Regent calls on Jokowi to withdraw TNI and police from Nduga

CNN Indonesia – August 5, 2019
Solidarity action for Nduga in front of State Palace in Jakarta (CNN)
Solidarity action for Nduga in front of State Palace in Jakarta (CNN)

Jakarta – Nduga Regent Yairus Gwijangge has asked for help from House of Representatives (DPR) Speaker Bambang Soesatyo to covey to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo that he wants the immediate withdrawal of all TNI (Indonesian military) and Polri (Indonesian police) personnel that have been conducting military operations in Papua since early December 2018.

The military operations are aimed at pursuing the alleged killers of 15 Trans Papua highway workers in December last year. The killers are suspected to be members of the Free Papua Organisation (OPM) or an Armed Criminal Group (KKB).

“With great expectations we have made a request to the President through the DPR speaker for the withdrawal of non-organic and organic TNI and Polri personnel which are conducting joint operations there”, said Gwijangge during a meeting with Soesatyo at the parliamentary complex in Senayan, Jakarta, on Monday August 5.

Gwijangge explained that the presence of the TNI and Polri personnel in Nduga has disrupted people’s lives. Moreover, according to Gwijangge, people have been forced to flee to family and relative’s houses in other regencies resulting in 11 districts in Nduga being left virtually empty.

Also speaking in Senayan, Nduga regency secretary Namia Wijangge reveled that people in Nduga have suffered trauma due to the presence of the military in their area since the Mapenduma operation in 1996.

Wijangge said that the prolonged conflict between the TNI, police and the group calling itself the Free Papua Organisation-West Papuan National Liberation Army (TPNPB-OPM) has had a negative impact on communities, particularly in terms of access their right to education and healthcare.

“This trauma has been prolonged since the 1996 affair which occurred in Mapenduma. They have carried this trauma with them to this day. It’s like that, this problem, it’s very difficult to resolve in a short time”, he said.

In addition to this, said Wijangge, teaching activities in 24 schools and religious activities in 98 church building spread across 11 districts in Nduga have now stopped. Community healthcare centres (Puskesmas) and integrated healthcare service posts (Posyandu) are also unable to function as they should.

“Education and healthcare services are not running. Then churches there, there are 98 churches that are empty. All of the congregations have fled, communities have fled”, said Wijangge.

Meanwhile on July 30 the Social Affairs Ministry (Kemenkes) declared that at least 53 people displaced by the conflict in Nduga have died since December. The ministry said that the refugees died for various reasons such as old age and illness.

“The data from Pemkab (the regency government) and the Kemenkes has been validated, 53 people have died including 23 children due to illness, old age and other factors. But reports that more than 130 people have died in refugee shelters is untrue”, said Social Affairs Ministry Director General for Social Security Harry Hikmat as quoted by the Antara state news agency on Tuesday July 30.

Quoting from the day before, Nduga regency official Otomis Gwijangge said that 45,000 people have sought refuge as a result of the conflict in Nduga. This is more than half of Nduga’s total population.

He said that the displaced people originate from eight districts or sub-districts: Mapenduma, Kagayam, Mugi, Mom, Yall, Jirkuri, Yigi and Mbua. In general most Nduga residents have sought refuge in Lanny Jaya, Jayawijaya, Mimika, Asmat and Jayapura.

“So, more than half of the total population of Nduga has sought refuge in surrounding regencies or around 45 thousand or more. The total population of Nduga is less than 106 thousand people”, said Otomis Gwijangge, who is also the head of the Nduga regency communication and information division, on Wednesday July 31.

He added that because of evacuations, eight districts in Nduga have been left virtually empty.

Earlier, on July 22, Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko stated that they will hold an evaluation of the tactical activities of TNI and Polri personnel in Nduga. Moeldoko was reluctant however to give any details on the evaluation. (mts/kid)


Mapenduma Operation – A botched rescue operation in the remote Mapenduma area of West Papua led by then Kopassus commander Prabowo Subianto in 1996 to secure the release of World Wildlife Fund researches taken hostage by the Free Papua Movement that ended in a military attack on the Geselema village resulting in the death of up to eight civilians.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Bupati Minta Pemerintah Tarik TNI-Polri dari Nduga Papua”.]