Military operation in Nduga Regency - Indonesian human rights organisations concerned about attacks against civilians

Joint security forces have conducted a large scale military operation against an armed group of the Papuan Liberation Army (TPN) in the Papuan highland regency Nduga. The security forces allegedly fired automatic firearms and grenades from two helicopters. The attack occurred on 11 July 2018 in the afternoon and focused on the village Alguru, which the Indonesian military suspects as a stronghold of the local TPN. Media sources reported that the attack did not cause civilian victims. However, local human rights defenders shared information according to which villagers have fled into the surrounding forests and neighboring regencies. On 19 July, a group of 33 refugees from Nduga regency arrived in the city of Merauke. At least ten further refugees have reportedly fled to Timika city.

The operation followed an armed attack against a civil plane of the aviation company Trigana on 25 June 2018. The Twin Otter airplane was bringing security force personnel to Kenyam town, where they were deployed to secure the upcoming local elections. During the subsequent firefight between TPN and Indonesian security forces three civilians were killed. Local sources reported that TPN fighters and Indonesian security forces exchanged fire on 3, 4 and 11 July 2018 near the Kenyam river leaving at least two mobile brigade officers wounded. Four police mobile brigade officers were allegedly killed during the armed clashes. The Indonesian military used two helicopters to fire with large caliber fire arms and grenades at the TPN resistance fighters. The ICP received a short video which provides a short impression regarding the consequences of the attacks (see image on top).

Multiple Indonesian human rights and faith-based organisations published a press release in which they demand Presidet Joko Widodo to allow independent institutions to operate in the Nduga Regency, among them the  National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and the National Police Commission (Kompolnas). The institutions shall ensure that Indonesian security forces will not apply repressive action that could victimize innocent civilians. The organisations also demanded that the government shall open access to the Indonesian Red Cross Society (PMI) to provide humanitarian assistance, as well as food aid, medical support and trauma healing to residents, and especially to women and children.

Download Press Release in English as PDF file here