Jakarta – An independent team called the Nduga Case Investigation Team has reported a number of alleged human rights violations (HAM) during the military operations conducted by the TNI (Indonesian military) and Polri (Indonesian police) in Nduga regency, West Papua.
The military operation was launched after the December 2 brutal killing of PT Istaka Karya employees by the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) who were working on the Trans Jakarta highway bridge in Nduga.
Nduga Case Investigation Team member Theo Hasegem said that the military operations have resulted in many deaths and deep trauma among Nduga communities.
"The independent team, which went into the field found alleged HAM violations as a consequence of the military operations", said Hasegem at the Amnesty International Indonesia office in the Menteng suburb of Central Jakarta on Friday March 29.
Hasegem explained that the investigation found that a number of local people's homes and public facilities such as community healthcare centres (puskesmas) were intentionally torched by TNI personnel during the operations.
"They [the team] also suspect that military forces dropped bombs using helicopters during air attacks in a number of districts", said Hasegem.
In addition to this, Hasegem said that many local people were forced to flee their homes to seek safety in refugee shelters spread across several districts. He stated that people were worried about falling victim to the operations.
According to the investigation team's data, tens of thousands of Nduga residents have fled as a result of the military operations.
A detailed breakdown found that there were 4,276 displaced people in Mapenduma district, 4,369 in Mugi district, 5,056 in Jigi district, 5,021 in Yal district and 3,775 people in Mbulmu Yalma district.
Not only that, there are 4,238 displaced people spread across Kagayem district, 2,982 in Nirkuri district, 4,001 in Inikgal district, 2,021 in Mbua district and 1.704 in Dal district.
Hasegem stated that the conditions at the refugee shelters are quite inhuman because many mothers gave birth in the forests because of difficulties accessing medical assistance.
The investigation team also saw many malnourished infants at refugee shelters because there is inadequate food. "Several civilians have even died while in the refugee shelters", he said.
And the suffering of the people in Nduga doesn't end there. Hasegem said that they found civilians in several villages that had suffered at the hands of security forces and subsequently died.
He cited two school children who were shot dead in Mbua district and several civilians who suffered gunshot wounds and were left to die.
"Moreover the whereabouts of Reverend Geyimin Nirigi is still not known by his family. It is suspected that the reverend was abducted by military personnel in Mapenduma district", he said
Looking at the situation, Hasegem is asking the Indonesian government to reevaluate the ongoing military operations in Nduga. He stated that the operation will result in many more victims if it is allowed to continue.
"We are urging the government and the DPR [House of Representatives] to conduct a comprehensive evaluation on the placement of security personnel in the context of finding a solution", said Hasegem.
Hasegem is of the view that a security approach is not the appropriate solution to resolve the problems in Nduga and feels concerned that the operations will result in continuing human rights violations in Papua.
Hasegem is proposing that the government instead prioritise dialogue as was the experience in dealing with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in 2005.
"We suggest that the government and the DPR use the important experience of Aceh, when dialogue was carried out facilitated by a neutral party", he said. (rzr/pmg)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Tim Investigasi Duga Operasi Militer di Nduga Langgar HAM".]