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Indonesian Army Shoot Mother and 3 Children in “Crossfire” in West Papua

July 20, 2011

scoop.co.nz [New Zealand]
Monday, July 18, 2011

Indonesian Army Shoot Mother And 3 Children In “Crossfire”

Indonesian Army (TNI) troops have shot 3 young children and a mother
in Puncak Jaya, West Papua, in the latest atrocities carried out
during a two-week military offensive aimed at ending armed resistance
to Indonesian Rule over the occupied colony.

Indonesian Army shoot mother and 3 children in “crossfire” in Kalome,
West Papua, as offensive escalates

by Nick Chesterfield, with local sources and agencies

Indonesian Army (TNI) troops have shot 3 young children and a mother
in Puncak Jaya, West Papua, in the latest atrocities carried out
during a two-week military offensive aimed at ending armed resistance
to Indonesian Rule over the occupied colony.

Ny Dekimira, 50, was hit on the right foot, and the three children –
Jitoban Wenda 4, and their neighbors Dekimin Wenda, 3, and Dimison
Wenda, 8 – all had bullets hit their left legs after Indonesian troops
fired indiscriminately into the honai (huts) just before dawn on July
14, according to local witnesses.

Credible reports about the scale of the offensive are beginning to
filter through from the remote and inaccessible area about the scale
of the offensive The Indonesian government has closed off access to
the Tingginambut district to both Indonesian and foreign human rights
and media observers, and local activists have had to march for days
across rugged terrain to get out verified information. Local human
rights observers and Papuan activists have independently reported to
West Papua Media that TNI headquarters staff have threatened their
safety if they alert journalists to abuses carried out by Indonesian
security forces against West Papuan people.

Undeterred, the mass based Papuan activist network West Papua National
Committee (KNPB) have accused the Indonesian Military “under the
regime of General Susilo Bambang Yudhoyhono” of manipulating the
situation in Puncak Jaya to conduct military domination and control of
the local population, despite the recent public relations offensive
that it was engaged in “bakti” social service campaigns to help the
people. According the KNPB, the TNI should not cover up their mistakes
and militarism by engaging in social activities – they should cease
military activities on civilians altogether.

“Their reasons make no sense, because it’s so funny that the military
themselves who set fire to the houses of citizens in almost all
settlements, Indonesian military who burned alive the people’s
animals, burned residents’ gardens; and now the TNI and Police are
trying to justify themselves as heroes by playing a cheap propaganda
in the media, ” said a KNPB spokesperson on Saturday.

TribuneNews.com quoted the TPN Secretary General for the Highlands
Area, General Anthony Wenda, saying that villagers reported the
shooting in Kalome on July 7 happened before dawn when residents were
still asleep. “At that time, we’re on guard night and day in Kalome,
and a barrage of bullets from the TNI were directed into a house of
children and the elderly,” said Wenda to Tribunnews.com. “We always
will be ready to make contact with TNI weapons until we are free,
because this is the struggle of our people of West Papua.”

After this shootout, the force reportedly involving over 600 soldiers
from the notorious 753 Battalion based in Nabire, have sought to
enforce their control over the rugged and remote district. 753
Battlalion’s operations in the Kalome area reached international
infamy in 2010 when troops tortured and killed Rev Kindeman Gire, and
also with the torture of Tunaliwor Kiwo. Kiwo’s torture, captured on
video and uploaded to Youtube, created outrage that shone an
international spotlight on the TNI’s behaviour against civilians in
Papua. The Indonesian government was later caught red-handed as it
switched the defendants in the torture trial widely seen as farcical,
and ran a military trial on issues of discipline instead of human
rights abuses. Since this time, TPN fighters been permanently around
the village for protection. However, the TPN are poorly armed and
their hardware is no match for a fully equipped modern military.

The current offensive comes as the Indonesian military is attempting
to convince international observers that it is improving its human
rights practice. Last week, as troops were engaging both civilians and
fighters from the National Liberation Army (TPN-PB), the commander of
the TNI in West Papua,

Major General Erfi Triassunu, was duplicitous in speaking about ending
impunity and abuses by its soldiers at the Jakarta-sponsored Papua
Peace Network (Jaringan Damai Papua or JDP) conference in Jayapura. Dr
Neles Tebay and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), the
organisers of the conference, were apparently unaware of the
contradiction at this time, a contributing factor in the boycott or
skepticism of the Peace Talks by the majority of Papuan representative
organisations.

Yet according to the KNPB, one of the several sectors suspicious of
the JDP, this peace process is illegitimate. “Do not imagine Peace
(will be brought) by the JDP, Indonesian Government through Governor,
DPRP, TNI or the police in Papua. Because in reality, Papua is a
military zone by their physical and systematic actions done to destroy
the Papuans and to control this region for the glory of foreign
investors.”

According to Tribunnews.com, Maj-Gen Triassunu conceded that troops
may have shot the Kalome villagers. “The possibility exists, but we
have not received a report from our post in Puncak Jaya”. Triassunu
denied the incident in Kalome was proof that civilians were targeted.
“We just pursued the TPN OPM in mountainous regions, because Papua is
part of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia,” he told Tribune News.

However, the Head of Information Department of the Army (Kadispenad)
Brigadier General Wiryantoro would not comment on this allegation.
“It’s related to operations of TNI forces deployment. When it comes to
coaching the Army personnel, or related to the pure strength of the
army, I can not answer” (Tribunnews.com)

When contacted by West Papua Media, no spokespeople for either the
Indonesian military or Police made themselves available for comment on
the allegations of the offensive, nor were replies made to telephone
voice and text messages, or emailed questions.

West Papua Media also has made a decision to protect the identity of
its sources*, as they have reported significant threats to their
safety. Political activists reporting on the events have also come
under significant threat. Victor Yeimo from the KNPB reports that when
the Press Conference for local and national journalists to report on
the Puncak Jaya incidents was called, phone and physical threats were
received from persons claiming to be Pangdam (Indonesian Army Regional
Commander), and Police. Yeimo reports that these callers forced KNPB
to cancel the press conference about the case in Puncak Jaya. “Many
journalists did not come after they terrorized by the Indonesian
Military,” said Yeimo.

Siege Conditions may create humanitarian crisis

Credible local clandestine activists have relayed reports to West
Papua Media of the TNI laying siege to several villages in the
immediate area of Kalome, but they cannot get close enough to verify
any casualties, displacement or destruction. With village sieges and
actions on other villages in the past having caused significant
displacement, local human rights observers fully expect the civilian
death toll to rise significantly.

Hundreds of people have reportedly fled to neighbouring villages or to
the hills, and observers have expressed concern that in the depths of
winter, with their food crops destroyed, locally people internally
displaced who may have no alternative to seek refuge in higher ground,
may succumb to starvation or exposure. The areas high in the cloud
forests and above the treeline are not suitable for sheltering large
numbers of people, as they have been denuded by countless thousands of
internally displaced refugees from previous military offensives.

Since the first aerial bombing campaigns by the Indonesian Air Force
in 1978 in Puncak Jaya, almost every year from July to August, the TNI
has launched offensives against civilians across the highlands. An
identical offensive in 2003 was investigated by Komnas HAM (Indonesian
National Human Rights Commission), which found that the
Australian-trained Kopassus special forces committed gross human
rights abuses and crimes against humanity. Similar offensives occurred
in 2005, 2006, and 2007, which forced several thousand people into
famine conditions high in the mountains, above the treeline. Last year
also marked a particularly brutal operation, only noted by foreign
media due to the inescapable viral distribution of the torture videos.

In light of the allegations of brutality by the TNI in Kalome,
independence activists are also challenging the notion that the armed
resistance practiced by Tabuni’s forces is terrorism. According to a
KNPB spokesman, “The TPN under the Goliat Tabuni continues to
struggle, not for a personal profit nor to legitimise the habit of TNI
and POLRI to obtain security protection payments. The struggle is
resistance to colonial occupation by Indonesia of West Papua,
especially in Puncak Jaya … the reason the TPN was formed”

The recent deaths of TNI and Police.in Puncak Jaya is the fault of the
generals in the view of the KNPB, who say that their policies and
command structure sacrifice the members of it security apparatus.
“Victims will continue to fall if SBY and (TNI Command) prioritize
militaristic ways to solve West Papua’s problems, by dropping hundreds
of soldiers everyday to Puncak Jaya”.

“If SBY does not take political will to solve the problem of West
Papua immediately (by allowing an) act of self determination via a
referendum then human rights violations will continue to occur,”
stated the KNPB spokesman.

West Papua Media was this week contacted by a retired European
missionary who had formerly served in Puncak Jaya regency who was
concerned about the current situation. He offered the following
comments on condition of anonymity, as he is concerned for reprisals
for his former colleagues:

“Burning villages, causing people to flee with nothing but the clothes
they wear, creating absolute terror amongst ordinary people,
condemning babies to die starving and frozen hiding from the soldiers
high in the mountains, killing and torturing priests and laymen alike…
who are the real terrorists? This is not new, this slaughter happens
every year since Indonesia first came – they are not hunting
guerrillas, they are hunting Papuans until they are dead. Whilst we
might not always agree with the strategies employed by TPN, and that
we pray for a peaceful solution, they are a legitimate army of
national liberation there to protect their people in the absence of
any international concern.”

West Papua Media will continue to provide monitoring and coverage of
this evolving situation. Please send any tips or corrections to
editorwestpapuamedia.info

*Please note: bona fide journalists can be provided with sources if
they are doing a story on this issue, but for their safety, their
identities are strictly not for publication.

“Burning villages, causing people to flee with nothing but the clothes
they wear, creating absolute terror amongst ordinary people,
condemning babies to die starving and frozen hiding from the soldiers
high in the mountains, killing and torturing priests and laymen alike…
who are the real terrorists? This is not new, this slaughter happens
every year since Indonesia first came – they are not hunting
guerrillas, they are hunting Papuans until they are dead. Whilst we
might not always agree with the strategies employed by TPN, and that
we pray for a peaceful solution, they are a legitimate army of
national liberation there to protect their people in the absence of
any international concern.”

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