Update on military raid in Nduga Regency - Local Govt launches rescue mission

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Two new videos have been published on the internet platform Youtube. The videos provide new insight on the latest situation in the Nduga Regency, where armed clashes between the Indonesian military and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-PB) have caused a high number of casualties among civilians. Until know, security forces are strictly limiting the access to the area – first information about the casualties and the current situation in Nduga remains unconfirmed and uncertain. Human rights defenders and journalists are still not allowed to cover events on site.

A new BBC Indonesia video provides new insights on the events in the regency of Nduga. It shows video footage of interviews with several alleged victims of human rights violations during the military raids. A man claimed that four helicopters from the Indonesian Air Force (AURI) were attacking his village - one of them reportedly dropped a bomb. The Coordinating Mister for Political Law and Security Affairs, General Wiranto, denied the use of bombs in a public interview, stating that bombs were too expensive and that the issue had been fabricated by the TPN-PB to make black propaganda against the Indonesian Government. He further suggested to the journalists “just go and look for your self there – is there any forest that was burnt down [by the bombs]?”.

Another interview shows a boy, claiming that his father was shot dead by members of the military. He said that the military members kept firing at him as he an his elder brother fled into the woods – one bullet allegedly pierced the boys shirt. The head of the Military Area Command Information Department, Muhamad Aidi, stated in an interview that his men would not open fire at civilians if they are unarmed. He explained further that his men are committed to capture the TPN-PB members alive.

A second video shows footage which had been taken during a recent rescue mission (see intro image), launched on the 13 December 2018 with the purpose to find four missing construction. The local government had formed a team under the lead of the vice regent of Nduga and the head of the local parliament to evacuate the workers’ bodies and find indigenous villagers which had fled from the military raid into the jungle. The team had asked security force members not to accompany them to avoid further exchange of fire and additional traumatization of the indigenous population.

After four days of searching, the team did not succeed to find the workers' bodies as harsh weather conditions obstructed the rescue mission. However, the team found the bodies of further four indigneous civilians who had died as the Indonesian military carried out attacks against the TPN-PB. One villager named Mentus Nimiangge was found alive but died shortly after the rescue due to a severe bullet injury on the neck, which he sustained during the alleged military attack – he was later cremated in the Mbumuyalma Disrict. The following names are listed in the video sub-titles: Menius Lokbere and Nison Umangge, both killed in the Mbua District. Yarion Pokneangge died in the Dal District as military opened fire from a helicopter, while his wife was able to escape into the woods. The body of Mianus Lokbere was found in bad condition and had to be cremated immediately.

Meanwhile, the Governor of Papua Province, Lukas Enembe, and seven fractions of the provincial parliament decided during a meeting on 19.12.2018 to meet with president Joko Widodo and ask him to withdraw all security forces from the Nduga Regency. The decision received the support of religious leaders, the Papuan representative office of the national human rights commission, civil society figures and NGOs. The withdrawal of security forces shall allow the indigenous population to return to their villages and celebrate Christmas in peace and dignity.