Jayapura, Jubi – The Regional Coordinator of the Kemah Injil Indonesia Church (GKII), Hans Wakerkwa, said that in late March to early April there were a number of house burnings and arrests of civilians in the pursuit of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) by the Indonesian Military (TNI) and Police in Puncak Regency, Central Papua Province. GKII is still recording the amount of material losses from the burning of houses in Puncak's Oneri District.
"We have confirmed to residents in Oneri District, there is indeed a pursuit of TPNPB to free the Susi Air pilot taken hostage, Philip Mark Mehrtens, and security forces burned honai (traditional Papuan houses) and arrested residents," Wakerkwa told Jubi via WhatsApp message service on Monday, April 3, 2023.
Wakerkwa said he did not know the reason for the arrest of civilians in Oneri. GKII was also still confirming the number of civilians arrested. "We hope that the civilians who were arrested can be released and return to their homes, back to their families," he said.
GKII Secretary Yotinus Kulua confirmed that the majority of people who were victims in the incident were GKII congregations. "They are our congregation members, so we continue to monitor their situation so that they get protection from the church and the government and resume their activities soon," he said.
Kulua said his party continued to coordinate with GKII regional leaders regarding the development of the situation in Puncak. "We urge both the security forces and TPNPB not to use excessive force against civilians and leave residents out of their firefight," he said.
He further asked the TNI and TPNPB not to chase or attack each other during the Easter celebration week. He said that in the month of Easter celebrations, all parties should be able to calm their hearts and follow the Easter celebrations. "I hope we can understand that. The congregation wants to celebrate Easter in peace," he said. (*)