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TAPOL Statement on the Involvement of the Security Forces in the IDPs Situation in Intan Jaya

TAPOL
08 February 2024
Intan Jaya IDPs

 

London, 8th February 2024

A firefight took place between the National Liberation Army of West Papua (Tentara Pembebasan Nasional Papua Barat - TPNPB) and members of the Indonesian military and police force (Tentara Nasional Indonesia dan Kepolisian RI - TNI-POLRI) in Intan Jaya Regency, Central Papua Province, between 19th to 23rd January 2024. According to reports we received, the Indonesian security forces shot two civilians. On 20th January, Apriana Sani (32) received gunshot wounds in her left hand, whilst Yusak Sondegau (40) was shot and died from his injuries; the body was subsequently found by local people on 21st January. The security forces claim that Sondegau was shot, because he was suspected of being a member of the TPNPB, a claim which the family rejects.

The shootings occurred in Bilogai village, Sugapa district, in direct response to an attack launched by TPNPB Area Command VIII Intan Jaya on a military post, in rejection of the building of a statue of Jesus in Bilogai, and in rejection of investment into the Wabu Block of West Papua.

Intan Jaya Regency is an area susceptible to conflict, which has worsened since 2019.[1] The trigger for this armed conflict cannot be separated from plans by the central government to exploit vast gold reserves in Wabu Block. The military are routinely involved in protection for this project.[2] The latest upturn in conflict has come in response to the increased presence of the Indonesian military in Intan Jaya. This has created fears among local society and led to waves of internal displacement.

The arrival of the Indonesian military apparatus ostensibly to provide security has had the opposite impact for the indigenous community. They feel they are living in an environment now full of restrictions and violence.[3] As of December 2022, the total number of internally displaced people in Intan Jaya reached 5,859.[4]

Similar to previous cases, the return of armed conflict has led to greater internal displacement. Despite claims by the central government that a humanitarian approach is being followed, any local conflict continues to be responded to with the despatch of more military.[5] 

After Sondegau had been shot and the conflict escalated, around 260 people, mainly women and children, fled from Bilgoai and Kumpalugapa villages to a variety of places, including the Titigi mission station,[6] Pesiga village, Puyagia village, and into neighbouring regencies, such as Paniai and Nabire.[7] In these places, the adult men are filled with fear that they could be accused of being members of the TPNPB and killed.[8]

The death of Yusak Sondegau compares to similar cases in the past. In February 2021, the Indonesian security forces tortured and killed 3 civilians, accusing them of being members of the TPNPB.[9] These killings happened on the basis of accusations and demonstrated the reluctance of the government to carry out investigations and are indicative of the neglect of the central government to deal with the causes of armed conflict in Intan Jaya.

On the basis of these facts, we urge:

  1. As a state party to various treaties of international human rights law, Indonesia has obligations to respect, protect and respect the rights of internally displaced citizens. The state must affirm that it is able to satisfy the basic needs and rights of the internally displaced in Intan Jaya, and to safely facilitate their return to a place selected by the people. If this is not possible then the central government must open access to the area to international humanitarian organisations.

  2. A recognition that the active presence of the Indonesian military is contributing to internal displacement. The central government and the People’s Representative Assembly (DPR) must reevaluate the state of the security forces, ensure they do not act in an excessive manner, and ensure accountability for any violations.

 

Contact: info@tapol.org 


 


[2] Asfinawati, Isnur, Ahmad Fauzi, dkk, ‘Ekonomi-Politik Penempatan Militer di Papua: Kasus Intan Jaya’, 2021. 

[3] Amnesty International, ‘Gold Rush’.

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