Soldiers torture Papuan man in Tambrauw Regency - Residents demand the withdrawal of military

Two members of the Pamrahwan Yonif RK 762 military post have beaten a Papuan man in the village of Wayo, Tambrauw Regency, on 9 April 2021. According to the media outlet Suara Papua, Moses Yewen (45 years) wanted to buy food in a small restaurant in Wayo. A dispute arose after the two soldiers asked Moses Yewen (see photo, source: Suara Papua) what he wanted to do inside the restaurant. After a short argument, the two military members dragged Moses Yewen inside the nearby military post and repeatedly punched him to the body. Moses Yewen sustained bruises on his torso, as well as injuries on the feet and hands. On the following day, residents gathered in front of the Pamrahwan Yonif RK 763 military post and demanded that the military post be closed.

On 10 April 2021, Moses Yawan and a lawyer reported the incident to the local military police (POM). Yawan recommended to POM that both soldiers be prosecuted and transferred from the military post to another military facility outside the Tambrauw Regency. A lawyer of the Association of Human Rights Lawyers for Papua (PAHAM Papua), Yohanis Mambrasar, demanded on behalf of the victim that the military should withdraw its personnel from the Tambrauw Regency and cancel the plan to establish multiple military facilities in the Tambrauw Regency. PAHAM Papua already documented two cases of military violence against residents between January and March 2021 and seven such cases in 2020.

Acts of violence against indigenous Papuans have significantly increased since the military has established a Military District Command (KODIM) in the Kwoor District and several Military Sub-District Commands (KORAMIL) in September 2019 without consulting the indigenous land rights holders. In late January 2020, the military moved into a former Government office building in Wembru Sausapor which the regent of Tambrauw had handed over to the military. In February 2020, military members started to build a KORAMIL in the Kwoor District without any prior consultation or agreement with the indigenous land rights holders. Residents have demanded the local government to push economic development, establish more healthcare facilities and improve the education system in Tambrauw instead of building military facilities.

Indigenous leaders had provided a piece of land to the local government for building an office for the local Transportation Department. However, Tambrauw’s regent handed over the land to the military without prior consultation with the indigenous landowners.  The construction of the military base, which was inaugurated on 14 December 2020, has been opposed by the local communities. The customary land rights holders claim that the local Government failed to reach a mutual agreement regarding the construction of the military facilities.