Security force members torture indigenous villager and kill pastor in Puncak Regency

The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Desk of the Papuan Tabernacle Church (JPIC Kingmi Papua) has documented new cases of torture and extra-judicial killings in the Puncak Regency, where a security force operation against the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB) has been ongoing since late April 2021. According to information received, joint security force members arrested and subsequently tortured Jesius Wenda, 24, in the Maki Village on 27 April 2021. In addition, on 16 May 2021, security force members reportedly shot dead Rev Laban Hagabal, 59, during an attack in the Demaju village. Both incidents occurred in the Ilaga Utara District of Puncak Regency.

Joint security force launched an attack on Maki Village on 27 April 2021, around 8.00 am. Jesius Wenda, a villager who had recently graduated from a university in Jayapura, was arrested during the operation. The security force members reportedly covered his head with a black cloth, tied his hand and legs and asked for his identity. In addition, they allegedly kicked and punched Jesius, while another officer stroke him with a rifle butt to the head. Jesius sustained bruises on the temple, a bleeding nose and mouth, and bruises under both eyes as a result of the torture. The security force members released Jesius Wenda after finding the identity card and a student card in his net bag. 

On 15 May 2021, joint security forces attacked the villages Toegi, Mayuberi, Kabuki, Amungi, Olenki, Maki and Ayali with ground troops and two helicopters. A Kingmi Papua church in Kabuki was reportedly damaged during the air raid. Shortly after the attack, all villagers from Toegi, including Kingmi Pastor Rev Laban Hagabal (see photo, source: JPIC Kingmi Papua), decided to flee to the Demaju Village from where they wanted to continue walking to the village of Paluga the following day. A group of TPN PB fighters also arrived in Demaju shortly after he villagers.

On 16 May 2021, around 4.00 am, security force members launched another attack on the Demaju Village and opened fire at several houses. In a panic, a TPN PB member named Mas Tabuni and Rev Laban Hagabal left the hut through the front door. Both men were reportedly shot dead outside the house. The other residents remained unharmed and were able to escape through the back door.

Due 1 June 2021, the bodies of Rev Hagabal and Mas Tabuni remain in Demaju, where security force members closely guard them. Relatives, church representatives, and a tribal leader have in vain demanded the security forces return both bodies for the burial.