allegedly resisted the arrest. Mr Yalak received first aid treatment at the general hospital in Dekai but was immediately transferred to the police detention facility on the same day. The relatives were prevented from visiting Anias Yalak at the hospital.

Arbitrary arrest of Depron Wenda in Sorong

Human rights defenders reported the arbitrary arrest of Papuan student Depron Wenda in the city of Sorong, Papua Barat Province, on 9 September 20921. According to information received, Depron Wenda was arbitrarily arrested in front of the Sorong Muhamadiyah University (UMS) campus while driving his motorcycle. Witnesses saw that six plainclothes officers blocked his way, dragged him off the motorcycle and handcuffed his hands behind the back. The officers forced him to enter a minivan and detained him at the Sorong District Police Station. It is unclear if the police have pressed charges against him.

Arbitrary arrest of 22 Papuans in Dekai

Police officers reportedly arrested a group of 22 Papuans at the Siep Asso Complex in the town of Dekai, Yahukimo Regency, on 20 September 2021. The officers did not show a warrant at the time of the arrest. Papuan media outlet Jubi reported that the group had come together for a traditional cooking ceremony. Police officers stopped their pick-up truck on the way to the ceremonial site. Among the arrestees were seven children between 7 and 12 years and four other minors. All were temporarily detained at the Yahukimo District Police Station (see photo, source: Jubi). Twenty-one of the detainees were released after 2.5 hours while Arnes Silak remained in custody for further investigation.

Police members searched Arnes Silaks’s house and seized traditional weapons, mobile phones, kitchen equipment, and gardening tools shortly after the arrest. The Yahukimo police chief, Deni Herdiana, denied in an interview that his men had arrested the minors.