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TPNPB-OPM demands release of 2 apprehended West Papuan teenagers

Tempo - February 26, 2024

Aisyah Amira Wakang, Jakarta – The spokesperson of The National Liberation Army of West Papua – Free Papua Movement (TPNPB – OPM) Sebby Sambom claimed that the two people apprehended by joint state apparatus on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, are civilians. Both of them are 15-year-old teenagers, MH and BGE.

According to Sebby, MH and BGE were crossing the Brasa River in Dekai District, Yahukimo Regency while bathing before being arrested.

"They were just trying to pick bananas," said Sebby on Sunday, February 25, 2024. However, the military and police joint apparatus intercepted MH and BGE on their way. Sebby said that the personnel surveil them using drone cameras. During the arrest of the two teenagers, the state enforcers personnel shot dead an OPM member named Otniel Giban.

Sebby confirmed that Otniel was indeed a member of OPM, but MH and BGE were not. "The late Otniel Giban was an active TPNPB-OPM Wosem Battalion troop who was seconded to Kodap 16 Yahukimo. However, the two people arrested were purely civilians," he said.

According to Sebby, the two teenagers are still being detained and are at the Yahukimo Police Station.

TPNPB Battalion Commander Wosem Napianus Kerebea, according to Sebby, said that there was no shootout during the incident. At that time, Otniel only kept a noken or traditional Papuan bag with a morning star motif and a cellphone. Otniel, he said, did not carry a firearm.

Head of the Cartenz Peace Operations Police Commissioner Faizal Ramadhani said MH and BGE were witnesses at the scene of the shooting. Currently, they are still being detained to be questioned about an airplane shooting incident and their involvement with TPNPB troops.

The joint officers claimed to have found evidence from the two witnesses, namely 74 rounds of cal.5.56 ammunition, 2 SS1 magazines, and cash amounting to Rp3 million and Rp50,000. Apart from that, there was a Solar Cell, Morning Star Noken, two Oppo cellphones, a Nokia cellphone, a wrench, two charger heads, and one type C cable.

However, Sebby claimed that the weapons and ammunition found did not belong to MH and BGE, but to the military and police personnel.

Sebby asked for both of them to be released. "The two people arrested were civilians. We have the report," said Sebby.

According to the Head of Cartenz Peace Operations, Otniel's death occurred during an investigation into the shooting incident of the Wings Air plane on Saturday, February 17.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1837959/tpnpb-opm-demands-release-of-2-apprehended-west-papuan-teenager