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Calls for justice: The arrest of two teenagers in West Papua sparks outrage

BNN Breaking - February 26, 2024

Waqas Arain – Imagine you're 15 again, the world is your playground, and your biggest worry is what game to play next. Now, imagine that abruptly ending as you find yourself in handcuffs, accused of being part of a violent incident far beyond the innocent games of childhood.

This is not a hypothetical for two teenagers in Dekai District, Yahukimo Regency, who found themselves in the iron grip of a joint military and police force on February 22, 2024. Their alleged crime? Being present at a location that became the site of a fatal encounter between state enforcers and a member of the National Liberation Army of West Papua-Free Papua Movement (TPNPB-OPM).

The incident unraveled

According to the spokesperson for the TPNPB-OPM, Sebby Sambom, the teenagers, identified only as MH and BGE, were engaged in the innocuous activities of bathing in the Brasa River and picking bananas when they were apprehended. The arrest took a grim turn with the shooting death of Otniel Giban, an active member of the TPNPB-OPM, by the arresting forces. Sambom emphasizes that Giban was unarmed at the time, found only with a traditional Papuan bag and a cellphone. The teenagers, he argues, were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, with no involvement in the movement or the preceding events leading to the altercation.

Evidence in question

The narrative surrounding the teenagers' arrest is further complicated by the items found in their possession. Ammunition and other evidence, purportedly linking them to a shooting incident involving a Wings Air plane on February 17, were claimed by Sambom to belong to the military and police, not the teenagers. This accusation raises serious questions about the validity of the charges against MH and BGE, who are currently detained at the Yahukimo Police Station, labeled as witnesses to the shooting incident.

International attention and calls for release

The arrest of the teenagers has not gone unnoticed by the international community. West Papua advocacy groups have vehemently condemned the actions of the Indonesian security forces, describing the arrest and subsequent treatment of MH and BGE as a grave humiliation. The groups echo Sambom's demands for the immediate release of the teenagers, advocating for their rights as civilians caught in a conflict they neither understand nor are a part of.

The situation in Dekai District underscores a larger, more profound issue plaguing regions embroiled in conflict: the vulnerability of innocents caught between the crossfire of opposing forces. As the international community watches closely, the fate of MH and BGE hangs in the balance, a stark reminder of the human cost of conflict and the urgent need for justice and accountability.

Source: https://bnnbreaking.com/world/indonesia/calls-for-justice-the-arrest-of-two-teenagers-in-west-papua-sparks-outrag