Hengky Yeimo, Jayapura, Jubi – Papua is a land dubbed a small paradise that fell to earth. But nowadays, Papua no longer looks like the little paradise that Indigenous Papuans yearn for. Conflicts, shootings, and violence continue to occur and haunt the daily lives of Indigenous Papuans.
Ever since the integration of Papua into Indonesia, violence has continued to occur. The firefights between the Indonesian Military (TNI) and police and the West Papua National Liberation Army/Free Papua Organization (TPNPB/OPM) have been happening more frequently lately. The impact is not only the death of the warring parties but also innocent civilians.
The same pattern of violence always repeats itself and even becomes a cycle that continues from time to time. Papuans continue to be victims of human rights violations and experience discrimination and intimidation. Civilians – especially those who are victims of human rights violations, descendants of political prisoners, and children of TPNPB/OPM combatants – have never received justice from the State. Time and again, thousands of Indigenous Papuan civilians have had to flee, for fear of becoming victims, or wrongly targeted, in the increasingly heated armed conflict.
The prolonged conflict has traumatized Papuan people. The trauma caused the children of OPM activists and victims of human rights violations to choose to fight against what the authorities had done to their families. On the other hand, the State has never complied with requests for peaceful dialogue from various parties. Various efforts have been made by Papuans to find solutions, including proposing a dialogue. However, the resolution to make Papua a land of peace has never happened.
The conflict in Papua has stripped off the basic human rights of the Papuan people. The shootings between the security force and TPNPB often occur in the middle of the children's playground. In Papua's central mountains area, such as the regencies of Intan Jaya, Puncak, Paniai, Bintang Mountains, and Nduga, new conflicts continue to emerge, creating new trauma for local residents, especially children who witnessed their parents being killed.
The International Coalition for Papua (ICP)'s fifth report recorded the violence that occurred from January 2015 to December 2016. The report said there were 16 cases of extrajudicial killings that occurred during that year. The same report said that only one murder case was legally processed in military court.
The Indonesian government has shown no commitment to prosecute its security forces who allegedly become perpetrators of violence. Violence in Papua is only met with violence, without solving the real roots of the problem. The government, for example, does not pull any efforts to heal the trauma of victims of violence and human rights violations.
ICP's seventh report provides an analysis of violence that occurred in Papua from January 2019 to December 2020. The report also presents data compiled by the ICP and West Papua-Netzwerk regarding the number of armed conflicts in West Papua between 2017 and 2020.
The document said that the number of armed conflicts in 2017 was 24 cases and increased to 44 cases in 2018. In 2019, there were 33 cases, and 64 cases in 2020. The number of security forces who were injured in 2017 was 8 people, 15 people in 2018. 12 people in 2019, and 10 people in 2020. The number of fatalities from the TPNPB in 2017 was two people, increased to 12 people in 2018, 14 people In 2019, and 14 TPNPB members died in 2020. While the number of TPNPB soldiers who were injured in 2017 was two people, four people in 2018, and one person in 2020.
However, the number of casualties on the civilian side was more than double the number of victims from conflicting parties. The ICP data recorded the civilian casualties caused by the armed conflict in Papua, both victims of violence and victims who died due to various reasons while evacuating or being in refugee camps. In 2017 there were three civilians who died, all of them were victims of violence allegedly carried out by the TPNPB.
In 2018, that number jumped to 62 victims. A total of 25 people died as victims of alleged violence by the TPNPB, while 17 others were victims of alleged violence by the TNI and police. Moreover, there were 20 internally displaced people who died in evacuation camps.
In 2019, there were 216 cases of civilian deaths due to armed conflict in Papua. Of that number, seven people were allegedly killed by the TPNPB and 13 allegedly killed by the security forces. There were also 196 civilians who died in refugee camps.
Throughout 2020, there were 213 civilian fatalities of the armed conflict. As many as seven civilians died of violence allegedly carried out by the TPNPB. There were also 20 civilians who were allegedly killed by the TNI and police. Meanwhile, the number of displaced people who died was 186.
ICP data said that in 2017, there were 12 civilians injured due to the Papua conflict, three people were victims of violence allegedly committed by TPNPB combatants, and nine other people were victims of the security forces' alleged violence. In 2018, 15 civilians were injured, seven of which were allegedly injured by the TPNPB and eight people were allegedly injured by the security forces.
In 2019, nine civilians were injured, all of whom were victims of alleged violence by the security forces. While in 2020, 26 civilians were injured, 16 of whom were allegedly victims of the TPNPB, and ten others were allegedly victims of the TNI and police.
Sindonews.com on January 17, 2022, reported a statement by the National Commission on Human Rights' head of the Bureau of Support for Enforcement, Gatot Ristanto, who said there were 53 violent incidents that occurred in Papua throughout 2021. These events resulted in 47 victims, 24 of whom died. Ristanto said that the violence was carried out by both the TPNPB and the TNI and police, including shootings, torture with sharp weapons, and burning or destroying buildings.
Meanwhile, Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Mathius Fakhiri told tribunnews.com that 46 people had died during the armed conflict in 2021. He said there were 29 cases of violence allegedly carried out by armed groups in Puncak, Nduga, Intan Jaya, Yahukimo, and Bintang Mountains. Fakhiri detailed that the death toll was 19 people from civilians, 11 TNI soldiers, four police, and 12 members of the TPNPB.