The victims’ relatives in multiple cases of alleged disappearances in West Papua have to keep waiting for justice. The police and the military have conducted investigations into some of the cases. However, the outcome of the law enforcement process against the perpetrators was never published or are still pending.
Human rights organisations in Indonesia have criticised the police- and military-internal law enforcement mechanisms for a long time. They argue that both mechanisms are not effective, lack transparency and independence, pathing the way for impunity in Indonesia.
As of November 2021, human rights observers demanded authorities publish the outcome of investigations into multiple cases of enforced disappearances in 2020 and 2021. Most cases occurred in relation to security operations against the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB) in the regencies Nduga, Pegunungan Bintang and Intan Jaya.
The latest case of enforced disappearances reportedly occurred on 25 October 2021 during a military raid in the Fuog Village, Maybrat Regency. According to the Civil Society Coalition Caring for Displaced Persons in Maybrat (KMSPPM), relatives witnessed how military members shot down and arrested Mr Manfret Tamunete during the raid. As the relatives wanted to visit Manfret Tamunete, neither the police nor the military failed to provide information about his whereabouts. Mr Tamunete has not returned to his family as of 26 November.
Enforced disappearances in Intan Jaya
Four military members reportedly arrested Mr Semuel Kobogau, 31, inside a small store in Sugapa town on 5 October 2021. Witnesses saw the military members bringing Semuel Kobogau, to the Raider 501 military post. The following day, his relatives tried in vain to find Mr Kobogau and later filed an official police report (see photo, source: independent HRDs). The police investigation into the allegations of enforced disappearance did not bring any results, while local military representatives refused to comment on the allegations.
The chief of the Kodam XVII Cenderawasih military command, Colonel Reza Nur Patria, recently claimed that the military police are currently investigating the allegations into the enforced disappearance of Mr Kobogau. He added that all perpetrators will be processed in accordance with the law if the investigation proves the involvement of military personnel in a crime. The results of the investigation have not been published or communicated to the relatives, yet.
In late April 2020, two other indigenous Papuans from Intan Jaya named Apianus Zanambani and Luter Zanambani were reported missing. Witnesses saw military members arresting them during a military raid in the town of Sugapa, Intan Jaya. A subsequent military police investigation concluded that multiple army members arrested and reportedly tortured Luther Zanambani and Apinus Zanambani. Both died as a result of the injuries sustained during the torture. The perpetrators burned the bodies at the Yonif PR 433/JS Kostrad military base and disposed the ashes into a nearby river.
Enforced disappearances in Pegunungan Bintang
The enforced disappearance of 20-year-old Jekson Sitokmabin and 17-year-old Asven Kasipmabin occurred in May 2021. They were reported missing after driving their motorcycle to the Seramkatop Village, Serambakon District. However, the relatives reported the disappearance of Mr Sitokmabin and Mr Kasipmabin to the local police after they could not find any life signs for more than two weeks. However, the Pegunugan Bintang District Police has not announced the outcome of the investigation as of 19 November.
Enforced disappearances in Nduga
Human rights defenders documented the enforced disappearance of Mr Yermias Nagen (35 years) in late March 2021. Military members reportedly arrested him on 29 March 2021 as he was working in his garden near Andelekyo Creek. As Mr Nagen’s wife came to the garden, she saw two soldiers forcing Mr Nagen to cross the creek. The military members gave her a hand sign that she should leave.
In the late afternoon, Mr Nagen’s wife, several relatives and a local pastor officially reported the incident to the local police and the military in the town of Kenyam. On 7 April 2021, a joint team consisting of police investigators and relatives went to the location where Mr Nagen’s wife had seen her husband for the last time. The investigators found traces of blood and the testimonies of three witnesses but no clues pointing at Mr Yermias Nagen’s whereabouts. A subsequent analysis of the blood concluded that it was human blood. There is no information available about the current stage of the investigation.
Cases of enforced disappearances have significantly increased with the beginning of widespread military operations in the regency of Nduga in December 2018. Human rights defenders have documented six such cases between December 2018 and December 2020, all of which occurred exclusively in relation to military operations against the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB) in the regencies Intan Jaya and Nduga. Witness testimonies and evidence at the sights of crime support the observation that enforced disappearances are mainly committed by members of the military. Between 2019 and 2020, at least 16 persons were reported missing. None of the cases was investigated by the police and processed in civilian courts or through national human rights mechanisms.