Update Nduga Regency: Security force operation still ongoing – death toll estimated at 189

The death toll among civilians from the Nduga Regency keeps on rising. Human rights defenders counted a total number of 189 civilian fatalities between early December 2018 and 10 October 2019. According to a report published in Jakarta in mid-July 2019, the death toll was at 177 persons, while thousands of indigenous peoples from Nduga have been internally displaced.

On 9 October 2019, human rights defenders of the Foundation for Justice and Integrity of the Papuan People (YKKMP) excavated the bodies of three women and two male minors in the forest near Iniye Village, in the district of Mbua, Nduga Regency (see intro image). The dead were identified as Yuliana Dronggi (35 years), Jelince Bugi (25 years), Macen Kusumbrue (26 years), Tolop Bugi (13 years) and Hardius Bugi (15 years), all ethnic Papuans from the Regency of Nduga. The Commander of the Military District Command 1702 Jayawijaya and Commander of the Military Region Command 172 Papua have agreed to accompany the human rights defenders during the investigation. According to information received, the team found strong evidence of the involvement of Indonesian military (TNI) members, such as TNI food cans and two bullet casings. The head of XVII Cenderawasih Military Command Information Department, Colonel Eko Daryanto, expressed support for a law enforcement process against the perpetrators if the claims could be confirmed through an autopsy and a police investigation.

As the number of fatalities among internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Nduga is still rising, multiple civil society representatives have criticised the Government for discriminatory practices in dealing with the IDPs. A great number of Non-Papuan migrants are also internally displaced after outbreaks of horizontal violence in the Papuan highland town of Wamena. The Government has flown a great number of these IDPs to Jayapura, providing food and emergency shelters. In contrast, thousands of indigenous IDPs from Nduga have not received Government support and have to rely on voluntary help from civil society actors. Papuan activists alleged that social workers of the Ministry for Social Affairs have visited the IDPs from Nduga in Wamena, but only documented the situation instead of providing humanitarian support.