Human rights defenders have reported a series of organised horizontal violence by nationalist militant organisations against indigenous Papuans in the Papuans cities of Jayapura and Fak-Fak. The attacks occurred after thousands of indigenous Papuans protested against acts of racial discrimination against Papuan students in the island of Java. Protesters in almost all cities of Papua raised morning star flags, demanding political Independence from the Indonesian state.
Members of the ‘Kelompok Nusantara’ group (Nusantara Group) and the ‘Barisan Merah Putih’ (Red White Front) consisting of Non-Papuans armed with weapons attacked indigenous Papuans, mainly those originating from the central highlands, which are known to be a stronghold of the West Papuan independence movement. The majority of members of these two groups come from the Islands of Java and Sulawesi and are former members of the police and the military and their sons. Accordingly, the members of such groups have the support of security forces and often enjoy impunity.
The existence of such militant nationalist groups is not a new phenomenon in Indonesia. Such militias were responsible for many acts of violence in East Timor in 1999-2000 – before and after the referendum.
On 20 August 2019, members of the Red White Front attacked Papuan protesters in the town of Fak-Fak, who were demonstrating against the Racial discrimination of indigenous Papuans. During the incident, one person was reportedly killed, many injured. After violent clashes between Papuan and Non-Papuan protesters, the Red White Front members set the local branch office of the Papuan Customary Council (Dewan Adat Papua, DAP) in Fak-Fak on fire.
On 29 August 2019, multiple units of the Nusantara Group armed with machetes and slingshot arrows (Panah Wayar) attacked indigenous Papuans in various locations in Jayapura. A seventeen-year-old Papuan boy was allegedly killed, many other Papuans injured.
On 30 August 2019 at 2 pm, a group of migrants attacked Rev. Daud Auwe (see image on the right) and eight Papuan students as they were driving through the Argapura area in Jayapura. The attackers stopped their car, ordered the occupants out and set it on fire. Subsequently, the armed group collectively attacked the nine Papuans with knifes, iron bars, wooden beams, stones and machetes and slingshot arrows (see intro image).
On 1 September 2019, around 2.00 am, members of the Nusantara Group again attacked Papuans from the mountains living in a boarding school in Abepura. One person was killed and a dozen injured. The students had allegedly informed the police several hours prior to the attack regarding the potential danger. According to information received, the police had asured they would monitor the surrounding area. Despite these precautions, the police only arrived one hour after the attack had taken place.
On 2 September 2019, the police arrested around 300 members of the Nusantara Group during a counter-demonstration in Jayapura. The counter-protesters were shortly detained at an army headquarter and subsequently released.