TNI accused of attacking, arresting Papuans after traffic row – girl dead

Battalion 751 on parade
TNI Battalion 751 in Papua ... embroiled in allegations by human rights defenders. Image: TNI/Jakarta Post

By Alya Nurbaiti in Jakarta and Benny Mawel in Jayapura

Indonesian Military (TNI) soldiers reportedly attacked and arrested civilians at a dormitory and nearby houses in Jayapura after a traffic accident and a quarrel between two dorm inhabitants and a soldier.

Human Rights Lawyers Association for Papua (PAHAM Papua) director Gustav Kawer said the TNI personnel’s action was a crime and a violation of human rights because it was committed outside TNI jurisdiction to arrest people and beat people.

Cenderawasih Military Command spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Reza Nur Patria confirmed both the traffic accident and the raid but did not confirm the attack.

“During the quarrel, a member of [Infantry Battalion 751] was assaulted. The soldiers then searched the people who were responsible for the assault and detained five people for questioning,” he said.

Colonel Patria added that, following the internal probe at Army Infantry Battalion (Yonif) 751 headquarters, the five people were sent to Jayapura Police for further investigation.

“The soldier who was a victim of beatings has also reported to the police,” he said.

“If any [TNI] member is proven to have violated the law, he will be sanctioned in accordance with the law,” said the colonel.

On Wednesday night, a soldier on a motorbike allegedly hit another motorbike, on which Meky Suhuniap and Olun Yoal, both Soloitma dorm inhabitants, were riding in Sentani, near the dorm.

The three got into an argument before other residents in the location hit the soldier and seized his motorcycle as a guarantee so that the soldier would pay for the damage.

According to PAHAM Papua, at 11 pm more than 50 members of Yonif 751 in Sentani raided the Soloitma dorm, bringing weapons such as bayonets and swords. The soldiers allegedly hit residents, destroyed doors and took residents’ motorcycles.

Teenaged girl kicked, died
One of the residents, 18-year-old Demisian Kobak, was reportedly kicked, even though she had said she was not involved in the quarrel and had told the soldiers she was sick. She was then taken to the hospital for treatment but died the next morning.

“A girl [Demisian] was lying sick in her bed when the soldiers kicked her. She died on Thursday,” PAHAM Papua director Kawer told The Jakarta Post.

Moreover, the Yonif 751 Sentani members also allegedly attacked eight other people during the raid – Edi Kobak, Nation Suhuniap, Nus Suhuniap, Simson Suhuniap, Mince Kobak, Laura Yoal, Pinet Bahabol and 2-year-old Yotam Kobak.

The soldiers then took six of them to the headquarters for investigation, PAHAM Papua stated.

“Edi Kobak was kicked, hit in the face and struck on the head with a gun’s muzzle. Penet Bahabol received the same treatment while his hands were tied. As a result, both Edi and Penet sustained bruises to their bodies and faces and were bleeding at the head,” PAHAM Papua lawyer Yohanes Mambrasar said.

After a few hours, the soldiers transferred the six Papuans to the Jayapura Police. At 2 am Thursday, police sent them home.

Kawer of PAHAM said the soldiers had allegedly violated Article 351 of the Criminal Code on maltreatment or physical abuse and Article 38 of TNI Law No. 34 2004 on the soldier?s code of conduct.

PAHAM Papua called on the Jayapura Police to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators and demanded that the TNI hold civil court cases and dismiss the TNI members that committed the alleged crimes.

Alya Nurbaiti and Benny Mawel are reporters for The Jakarta Post.

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