More reports of a mass killing in Indonesia's West Papua
More reports of a mass killing in Indonesia's West Papua province.
Reports are continuing to emerge from West Papua of a mass killing, allegedly by Indonesian military.
Human rights groups say the victims are among over 40 people who have been missing for up to a month from the Tingginambut district in Puncak Jaya, in the remote highlands of Indonesia's Papua province.
Johnny Blades reports:
Since last week at least 18 headless, mutilated or amputated bodies have been found in roadside ditches and drains in and around Tingginambut. The West Papuan human rights investigator, Yasons Sambon, says that local people are attributing the killings to Indonesia's Kopassus military troops.
YASONS SAMBON: Details of six of the West Papuan victims of the Indonesian military operation indicate that these men, who include four village chiefs, had been returning to the area from the inauguration of the new Papua governor Lucas Enembe in Jayapura when they were stopped by Kopassus at a roadbock, then tortured and killed.
Since December, Puncak Jaya has been the focus of a sweep operation by the military in its pursuit of pro-independence activists and separatist guerillas. Video accounts of villages being terrorised by troops have filtered through to the internet.
The operation intensified in February, following the shooting deaths of eight Indonesian soldiers in the area for which the rebel West Papua National Liberation Army claimed responsibility.With the rebels hiding in the jungle, security forces have turned their focus to hunting members of the pro-independence West Papua National Committee, or KNPB, although only one of the latest 18 victims is known to be a KNPB member. However dozens of KNPB members have been arrested in recent months, including its leader, Victor Yeimo, for his part in a Jayapura demonstration against Indonesian rule. The Chairman of Baptist Churches in Papua, Socratez Sofyan Yoman, says the KNPB has been targetted because its peaceful approach to pushing for dialogue with Jakarta is popular among West Papuans. He says Yeimo and others in Jayapura's notorious Abepura prison have rejected the Indonesian President's new offer to free all West Papuan political prisoners.
SOCRATEZ SOFYAN YOMAN: But they reject it. They demand full negotiation with the Indonesian government and Papuan representatives mediated by a third party. That is their demand.
Meanwhile, a hearing of a US Congressional Human Rights Commission has received testimony from various human rights groups about the deteriorating situation in West Papua. John Miller of the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network says the US State Department is also well aware of ongoing violations by security forces in West Papua. He says the US government's concern about the situation in West Papua needs to be translated into action.
JOHN MILLER: But it really has to go back to leverage that we think it used quite successfully in the '90s of cutting off elements of the Indonesian military police from US weapons and training. And that's something that security forces there feel, something they very much want, and could - there's no guarantees of course - hopefully influence their behaviour for the better.
Yasons Sambon says communities in Tingginambut fear that those still missing have been murdered and they say that killings will continue unless Jakarta reins in its military.
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