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Australian advocacy group condemns killing of 5 West Papuans - challenges Canberra

Asia Pacific Report - September 17, 2023

An Australian human rights advocacy group for West Papuans has condemned the killing of 5 youths found dead in Dekai, capital of Yahukimo Regency, and have challenged Canberra to reconsider government ties with Indonesian security forces.

Criticising the latest deaths, Australia West Papua Association (AWPA) spokesperson Joe Collins said: "While West Papuans are being killed by the Indonesian security forces, we have Australia and Indonesia sitting down at the ninth bilateral consultation to discuss bolstering anti-terror cooperation".

Antara News reports that Indonesia and Australia have committed to continue "anti-terrorism" cooperation through dialogue at bilateral, regional, and multilateral forums, as well as technical cooperation.

Collins said it was time that the Australian Defence Department and DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) "seriously looked at their ties with the Indonesian security forces" and the affect their aid and training had on West Papuans.

The five civilians who were found dead at the mouth of the Brasa River were aged between 15-18 and were members of the Kingmi Papua Church.

According to church officials, the five youths usually delivered food to the village after buying it at Dekai.

Sebby Sambom, a spokesperson for the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) fighting for independence from Indonesia, was reported to have said that the five victims found dead on Friday were not members of the TPNPB.

'Not ours' says TPNPB

"They're not our members. They were purely civilians who wanted to return to their villages and were shot and bombed by the Indonesian military," he was quoted as saying by the Papuan news outlet Jubi.

The chair of the Yahukimo Church Fellowship (PGGY), Pastor Atias Matuan, named the five dead civilians as Darnius Heluka, Musa Heluka, Man Senik, Yoman Senik and Kapai Payage.

On Friday, PGGY accompanied the family to collect the bodies at the Yahukimo Regional General Hospital (RSUD). "Their bodies had gunshot wounds to the stomach, chest and legs," Pastor Matuan said.

The pastor also reported that TNI officers had a guard post at the Dekai urban boundary, and residents wanting to travel from Dekai were required to report there.

"Residents must report to the security post. If they don't, they're considered part of the TPNPB, even though they don't carry military equipment," he said.

Victims buried

The five victims were buried at the Kilo Enam Public Cemetery, Dekai, on Friday.

Joe Collins of AWPA said there appeared to be a "total lack of trust" between the security forces and local people in the region.

Pastor Matuan said that his party "had difficulty mediating in the armed conflict because he felt that the Indonesian security forces did not trust the Servant of God".

Source: https://asiapacificreport.nz/2023/09/17/australian-advocacy-group-condemns-killing-of-5-west-papuans-challenges-canberra