Bloody Yotefa: Arbitrary arrests, torture and death

31 Oct 2014
JPIC Desk, GKI TP Synod Office

Violent Incident at Yotefa Market Abepura Ends with Arribitary Arrests, Torture and the Deaths of 3 Papuan Men, 20/08/2014

On Wednesday, 2 July 2014 between 15.00 and 18.00 o'clock East Indonesia Time, police men released shots at a public transport vehicle and its passengers at the Yotefa Market Abepura and arbitrarily arrested, tortured as well as allowed the torture of 4 Papuan men from the Papuan Central Highlands. Moreover, 3 other Papuan men from the Central Highlands were killed in different locations around Yotefa Market, as the sweeping at Yotefa Market was carried out. The incidents took place after a police officer named Asriadi died during a riot, which had occurred as police officers tried to arrest several men, engaging in dice gambling at the Yotefa Market, Abepura.

Identity of Victims

Table with Identity of Victims, related to Initiating Incident at Yotefa Market Abepura

No Name                               Age      Sex        Occupation                                          Location of Incident

I Dead Victims

1. Yenias Wanimbo                20         Male      Student                                                  In front of Yamas Campus, Tanah Hitam (Abepura)
2. Demy Kepno                      28         Male      Student at STIKOM YAPIS University     In front of Multi Grosir, Tanah Hitam (Abepura)
                                                                        Jayapura
3. Sabusek Kabak                 24          Male     Law student at Umel Mandiri                  In front of Bank Papua, Yotefa Market (Abepura)
                                                                         University Jayapura

II Victims of Torture and Arbitrary Arrest

4. Meki Pahabol                    14         Male      Farmer                                                    Yotefa Market Abepura
5. Asman Pahabol                17         Male      Farmer                                                     Kilo 9, Koya
6. Yan Urbanus Pahabol      35         Male      Farmer                                                     Kilo 9, Koya
7. Abis Kabak                       20         Male      Farmer                                                     Yotefa Market Abepura

Case Narrative

On Wednesday, 2 July 2014, around 15.00 East Indonesia Time, several people were gambling with dice games in front of the public bus terminal in midst of people selling or doing their daily groceries at Yotefa Market. As dua police men approached the gamblers and wanted to stop the dice game, the situation escalated into physical confrontation. As surrounding people saw the incident they started to beat up the police officers, which caused the death of police officer Asriadi and the loss of his fire arm[1]. After the incident all merchants and buyers fled the market to seek shelter.

Two hours after this incident, police forces conducted sweeping operations and carried out arbitrary arrests at Yotefa Market and several residential areas, where mainly Papuans from the highlands have settled down, e.g. Kilo 9 (Koya) and areas at Tanah Hitam (Abepura). According to victims' testimonies the police fired three warning shots and then opened fire at a public bus with passengers, which was about to leave for Koya. Driven by fear, one of the passengers named Meki Pahabol left the car, whereas the other passengers decided to stay inside the bus. As Meki tried to leave the vehicle surrounding migrants began to beat him with bare hands, tools, and sticks while police officers allowed the maltreatments to proceed. Subsequently police forces forcefully dragged one of the passengers named Abis Kabak out of the bus and handed him over to a group of migrants, who instantly began to beat and chase Abis Kabak with bare hands, hammers, wooden sticks and sharp weapons. In the meanwhile Meki Pahabol tried escaped to a different direction as he while being chased, beaten and stabbed by a second group of migrants. The incidents were witnessed by several police men who tolerated the torture of Abis Kabak and Meki Pahabol without intervening.

At the same time of the police sweeping, carried out at Yotefa Market after the riot, 3 Papuans fromthe central highlands became victims of extrajudicial-killings. The dead body of Sabusek Kabak was found the same day in the afternoon, in front of a branch office of Papua Bank near Yotefa Market, and then brought to Bhanyangkara Regional Police Hospital. According to his friends' testimonies, the student was on the way from Liboran Dormitory Abepura to Kilo 9, Koya. Yenias Wendikbo was killed in front of YAMAS campus, approximately 100 meters from Yotefa Market, as he was on his way home from Enggros Beach. The cause of death was a blow to the back of the head and forehead. Demy Kepno was kidnapped in front of Multigrosir supermarket (Tanah Hitam, Abepura) around 16:30 by several men in plainclothes, who approached the victim with a grey mini van (Toyota Avanza). The kidnapping was witnessed by Demi's girlfriend. Later the dead body of Demi Kepno was brought to Bhayagkara police hospital with several gunshot wounds in the abdomen and back, a large slash wound at the victim's right shoulder and bruises in the face, caused by a blunt object.

According to a police spokesman, the police carried out the sweepings because a dead officer' s fire arm disappeared during the riot. Two torture victims still need medical treatment until one 6 weeks after the incident because they suffered heavy injuries from the torture after the police sweeping at Kilo 9 and the maltreatments by a group of migrants at Yotefa Market. One of the victims named Abis Kabak needed a surgery on his broken jaw and was unable to chew solid food for four weeks. Urbanus Kabak was injured at the left eye during the torture by police officers. The wound was stiched at Bhanyangkara Police Hospital, without antiseptic cleaning and local anesthesia. Moreover, victim's wound was so poorly stitched, that the scars are still affecting Urbanus' field of view to date, so doctors at the public hospital Abepura suggested to open and re-stitch the scar again.

Police sweeping at Yotefa Market, Abepura

Meki Pahabol and Abis Kabak, two farmers living in Kilo 9 (Koya), arrived around 13.00 East Indonesia Time at the Yotefa Market, where they wanted to sell their crops. When they heard shots, Meki and Abis collected their crops and hurried to a public bus which was about to leave for Koya. After Meki Pahabol, Abis Kabak and other passengers had entered the bus, police forces began to fire several shots at the bus.

Abis was afraid and kept sitting inside the vehicle. As police officers approached the bus, they dragged him out of the vehicle and started to beat him. After that the police men pushed Abis into the crowd of migrant sellers working at Yotefa Market, who started to beat Abis with bare hands, hammers, wooden sticks and sharp weapons until he lost consciousness.

In the meanwhile Meki Pahabol tried to leave the public bus to seek shelter, but he was directly chased by the crowd. One porter from the market stabbed Meki' s arm as he tried to escape the crowd. The crowd of migrants kept on beating him as he was running towards another public bus, which was leaving in direction to Abepura. Some of the migrants hit Meki with clubs and a hammer until he lost consciousness.

Meki Pahabol and Abis Kabak together with 8 other injured men were brought to the Bhayangkara Police Hospital. Abis gained consciousness inside the Bhayangkara hospital, as one of the police officers hit his right temple with an iron drip stand for infusion bags. Abis' temple still had to be stitched at the hospital. Subsequently Abis and other arrested victims had to stand up facing the wall, so they could not see their torturers, and were kicked from behind to the back of the head with heavy boots.

After the medical treatment and maltreatments at the Bhanyangkara Police Hospital, the arrested men were brought to the local police station. As they were taken into custody, there were already 17 other men, who were arbitrarily arrested during the sweeping operation. Abis Kabak remained in custody until 8 July, then he was brought to Dian Harapan Hospital and finally released on 11 July 2014 at 12.00 Est Indonesia Time. During the medical treatment in the hospital, Abis Kabak was not allowed to see visitors. Meki Pahabol was finally released on 7 July 2014.

Police sweeping at Kilo 9, Koya

On 3 July 2014, around 05.00 East Indonesia Time, 11 police officers forcefully entered a house at Kilo 9 (Koya). All residents apart from Urbanus Pahabol and Asman Pahabol had recognized the approaching police men and were able to flee. After the police forces entered the house, they handcuffed and blindfolded Urbanus and Asman at gun point and forced them to enter a police truck outside the house. On the truck one police officer intimidated the Papuan men that they will be brought to Angrekang Village for execution.

After the truck stopped, Asman Pahabol and Urbanus Pahabol were ordered to leave the vehicle. Subsequently they were alternately beaten and kicked from one officer to the next, while being questioned about the whereabouts of the lost fire weapon their involvement in the killing of Officer Asriadi. Asman Pahabol was hit to his wrist and elbow until he was unable to hold urine due to pain. Urbanus was hit to the leg and tortured with a knife. The torturers also hit his left eye and his back with a wooden club, kicked him four times with heavy boots to the ribs, and knocked his head with a hammer, which had taken from Urbanus' house. Then Urbanus was forced to enter a water basin. After approximately 5 hours he was dragged out of the cold water and ordered to marsh.

Around 15.00 (WIT) Urbanus and Asman were brought to the local police station. On the way to the police station Asman and Urbanus were still whipped with a white electricity cable. The wounds of Urbanus Pahabol were so heavy that police officers finally brought him to Bhayangkara Police Hospital, where his injuries had to be stitched with 12 stitches. After that he was brought back to a cell at the Papuan regional police station. According to Urbanus Pahabol the police officers started to interrogate them on their third day of custody. During the interrogation Urbanus and Asman were asked whether they had participated in the dice gambling, and if they engage in the struggle for a free West Papua. As Asman said no, he was immediately forced to squat while another officer was beating him with bare hands and kicking him with heavy boots. The police officers also tortured with a knife to force a confession.

Asman and Urbanus were finally released on 7 July 2014. According to Urbanus Pahabol 3 Sentani men, 12 Papuans living in Abepura and 4 Papuans from Kilo 9 (Koya) were released with him. During the sweeping operation police forces confiscated IDR 1.400.000, 3 machetes, a laptop, 2 cartons of cigarettes, and a cell phone, which were not returned to the owners.

Note 1: Cenderawasi Pos, 3 July 2014

To see photographs of victims click here or open the PDF document below