Further case of enforced disappearance causes ethnic tensions in Nduga

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Human rights defenders have revealed a further case of enforced disappearance in the Nduga Regency, where the armed conflict between the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB) and Indonesian security forces has been ongoing since December 2018. According to information received, Yermias Nagen was arrested by military members on 29 March 2021 near his garden. His wife witnessed a group of soldiers bringing him into the forest. A team of police investigators found traces of human blood but no clues pointing at Yermias Nagen. Shortly after the incident, people in the town of Kenyam went on the streets, demanding the police to find the perpetrators. Several protesters reportedly broke a store owned by migrants in response to the incident. The relatives confirmed that Yermias Nagen was not affiliated with the TPN PB.

On 29 March 2021, around 9.00 am, Yermias Nagen, his wife, and children went to their garden in Tonibid, a place near the Kenyam River in the Kenyam District. As the family discovered the footprints of heavy boots near the garden, they decided that Yermias Nagen should collect firewood while his wife was harvesting vegetables. When the wife returned, Yermias Nagen was gone. The wife followed the traces of boots and found her husband surrounded by military members in the forest. Yermias’ wife started to cry and entreated the soldiers to release her husband. However, the military members took Yermias Nagen with them deeper into the forest.

IMG-20210331-WA0026Shortly after, Yermias’ wife informed local community members about the incident. Feeling afraid and outnumbered by the military members, the community members called upon their tribesmen to gather in the town of Kenyam (see top photo, source: YKKMP) and demand the immediate release of Yermias Nagen.

On 30 March 2021, relatives officially reported the case to the local police in Kenyam. A team consisting of relatives and community members later found traces of blood near the location where the wife saw Yermias Nagen for the last time. Around 3.00 pm, people again gathered in the streets of Kenyam and called upon the police to immediately return Yermias Nagen’s body, dead or alive.

Local informants stated that the protests were accompanied by ethnic violence. Multiple persons entered a shop owned by a migrant, vandalised the store (see right photo, source: YKKMP), and broke a car's windshield. Observers have raised concerns regarding a possible outbreak of ethnic violence if the police fail to prosecute the perpetrators.