“This year, so far, 22 West Papua National Committee (KNPB) members have been killed; three are missing; seven have been charged with various offences, as tensions linger.”
— Michael Bachelard, The Age
Detachment-88 shoot and arrest KNPB leaders near Wamena as tensions rise
A West Papua National Committee (KNPB) activist has been killed, and a farmer has died from his wounds in hospital, after being shot following raids by members of the Australian-trained anti-terror unit Detachment-88 on December 16. At least six activists were also arrested, according to multiple sources.
KNPB activist Hubertus Mabel (aged 30) died shortly after being taken by police to the hospital after they shot him at 10:30 am in a village outside Wamena. Local farmer Natalis Alua (34) died in coma after being shot in the same incident, according to latest reports from human rights sources in Wamena.
According to journalist Victor Mambor and confirmed by both the police and Victor Yeimo (National KNPB Chairman):
“Police told me that Hubert was shot in the leg at 9:30 (morning). Hubert was taken to hospital by police and then died at the hospital because of loss of blood…. At 6:00 (afternoon), the police claimed Hubert had died in hospital.”
“Some people in the village where Hubert was shot told us police entered the village in full force. They brought two people who had been arrested before (Meky Kogoya and Wene Gombo) to the village to tell them where Hubert lived.”
At 9:00 am, the same joint police/army and Detachment-88 squad conducted a armed raid in the village of Kosi Hubi Holima, in Wamena.
KNPB Wamena Chairman Simion Daby was arrested with human rights activist Baroy Sambon, Meki Jikwa (Kogoya), John Huby, Pie Huby, Herae Huby, and Ima Mebel, allegedly at the house of Meky Kogoya, who was accused by police of being responsible for a bombing incident in Wamena. They were all taken forcefully to police headquarters.
It is believed that human rights worker Baroy Sambon was arrested as he was trying to alert international media to the situation, but this has not been verified.
The KNPB have repeatedly denied involvement in planning or carrying out acts of violence or bombings in Papua, a view supported by the Churches, human rights organisations and legal networks in Papua.
Police have yet to provide any credible evidence that shows their involvement, despite millions of dollars being provided to Detachment-88 by Australia for forensic evidence analysis.
Alleged TPN retaliation questioned
There have been reports of an alleged West Papuan National Liberation Army (TPN) retaliation against police over the shooting of Hubertus Mabel, but human rights workers have cast doubt on the involvement of TPN forces, instead accusing Indonesian security forces of acting up to continue to create a false scenario for conflict.
According to a report in Tabloid Jubi, the sound of gunfire could still be heard up to 11:00 pm on 16 December in Wamena.
“On 10.25pm, there was an exchange of fire between the TPN-OPM (the military wing of the OPM) and the TNI/Polri, Indonesian army and police, somewhere between Misi Market and Sinakma, Yusodarso Road. The situation in Wamena was said to be tense and there were calls for help.”
A local resident, Yason, confirmed reports of the sound of gunfire which was continuing. It is alleged that this was in response to the shooting of Hubertus Mabel.
Another local resident named Vita told JUBI that the local police station had been burned down in response to the shooting of Hubertus Mabel. According to Vita,
‘Mabel and member of the KNPB was shot by the security forces as he was suspected of a bombing the Wamena, which led to the police station being burned down.’
The local police chief later confirmed to JUBI that there had been an exchange of fire, but West Papua Media was unable to find any witnesses or evidence that any armed TPN unit was in the area.
However long time human rights worker Markus Haluk told West Papua Media that local investigators had been visiting witnesses and have compiled a chronology that sits at odds with this account.
What Actually Happened
According to Haluk, at around 8pm local time, a number of drunk people set fire to one market stall. At 11:00 pm local time, police arrived on the scene with the Deputy Chief of Jayawijaya Police and opened fire with a barrage of shots with no clear target apart from civilians who had gathered.
Police then moved to the Dewan Adat Papua offices less than a kilometre from the scene, and set fire to them in retaliation, despite the burning market stalls having no connection to either the DAP leader or council staff.
Markus Haluk said that:
“[the] Alleged drunks burning kiosks in the market (is) scripted by the security forces to divert attention from the arrests and shootings of civilians and KNPB activists, and is a conscious Scenario consciously to burn the office and create psychological pressure against the leaders and members of the Papuan Customary Council Lani Pago Baliem Region.”
Local human rights workers believe this latest round of security force misbehaviour is due to the payment to the new Papua Police Chief Tito Karnavian (former Detachment-88 commander) of Ten Billion Rupiah (approx US$1 million) from the Papuan Governors office, for the provision of “Phase″ security for the Papuan Gubernatorial Election campaign, which was also earmarked to maintain a peaceful environment in the lead-up to Christmas.
“Many parties are upset with these incidents. The shooting in Wamena occurred on Sunday, when people were heading to the church to worship. While the arson of the DAP offices were done in the middle of the night, when the community was quiet for the night.”
An exasperated Haluk told West Papua Media:
“On receipt of the funds, the Papua Police Chief conveyed the importance of maintaining the security and peace of Christmas and the election of Governor. Instead, he led police officers making arrests, shootings and arson of Balim Traditional Council offices.”
Anniversary of the Assassination of Kelly Kwalik
These arrests come amidst a major series of operations by Indonesian security forces across Papua on the anniversary of the Detachment-88 assassination of legendary TPN guerrilla leader Kelly Kwalik on December 16, 2009.
Heavily armed Detachment-88 personnel, including an unidentified Australian man, were seen to be guarding Kelly Kwalik’s tomb to prevent a memorial service from being held to commemorate the anniversary of Kwalik’s extrajudicial execution.