1 person killed and 3 others shot by the Indonesian military at West Papuan church

April 7, 2018

In the ongoing Indonesian military operations in the Tembagapura district of West Papua, at least 1 West Papuan civilian has been killed and several others have been wounded by Indonesian soldiers.

Indonesian soldier standing in front of a burned down West Papuan house in the Tembagapura district. Photo: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Speaking to BBC Indonesia, Pastor Deserius Adii in the Banti village church said that  Timotius Omabak was shot dead and three others were wounded when the Indonesian military burst into the building and opened fire.

The Chairman of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), Victor Yeimo states “Every time Indonesian security forces launch an operation, the result is civilian casualties. The Indonesian military severely lacks and understanding of the principles of war, where civilians cannot be targeted. Doesn’t the Indonesian military have eyes to see that they were civilians?”, said Victor.

BBC Indonesia reports: “Responding to the counter accusations between government forces and pro-independence groups, Manokwari Legal Aid Assessment, Research and Development Institute (LP3BH) Director Yan Christian Warinussy insisted that an independent investigation is needed.

“I think we must give access to humanitarian workers, human rights defenders who are with human rights institutions including Komnas HAM [National Human Rights Commission], in order to conduct an investigation”, said Yan.

Indonesian soldier in a village in the Tembagapura district. Photo: Supplied.

He highlighted the fact that the dissemination of information on West Papua is dominated by senior military and police officers, including allegations that civilians are falling victim because pro-independence groups are using people as human shields.

“I just don’t see that our sisters and brothers who are categorised by the government as armed civilian groups use [people as] shields. Because none of the physical evidence is obtained in a balanced manner”, said Yan.

“We hear a lot of talk from senior military and police officers. But we never get information from journalists who interview groups who oppose the state so we can’t get information that is balanced”, he added.

West Papuans in the area have claimed that the Indonesian military has been burning houses in villages in the Tembagapura area, whereas the Indonesian military claims that houses are being burned by “separatists”. The lack of media on the ground to verify reports illustrates the urgent need for international media access to West Papua.

In the lead up to World Press Freedom Day 2018, it is ever more pressing that the Indonesian government immediately allow foreign journalists into West Papua.