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TNI shot dead five civilians in Mountainous Papua, raising questions about civilian safety

Tabloid Jubi - September 18, 2023

Jayapura, Jubi – On Friday, September 15, 2023, Papua Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Ignatius Benny Ady Prabowo reported five bodies were discovered following what was claimed to be an exchange of gunfire between the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) on Thursday. Police found two magazines and four bullets at the same location.

However, Pastor Atias Matuan, the chairman of the PGGY Church, clarified that the five people who lost their lives due to gunfire near Kali Brasa in Dekai, the capital of Mountainous Papua's Yahukimo Regency, were not affiliated with the TPNPB.

Matuan emphasized that these victims were ordinary villagers and not TPNPB members. The five civilians, identified as Darnius Heluka, Musa Heluka, Man Senik, Yoman Senik, and Kapai Payage, were all young people aged 15 to 18 who were people of the Kingmi Papua Church.

Matuan went on to explain that these youths were simply carrying food supplies back to their village from Dekai and were unarmed during their journey. Tragically, Indonesian security forces opened fire on them, leading to their untimely deaths.

"The families of the victims also corroborated that they were not affiliated with TPNPB and were mostly school dropouts," said Matuan.

On Friday, the Church assisted the families in retrieving the bodies of the deceased from the Yahukimo Regional General Hospital, where they observed gunshot wounds on the victims' bodies, including wounds to the abdomen, chest, and legs.

Matuan highlighted that Indonesian military officers had established a checkpoint at the outskirts of Dekai, requiring residents to report to the security post before traveling. Failure to do so could result in being labeled as TPNPB members, even if they were not carrying any weapons.

Matuan called for both TPNPB and the security forces to ensure that armed conflicts do not harm civilians. He stressed the importance of protecting the community and preventing casualties and displacements during these conflicts.

Matuan also expressed the difficulty of mediating the armed conflict, as he felt that the security forces did not trust religious leaders like himself. He urged the community to remain vigilant. (*)

Source: https://en.jubi.id/tni-shot-dead-five-civilians-in-mountainous-papua-raising-questions-about-civilian-safety