Indonesian security crackdown in West Papua – ‘traumatising raids, torture’

Change of tactics . . . while the Indonesian military have increased their crackdown in West Papua
Change of tactics? . . . while the Indonesian military have increased their crackdown in West Papua some soldiers have also been engaged in a softer "socialisation" campaign in villages. Image: Human Rights Monitor

Asia Pacific Report

Indonesian security forces have intensified operations in various conflict areas in West Papua, reports Human Rights Monitor.

According to information received by the international watchdog, security force members have raided villages and set residential houses on fire.

The raids reportedly occurred in conflict hotspots in West Papua, predominantly in the Puncak, Nduga, and Intan Jaya regencies, but also in less conflict-affected places such as the districts Elilim and Apahapsili in the Yalimo regency on 1 and 2 April 2023 – two weeks  before last weekend’s clash between Indonesian soldiers and pro-independence militia.

Indigenous Papuans, including women and children, were arrested and tortured.

Observers predicted an aggravation of the conflict weeks ago after the Indonesian military deployed more than 2000 additional personnel to West Papua throughout March 2023.

‘Ground combat ready’
Meanwhile, the Indonesian chief-of-armed forces, General Laksamana Yudo Margono, announced that the mode of operations against the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) was switched from a “soft approach” to “ground combat ready” operations after a disputed number of soldiers were killed in a firefight with TPNPB members in Nduga on 15 April 2023.

Meanwhile, the increased security force presence comes with government-driven “socialisation” programmes, where military and police members directly interact with local communities.

They participate in collective work, visit schools, and take over or accompany essential healthcare services.

For decades, many indigenous Papuans have been traumatised due to the history of violent military operations in West Papua, says Human Rights Monitor.

They fear becoming victims of arbitrary arrest, torture, killings, or enforced disappearance.

The military presence in schools, health facilities, and churches limits indigenous Papuans from accessing essential public services.

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