Update on arrest of six Papuans in Dekai – Ananias Yalak dies during custody

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Anias Yalak, also known as Senat Sol, one of the six Papuans arrested in the Yahukimo regency on 2 September 2021, passed away at the Bhayangkara Police Hospital Jayapura on 26 September 2021. According to media outlet Suara Papua, Anias Yalak was dismissed from military service in 2019 and later joined the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB). He was on a wanted list for alleged murder and illegal arms trade.

Police officers shot both legs, claiming that Anias Yalak had resisted the arrest. He was brought to the Bhanyagkara Police Hospital in Jayapura for medical treatment (see photo, source: Jubi). Relatives who came to the hospital were reportedly prevented from visiting Mr Yalak. Human rights observers stated that the doctors at the police hospital amputated Mr Yalak’s legs without his prior consent or those of his relatives. He reportedly died of blood loss as a result of the amputation.

Members of the Nemangkawi police task force arrested Anias Yalak, Mekison Molama, Sapuk Itlai, Abet Molama, Pilias Matuan and Epias Yalak in a house in the town of Dekai, Yahukimo Regency. The police claimed that all arrestees are affiliated with the TPN PB.

A similar case occurred in 2012 after the police arrested Papuan resistance fighter Danny Kogoya. Mr Kogoya was shot by Indonesian security forces at the time of his arrest on 2 September 2012. His right leg was later amputated without his consent by doctors of the Bhayangkara Police Hospital. During his time at the police hospital, Danny was not permitted to receive visits from his family. He died due to a liver failure in Papua New Guinea in 2014. The doctors found traces of “unusual chemicals in his body”, raising concern that he was poisoned.

Regardless of the crimes that a person may have committed, authorities have an obligation to respect, protect, and fulfil defendants' human rights during law enforcement operations and detention. The Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials stipulate that “law enforcement officials, in carrying out their duty, shall, as far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms. They may use force and firearms only if other means remain ineffective or without any promise of achieving the intended result.” (General provisions, No. 4).