Joint security forces raid the KNPB office in Timika – two activists shot down

Joint security forces have raided the Timika branch office of the ’West Papua National Committee’ (KNPB), a political organisation that advocates the right to self-determination of the Papuan people. During the security force operation, security forces arrested nine KNPB activists - two activists sustained bullet injuries and had to be hospitalized. Police officers allegedly seized one revolver, 104 caliber 5,56 cartridges, 11 revolver cartridges, one AK47 cartridge and 7 Molotov cocktails. KNPB representatives have denied that KNPB activists had stored firearms or explosives at the office, claiming that the police used fabricated evidence to criminalize the organisation and break their peaceful resistance.

On 15 September 2018 at 6.00 am, joint security forces started to secure the area around the KNPB office at Freeport Lama Road, Bendungan, Timika. Around 7.00 am, a dozen mini buses (Toyota Avanza), one Freeport RWB vehicle, ten police vehicles of the crowd control unit (Dalmas), five police patrol pick-ups and approximately 20 additional military vehicles gathered in front of the office, with an approximated strength of several hundred men. At 7.20 am, security forces forcefully entered the KNPB office through the front door.

Human rights activists published a video on Youtube which documents parts of the security force operation. The video shows several dozens of army and police officers surrounding the entrance door to the KNPB office while some of the officers appear to have entered the building. Shortly after, security force officers release at least 16 shots inside the office. While the shooting continues, a dozen security force officers suddenly retreat to the outside of the building. The video gives the impression of a wild shootout rather than a well coordinated and professional law enforcement operation.

Arrest KNPB Timika SuaraPapuaApart from the aforementioned firearms, the security forces seized 20 million rupiahs (approximately 1.300 $US), a morning star flag, documents, two mobile phones, one laptops, two computers, three machetes, one bow as well as 15 arrows and broke major office facilities. Two KNPB activists sustained bullet injuries during the operation and had to receive medical treatment at the SP 1 General Hospital in Timika. Jack Yakonias Womsiwor (39 years) sustained three bullet injuries on the left anckle, calf and thigh while Erikson Mandobar (20 years) was twice shot in the right calf. Seven other KNPB supporters, named Pais Nasia (24 years), Titus Yelemaken (46 years), Vincent Gobay (20 years), Urbanus Kossay (18 years), Efesus Hisage (42 years), Arius Elopere (30 years) and  Nus Asso (46 years) were arrested (see image to this paragraph) and temporarily detained at the Mimika district police station. The seven activists were released on the same day at 12.00 am. Jack Yakonias Womsiwor and Erikson Mandobar remained in custody – it is currently unclear if the police will press charges against them.

According to the spokesman of the Papua Regional Police (Polda Papua), Officer Kamal, the raid was related to police investigations against Ruben Wakla (20 years), who was arrested at the Timika Airport and allegedly carried 153 ammunition cartridges. KNPB chairman Victor Yeimo and and KNPB general secretary Ones Suhuniap denied in a public interview that KNPB activists had stored firearms, ammunition and explosives at the secretary office. They stressed that KNPB is a non-violent political organisation that fights for the Papuan peoples’ right to self-determination through peaceful and dignified means. KNPB claims that the security forces used the weapons and explosives as fabricated evidence to criminalize the organisation and break their peaceful resistance.