Benny Mawel, Jayapura, Jubi – The Papuan Church Council conveyed on Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021, some of its findings related to the escalated armed conflict in six regencies in Papua and West Papua, namely Intan Jaya, Bintang Mountains, Nduga, Yahukimo, Puncak, and Maybrat.
The council said that the Indonesian Military (TNI) and police continued to sweep in civilian settlements looking for members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB). As a result, many civilians in the six regencies fled to the forest or neighboring regency, to avoid any contact with the security forces.
"More than 60,000 people have been displaced. Many children and mothers have been victims and died while in the evacuation camps," said chair of the Synod of West Papua Baptist Churches Rev. Sokrates Sofyan Yoman while reading the appeal of the Papuan Church Council along with other council representatives, namely Synod of Evangelical Churches in Indonesia (GIDI) chair Rev. Dorman Wandikbo, GKI Synod in Papua chair Rev. Andrikus Mofu, and the moderator of the Papuan Church Council, Rev. Benny Giay, who is also a member of the evangelical KINGMI Papua Church.
The Papuan Church Council said that in the second week of October, security forces allegedly dropped bombs in Pelebib Village, Kiwi Village, Delpem Village, and Lolim Village, which caused 5,000 residents took refuge in nearby forests and villages, some even crossed into neighboring Papua New Guinea (PNG).
The attack on the Military Post in Kisor District, Maybrat Regency by the TPNPB on Sept. 2 resulted in four TNI members being killed. Following the incident, the TNI sent additional troops to Maybrat and displaced at least 2,768 people.
Data from the Papuan Church Council said that the TNI and police followed up by arresting 34 civilians, 31 of whom were detained. Eight people were later named suspects in the attack on the Kisor Military Post. Of the eight people named as suspects, five are university students, four are children, one is a teenager, and three others are adults.
Among the 23 residents who were detained and then released, there were also 11 children and a baby. The total number of children who have been victims of violence and arrested by the security forces regarding the attack on Kisor is 17.
"We also received a report that one person died in the evacuation camp. A total of 15 members of congregations of GKI and 11 Catholic chapelries could not return to their villages. The villages around Aifat are empty," said the council.
Armed conflict also occurred in Yahukimo right after the security forces deployed troops there. The soldiers arrested and shot Senat Soli, one of the TPNPB leaders. He was shot in the leg and died at the Bhayangkara Hospital, a hospital belonging to the Papuan Police on July 27.
TPNPB members in Yahukimo then attacked TNI members on Nov. 20. During the attack, soldier First Sgt. Ari Baskoro died and Capt. Arfiandi Sukamto injured.
Meanwhile in Puncak, armed conflict occurred from the beginning of the year until today. The Papuan Church Council recorded 16 civilians were victims of shootings and killings. At the same time, there were also victims among the TNI and police, as well as members of the TPNPB. As a result of this conflict, around 3,000 people from more than 23 villages in Puncak left their homes.
Ever since the TPNPB shot dead Papua intelligence chief Brig. Gen. I Gusti Putu Danny Nugraha Karya in Puncak's Beoga on April 25, the TNI and police have been continuously adding troops in the area. These soldiers even occupy several government offices and churches.
"We received reports from the congregation that the security forces took items from residents' houses, which have left empty as the people fled. The report says they sold them in Ilaga," said Rev. Yoman.
Meanwhile, armed conflict in Nduga has occurred since December 2018 and still going. Over the past three years, 47,000 members of the congregation have been displaced. The Papuan Church Council recorded 295 civilians died. Apart from being shot by the security forces, most of them died during the evacuation due to the unavailability of food and medicine.
The Papuan Church Council asked the United Nations to step into the Papua conflict. "We ask the Human Rights Council of UN to come to Papua, to firsthand see the situation of the Papuan people's suffering of 58 years," Rev. Yoman said.
The council also asked President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to solve Papua conflict by taking a similar approach when resolving an armed conflict with the Free Aceh Movement in 2005. The council urged Jokowi to fulfill his commitment in 2019 to meet the pro-Papuan independence group, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua. (*)