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Papuan leader says Indonesia intensifying military operations

Radio New Zealand - June 26, 2023

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua says Indonesia is once again ramping up military operations in its Papuan provinces.

The movement's interim-president Benny Wenda said 19 members of the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB) were taken into custody on June 9 and have been charged with treason.

Fighting between Indonesian security forces and the military wing of the movement, the West Papua Liberation Army, has intensified since the Papuan rebels took New Zealand pilot, Phillip Mehrtens, hostage in February.

Last month Reuters reported Indonesian army spokesperson Brigadier General Prantara Santosa saying 400 soldiers from the battle-hardened 315/Garuda Battalion, nicknamed 'Satan's troops' after taking part in bloody conflicts in East Timor, were deployed to Papua after a breakdown in dialogue with separatists.

Wenda is calling on Indonesia to allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights access to the Papuan provinces along with all foreign journalists and non-government organisations.

"West Papuans have suffered greatly over the past few months due to this military escalation," he said.

"Civilians in Intan Jaya, Puncak Jaya, and other rural areas are living under martial law, with roaming bands of Indonesian soldiers acting with total impunity. Life in West Papua is now defined by surveillance, torture, and arbitrary arrest.

"The arrest of these KNPB members is yet another example of what Indonesia's military 'combat alert' means for West Papua."

Source: https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/492620/papuan-leader-says-indonesia-intensifying-military-operation