Indonesian police raid church office, home in Nduga – arrest six, torture 12

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Tortured 19-year-old Gira Gwijangge
Tortured 19-year-old Gira Gwijangge . . . alleged to have been wounded on the head, right shoulder and left knee by the police during detention. Image: YKKMP/Kingmi Papua/Human Rights Monitor

Asia Pacific Report

Members of Indonesia’s Nduga District Police and the Damai Cartenz Police Task Force have raided a residential house and the local head office of the Papuan Tabernacle Church (Kingmi Papua) in the town of Kenyam, Nduga Regency, Papua Pegunungan Province, reports Human Rights Monitor.

Before raiding the Kingmi Papua office on September 17, the police officers arbitrarily arrested Melince Wandikbo, Indinwiridnak Arabo, and Gira Gwijangge in their home in Kenyam.

They were tortured and forced to reveal the names of people who had attended a recent burial of several members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB).

After one of the suspects mentioned the name of Reverend Urbanus Kogeya, the police officers searched the Kingmi Papua Office in Kenyam.

They arrested three other Papuans without showing a warrant. Police officers reportedly beat them during arrest and subsequent detention at the Nduga District police headquarters.

Everybody detained were later released due to lack of evidence.

Local Kingmi Papua church leaders and congregation members slept inside the Kingmi head office that night because they were preparing for a church event.

Around 11:30 pm, the police officers forcefully entered the office, breaking the entrance door.

Excessive force
According to the church leaders, the officers used excessive force against the suspects and the office facilities during the raid. Nine people suffered injuries as a result of police violence during the raid at the Kingmi Papua office — including an 85-year-old man and four women.

The local head office of the Papuan Tabernacle Church (Kingmi Papua) in the town of Kenyam
The local head office of the Papuan Tabernacle Church (Kingmi Papua) in the town of Kenyam . . . raided by police who have been accused of torture and excessive force. Image: Kingmi Papua/Human Rights Monitor

As Reverend Nataniel Tabuni asked the officers why they had come at night and broken the entrance door, a police officer approached him and punched him three times in the face.

According to Reverend Tabuni, one of the police officers ssaid: “You are the Church of Satan, the Church of Terrorists! You are supporting Egianus Kogeya [TPNPB Commander in Nduga] under the pretext of praying.”

The acts of torture were witnessed by the head of Nduga Parliament (DPRD), Ikabus Gwijangge.

He reached the Kingmi Papua Office around 11:45 pm after hearing people shouting for help.

As Gwijangge saw the police officers beating and kicking suspects, he protested the use of excessive force and called on the officers to follow procedure.

‘I’ll come after you’
A Damai Cartenz officer reportedly pointed his finger at Gwijangge and threatened him, saying: “Stupid parliamentarian. I’ll come after you! Wherever you go, I will find out where you are. I’ll chase you!”

Another police officer pushed Gwijangge outside the building to prevent him from witnessing the police operation. After that, the police officers searched all the office rooms and broke another office door.

The Nduga police chief (Kapolres), Commissioner Vinsensius Jimmy, has apologised to the local church leaders for the misconduct of his men.

The victims demanded that the perpetrators be processed according to the law.

Congregation members in Kenyam carried out a spontaneous peaceful protest against the police raid and violence against four Kingmi Papua pastors.

The Human Rights Monitor (HRM) is an independent, international non-profit project promoting human rights through documentation and evidence-based advocacy. HRM is based in the European Union and active since 2022.

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