REPORT:

West Papuan minors killed in Indonesian air raids

Militer Murib, military commander for the armed West Papuan independent guerillas, the OPM. Photo: TPNPB-OPM.

REPORT

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West Papuan minors killed in Indonesian air raids

Reports from the closed West Papua speak of deaths of civilian minors, of burning villages, and intensive Indonesian bomb raids. The Indonesian government—and Indonesian press—however, speak more about the necessity of peace talks in the Israel–Palestine conflict, than the developments in the far-eastern corner of the country’s widespread archipelago.

By Klas Lundström

WEST PAPUA Three women have been killed in Indonesian military operations in North Ilaga district, in Puncak Jaya in the central West Papuan highlands, per reports in Suara Papua.

Among the causalities, two were minors—12-year-old Neri Murib and 16-year-old Rana Tabuni—while the third victim—Siska Mom­—only lived to see her twentieth birthday after being killed in a bomb raid.

“They were killed in a helicopter raid in North Ilaga. The helicopters attacked and fired indiscriminately at Kingmi Kabuki Church. The church was destroyed, and the three young women shot to death,” per an anonymous source’s witness account made to Suara Papua.

“650 people have fled”

Moreover, the Indonesian military have killed a member of the armed West Papuan independence movement, Organisasi Papua Merdeka—since late April classified as a “terrorist organization” by the Indonesian government in Jakarta.

In addition, more than 650 people from various districts and villages in Puncak Jaya have fled the increased fighting and bombings—further increasing the already high number of West Papuan internally displaced people as a direct result of recent weeks’ escalating military operations in the region.

“These new bombing raids remind me of what I went through as a child in the Highlands of West Papua in the late 1970s. Our villages were bombed, our fathers killed, our aunties raped in front of our eyes,” Benny Wenda, West Papuan provisional president in exile in London, tells Global Magazine.

A village on fire in Puncak Jaya, in West Papua’s central highlands. The escalating conflict has killed three young women, two of them were minors. Photo: Anonymous source.

Indonesia remains silent

Per sources to Global Magazine, the cities of Timika and Nabire are now being filled with internally displaced people. Those are expected to be dependent on local organizations—mainly churches and social movements—for food and shelter as Indonesia continues to block access to West Papua for international aid organizations, independent journalists, and UN human rights investigators.

Global Magazine has received photos of burning villages and cartridge cases, documents that are in line with the reports that have come out of the isolated conflict centerstage in Puncak Jaya.

The Indonesian government led by Joko Widodo, however, shows no apparent interest in the conflict developments in the far-eastern corner of the Indonesian archipelago—although the President in both vocal and persistent in his stand for a ceasefire and peace talks regarding the Israel–Palestine conflict and the ongoing humanitarian crisis on the Gaza Strip.

“My heart cries”

The audible demands for a peaceful solution to the conflict in the Middle East is echoed by Indonesian press, who has yet to report on the devastating development in Puncak Jaya, in what per official Indonesian politics is called domestic soil.

Neither The Jakarta Post nor Jakarta Globe—two of Indonesia’s leading and most prominent newspapers—have reported on the escalating conflict in Puncak Jaya, let alone about the deaths of the three civilian women, seeking refuge in the Kingmi Kabuki Church.

“The Indonesian air forces fired rocket bombs about 40 times on air attacks at Local residents in Ilaga, Puncak Papua Regency, the highlands of West Papua,” per a source in Puncak Jaya.

To Benny Wenda, the escalation of violence in Puncak Jaya and the rising civilian death toll aren’t merely an echo of a bloody past—it’s also an urgent political reminder of the West Papuan people’s vulnerability behind barred Indonesian doors to the outside world:

“Just like what’s happening to the people in Puncak Jaya right now, we had to flee to the bush for years. It makes my heart cry to see it happening all over again,” Mr. Wenda says.

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Further reading:

Total warfare “imminent” in West Papua – PNG dragged into the conflict

West Papuan leader arrested – may be charged with “treason”

Further reading:

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