Joint security forces kill three indigenous Papuans near Freeport Mine in Mimika

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The ICP has received credible information regarding the killing of Mrs Demiana Wanmang, 25, Mr Demu Kiwak, 28, and Mr Uterus Newegalen, 18. This happened at Mile 69, an illegal gold panning site near the Grasberg Mine which is operated by PT Freeport Indonesia in the Tembagapura district of the Mimika regency. On 16 August 2020, joint security force members of the Tindak Nemangkawi Task Force opened fire at the group of four gold panners. Three of them died instantly as a result of the fatal bullet wounds. The task force members likely mistook the group for members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB). A similar incident already occurred on 13 April 2020, as military members shot dead Eden Armando Bebari and Ronny Wandik at Mile 34, where the two men were fishing.

Victim Demu Kiwak editAccording to a report by the Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation Desk of the Papuan Tabernacle Church (JPIC Kingmi Papua), a military member brought Demiana Wanmang (see intro image), Demu Kiwak (see image on the right), Uterus Newegalen (see image below) and a fourth person to the illegal gold panning site at Mile 69 against a payment of 20 million rupiahs (about € 1,132). Military members have established an illegal business at the Freeport mine; they facilitate small scale gold panners to access restricted areas near Freeport’s Grasberg mine against an average fee of five million rupiahs (about € 283) per person. Around 1.30 pm the group brought by the military member reached Mile 69 and started to walk to the Kabur River, where they would pan for gold. 

Victim Uterus Newegalen editAround 5.00 pm, joint security force members opened fire at the group in an ambush. Demiana Wanmang, Demu Kiwak, Uterus Newegalen died on the spot as a result of the lethal bullet wounds which they sustained. The fourth group member sought shelter behind a rock and was able to escape unharmed. Around 6.20 pm, he called the relatives of the victims with his mobile phone and informed them about the lethal shooting.

On the same day, security force members also shot dead TPN PB commander, Hengki Wanmang, during an armed clash with TPN PB fighters near the Kopi River, approximately 36 kilometres away from Mile 69.

On 19 August 2020, the victims' relatives together with the local police, returned to the site of crime to evacuate the bodies. However, the relatives finally decided to cremate Demiana Wanmang, Demu Kiwak and Uterus Newegalen at the site of crime because the bodies were already beginning to decompose.

The relatives reaffirmed that none of the victims were affiliated with the TPN PB. They demand an independent and effective investigation into the extra-judicial killing of Demiana Wanmang, Demu Kiwak and Uterus Newegalen. All perpetrators shall be brought to justice in a fair and public trial.