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Home » » Trouble In West Papua's highlands

Trouble In West Papua's highlands

Written By Voice Of Baptist Papua on June 25, 2008 | 11:27 PM

OceaniaA Humanitarian Crisis is emerging in the Punjak Jaya region of West Papua. Human rights workers state that the local population has fled the regions of Tingginabbut, Yamu, Illu and Mulia Ambat in mid December 2006 and have gone into the jungle. At this stage no figures are avaiable but indications are that thousands of people are involved.

The Christmas Military Offensive and Humanitarian Crisis in Pucak Jaya, West Papua

by Matthew Jamieson

http://www.newmatilda.com/home/articledetail.asp?ArticleID=2009

A Humanitarian Crisis is emerging in the Punjak Jaya region of West Papua. Human rights workers state that the local population has fled the regions of Tingginabbut, Yamu, Illu and Mulia Ambat in mid December 2006 and have gone into the jungle. At this stage no figures are avaiable but indications are that thousands of people are involved.

Since the 24 December 2006 there has been the deployment of large numbers of Indonesian armed forces, intelligence & police in the mountainous Punjak Jaya region. The personnel are drawn form TNI Battalion 756 from Wamena, TNI Battalion 753 from Nabire, Kopassus (Indonesian army commando’s), Brimob (Police Mobile Brigade), Polres (Local Police) and Intelligence agencies BIN & BAIS were being deployed in the days after Christmas 06.

Two Indonesian military personnel were killed near Mulia, on December 9 2006. These military personnel were apparently undertaking some form of negotiation with the Goliat Tabuni OPM/TPN (Free Papua Movement) group. Two more Indonesian military personnel involved in search from Illu to Mulia were killed on 25/26 December near to the Yami River.

Sources near Mulia report that on 5 Janurary 2007 5 Kopassus (Indonesian Special Commandos) and one OPM/TPN figher were killed in a military operation at Kimibak Mountain near Mulia. The Military Commander of Battalion 1705 was said to be monitoring operations in that same area on that day. Kimibak Mountain is the same area that OPM/TPN had perviously had a flag raising campaign.

Conflict between Indonesian army & Brimob & the OPM/TPN was also reported in the Muliabur area on 3 January 2007.

The Indonesian military & police are now occupy and are living in the vacated villages in the regions of Tingginabbut, Yamu, Illu and Mulia Ambat.

The people displaced by the conflict are said to be traveling across the mountains east and north to Sinak, Illaga, Kwiwyaga and Bioga Districts. It is currently wet or rainy season in this area and these very rugged mountain areas are mostly 2000 - 4000 meters.

The people would have left behind their pigs and gardens. There is concern about their health and welling being as they will have little access to food and no medicine.

The life of traditional rural communities in Punjak Jaya is based on subsistence farming of sweet potato and pigs in very remote mountain valleys. First contact with these mountain communities with the western world happened via Christian Missionaries who bought Christianity and converted these communities from the mid 1950’s onwards.

In the recent years similar repeated military operations from 2003 to 2005 in the Punjak Jaya region have caused major catastrophe in the local community.

During a period of military operations, in 2003, ten local people were killed and sixty deaths reported from starvation directly due to famine caused by these military operations. In 2004 and 2005 over 6000 persons were reported displaced by military operations. Hundreds of homes, churches, clinics and schools burned to the ground.

Traditional warriors, who form the OPM/TPN are armed with bows and arrows and spears and a few firearms. Any conflict between them and the Indonesian militiary would appear to be very one sided.

Human rights workers say that the Indonesian military and police justify their presence and repressive actions by manipulating, promoting and extending conflict with these warriors from the OPM/TPN.

Rev Socratez Yoman President of the Baptist Church in Papua report released this week has described the presence of a fake OPM in Punjak Jaya. “Most of the people trained by the Indonesian military as fake OPM do not have enough education. Thus, these people were used by the Indonesian military to achieve their political goals in West Papua.The fake OPM was created, protected and was allowed to do the Indonesian military and the Indonesian Police projects.”

There is a sense amongst the highland people that their communities will be swamped by Indonesia in the next few years. The culture and population of these mountain people is being destroyed by direct government action, such as by the military and the disarray these operations cause and by the lack of Government action in critical areas, such as control of AIDS/HIV and the provision of basic health services for other communicable diseases such as Cholera.

The one sided conflict with the highland people has to be stopped and not by Indonesia annihilating local communities with armed forces and willful neglect. There is evidence of serious and systemic Human Rights abuse. There is evidence that the International crime of Genocide has and is occurring in West Papua and there is reason why the international community has a legal obligation to be involved in West Papua.

Members of the International community must ask Indonesian what is happening in the Puncak Jaya region and prepare Parliamentary and diplomatic delegations to travel to West Papua and specifically to the Punjak Jaya region as soon as possible. A major humanitarian tragedy is unfolding and the presence of such an overseas delegation is probably the only way Indonesia will restrain its military forces in Punjak Jaya.

About the author

Matthew Jamieson is a member of the Institute for Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights.

http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=20070116195619251
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