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West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) Statement on Sweep Operation in Puncak Jaya

Contact: Ed McWilliams, +1-575-648-2078
Octo Mote, +1-203-520-3055
June 22 - Disturbing information has reached WPAT from a variety of sources of a very serious situation now transpiring in Puncak Jaya, West Papua.  A "sweep operation,' reportedly carried out by Indonesia's mobilized police or "Brimob," has killed several Papuans and led to the death of others.  People's homes have been raided and burned and  farm animals killed.  Hundreds of Papuans have been forced from homes and have sought refuge in surrounding forests where some have already died due to a lack of food, shelter  and access to medical care.  Reportedly, seven young  girls were taken hostage and raped. At least five villages are believed affected, but the military has also raided houses in Mulia, the Puncak Jaya district capital.

"Security" operations have been conduced in the Puncak Jaya district since April of this year though it appears these operations have broadened and become more violent since then.

In recent years similar "sweeps" conducted by the military, also lasting for months, have led to the death of hundreds of civilians displaced by the operations.
According to our information, West Papuans are falling victim to
rivalries among several different security forces of the army and the police in the area. They are deliberately provoking local resistance groups to engage in armed activities, perhaps as a way to ensure that the security forces continue to be well funded. This contradicts the decision by all West Papuan resistance groups to refrain from acts of violence and to focus on seeking dialogue with the authorities in Jakarta. The groups believe that  this is the best way of reaching a solution to the many West Papuan grievances accumulated since their unlawful, coerced integration within the Indonesian Republic in 1969.
It is difficult to get a clear picture of recent events because of long-standing restrictions on travel to and within West Papua imposed by the Indonesian government and security forces as part of their occupation strategy.
We urge the U.S. Government and the international community to demand the following:

  • an immediate cessation of the ongoing operations in the central highlands;

  • full access to the affected region by Indonesian and international
    humanitarian and human rights organizations to assist the besieged
    civilian population, as well as by journalists;

  • and an investigation by the Indonesian Human Rights Commission (Komnas Ham) to determine who authorized and is leading the current operation.

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