Jakarta deploys new troops to West Papua whilst turning a blind eye on IDPs – civil society groups try to compensate Government neglect

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Thousands of indigenous people in the Intan Jaya Regency, Papua Province, have been internally displaced since ongoing military operations against the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB) have been launched in December 2019. People have fled their homes and sought shelter in Intan Jaya’s largest town Bilogai or other regencies like Mimika, Puncak, Paniai and Nabire.

The IDPs fled their homes in fear of being killed or tortured by security force members. Military members have reportedly killed five indigenous Papuans since January 2021, alone. Despite isolated humanitarian aid initiatives by local Governments, the Central Government continues to turn a blind eye on the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in West Papua. Civil society groups in West Papua have taken action to substitute the absence of responsible Government institutions.

arrival Troops Jayapura 9MarchJakarta holds on to its approach resolving the political conflict through deployment of additional security forces to West Papua, unwilling to enter into negotiations with Papuan independence groups. According to media sources, an Indonesian battleship brought 1,350 new military personnel to Jayapura on 9 March (see right photo). The non-organic troops will be deployed to armed conflict hotspots, such as the regencies Intan Jaya, Nduga, Puncak and Mimika.

Human rights observers say that the non-organic troops do not understand Papuan indigenous culture and are a main driver of violence against civilians in West Papua. The Papuan Parliament's vice-chairperson (DPRP), Yunus Wonda, expressed concern over the growing number of non-organic troops in the Papua Province. He explained in an interview with media outlet Jubi that the military did neither inform the DPRP nor the Governor about the total number of non-organic troops in the province.

According to local solidarity groups, 353 internally displaced families from Intan Jaya live in 25 different locations in Nabire. The Papuan Department for Social Affairs has confirmed that the total number of IDPs from Intan Jaya currently living in Nabire has reached more than 3,000 persons. Multiple civil society groups have collected food, clothes and other essential supplies for the IDPs. The catholic church has distributed 2.5 tons of rice to the IDPs. The Democratic Party provided another humanitarian aid in Nabire and the Papuan Entrepreneurs Customary Chamber (KAPP) (see top photo, source: Jubi). The regent of Dogiyai, Yakobus Dumupa, reportedly donated 2 tons of rice to KAPP for the IDPs in Nabire. Students and residents in Manokwari also launched private initiatives to collect donations and clothes. The goods and donations of about € 4,000 were distributed among the IDPs in Nabire.