V. Human Rights Violations in the Central Highlands

This report consists almost entirely of first-hand testimony covering cases of human rights violations from across the Central Highlands in 2005 and 2006. During the course of this research Human Rights Watch documented eight confirmed and five other possible extrajudicial killings since 2005, all involving members of the police, and one of which members of the Tentara Nasional Indonesia (TNI), the Indonesian military, appear to be primarily responsible. We documented two rapes, one by a TNI soldier of a child, and one by Brimob officers.

In 10 of the 14 cases documented in this report, members of the police force were the perpetrators. Several victims told Human Rights Watch about their forced displacement due to sweeping operations by Brimob and army units, and were eyewitnesses to the deaths of nine civilians (two children and seven adults), most likely caused by exposure to diseases such as malaria and lack of access to medical treatment during displacement. 

Extra judicial executions and other abuses during sweeping operations

The passing of the Soeharto era and the transition to Special Autonomy has brought about some gradual easing of tensions between Papuans and the central government in Jakarta, resulting in some decrease in military crackdowns and sweeping operations of the Papuan population. The main reason for the recent reduction in these types of sweeping operations in Papua appears to be reduced armed activity by the OPM.

While the number and scale of sweeping campaigns in Papua as a whole has decreased since Soeharto stepped down, such operations still occur periodically, most often in the Central Highlands, where OPM activity and support remains strongest. While such operations typically are triggered by alleged OPM attacks, the security forces continue to respond with disproportionate and often lethal force, with surrounding communities subject to harsh collective punishment. Greater numbers of civilian lives are lost when communities, forced from their homes to set up makeshift shelter in the forests, succumb to illnesses caused by poor nutrition, inadequate housing, and lack of access to health services. Widespread destruction of private and community property—including crops, livestock, and schools—looting, and desecration of churches by security forces are common occurrences and make it very difficult for returning communities to rebuild and sustain themselves, protracting the experience of displacement. Many of the testimonies we gathered, presented below, focus on the consequences of displacement that follows abusive behavior by security forces.

Known sweeping operations were undertaken by security forces in the Kiyawage area in 2003, in Puncak Jaya during 2004, and in the Tolikara regency from January-March 2005;68 in August-October 2005 Puncak Jaya was targeted again in villages throughout Tinginamput District.

The 2004 and 2005 operations in Puncak Jaya were triggered by authorities’ efforts to find Goliat Tabuni, an OPM leader who heads one of the more active OPM cells in the Mulia region. In both operations, religious leaders were killed. In September 2004 Rev. Elisa Tabuni was killed by members of the military after he denied knowing the OPM leader’s whereabouts.69 His son, also a pastor, managed to escape with his hands cuffed.70 During the same operation, thousands were forcibly displaced to the mountains. The London-based human rights organization TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign, received a list of 53 names of civilians who reportedly had died as a consequence of the displacement.71 Other groups reported that up to 15,000 people had been displaced and 20 people, mainly children, had died.72 In the 2005 Puncak Jaya operation, another pastor, Apreke Tabuni, was executed by members of Brimob in circumstances similar to those under which the Rev. Elisa Tabuni had been killed the previous year.73

Brimob operations in Tolikara

In March 2005 a Brimob police unit was air-dropped from Jayapura into Tolikara Regency, marched the approximately 6o kilometers to Wunmi District, and conducted an aggressive sweeping operation. This was in response to the burning of several schools in late February 2005, allegedly by the OPM. On March 13, 2005, en route to Wunmi, a member of Brimob shot and killed a civilian named Lele Jikwa. Although we were unable to find any eyewitnesses to the killing, a man who came across Lele shortly after he had been shot reported that Lele was unarmed at the time.

As the witness told Human Rights Watch:

That morning I heard the sound of a gunshot but did not know that Lele Jikwa had been shot. After Brimob had continued marching in the direction of the District of Wunmi, I went to the area from where I had heard shots. I saw blood spreading along the length of the road. Because of all the blood I began looking for an injured person, and then I heard him crying out from the side of the road to Ponim. I found Lele Jikwa seriously injured by a gunshot wound and, because of his condition, I offered him help standing up. As we went I felt very sad. He said to me ‘I was shot by members of Brimob.’ I could see he was shot to the right hand side of the back of his chest and I could see all the bones were shattered. The road to Ponim became red. I helped him to sit down and a number of friends came, bringing wood and rope, and we carried him on our shoulders to the house of his family. There were seven of us who carried the victim.74

Another person recounts:

Around 8 a.m. I heard the sound of a single gunshot. I did not know who was shooting; the TNI or police, and I did not know until later that he [Lele Jikwa] had been shot by them…

I prepared to go to the garden. I was outside of the house when a large number of fully uniformed Brimob members marched past the yard. I do not know how many people. I felt scared and I returned to the house. They were wearing complete uniforms with guns and were marching in the direction of Wunmi district. After they had passed, at around 9 a.m. several community members brought Lele from the place of the incident…I couldn’t think and didn’t know what had happened…they had shot him on the right side of his back. I asked [name withheld] ‘Who shot him?’ and in the words of [name withheld] ‘Those who shot him were members of Brimob from Jayapura.’ After several hours, at 3 p.m., he died…after that incident, other community members fled as refugees to the jungle.75

Members of Brimob continued on to Wunmi, where community members report that officers burned 10 houses and shot and consumed dozens of chickens and pigs as well as large quantities of fruit from private houses in two villages, Honai and Inanagai, before returning to Tolikara on March 15. Following this incident, frightened villagers fled to the mountains where they remained until the end of April 2005. Witnesses claimed that seven displaced persons within their group died from malaria, diarrhea, or pneumonia they had contracted due to unhygienic conditions. One witness told Human Rights Watch:

After seeing this shooting incident and the burning of the houses we feared the same treatment so we decided to run to the mountains. At that time we wanted to take revenge on them but we felt we didn’t have enough strength.

The refugees lived together in one complex. We didn’t struggle with food because the garden was close to the mountains. We had the women gather food in the garden and we were always close by accompanying them. After two months in the mountains, a number of people became sick and died…

Seven refugees died. There were three women, three men, and one child. One woman who died was Karetina Wenda, aged 29 years. She was sick with malaria… and had pneumonia. She was sick for five days beginning on April 10, and on April 15 she died. One other woman by the name of Tegina Wantik, aged 28, also died due to malaria. Her illness lasted for one month, from May 12 until June 10 when she died. Another woman, Memenauge Murub, also died due to malaria. She was only sick for two days from May 1 and then on May 3 she died. She was around 50 years old. The three men who died were Yununggen Wandik, aged around 31 years. He was sick from diarrhoea. He was sick for one week beginning May 7. Another man, Bimbin Weya, aged around 45 years old, died from pneumonia. He was sick for two days commencing on March 9. Yunus Wantik also died from diarrhea.  He was around 45 years and his illness began on June 7. The child who died, Paiserah Relak, was only one-year-old, she was sick for only three days.76

A health officer staying with the displaced community told Human Rights Watch:

The community’s living conditions were very unhealthy and, as a consequence, seven people died, six adults and one small child. I tried to provide them with medical treatment but it didn’t help and I feel great sorrow that they died. They suffered from malaria, diarrhea, coughing up blood and pneumonia so I gave them medicines…that I had brought from outside of the jungle.77

Brimob operations in Puncak Jaya

The sweeping operation undertaken by Brimob in Puncak Jaya in August 2005 occurred after Brimob officers from Mulia responded to a report that OPM leader Goliat Tabuni was present in the village of Kuragi visiting his ailing parents.  Early in the morning of August 17, 2005, a number of Brimob officers arrived in Kuragi village and questioned villagers. Villagers told Human Rights Watch that they denied that Tabuni was in the area and, to placate Brimob members, had offered them meat. Later, however, the Brimob officers arrested three people in the local church, after which the situation deteriorated. At some point a Brimob member was shot in the right rib, although the circumstances of the shooting remain unclear. The officer was evacuated to Jayapura for medical treatment.

The remaining Brimob members redoubled their search for Goliat Tabuni and his OPM followers. On August 18 and 19 more Brimob reinforcements were air-dropped from Jayapura by helicopter and commenced sweeping operations across at least 13 villages in the district of Tinginamput. One witness told Human Rights Watch:

On August 17, at 9 p.m., a number of Brimob officers arrived by truck. They stayed in several churches there and planned their fighting strategy… on the 18th and 19th troops began dropping from Jayapura by helicopter to Puncak Jaya and they spread through several districts including Pigiragi, Brime, Ngalume, Erumugun, Limajari, Monia, Wonaluka, Poruageneri, Pawagarau, Kekung, Erimuli, Kuragi, and the city of Mulia. In all the places they shot their weapons but no community members were shot because they had already fled.78

Villagers in the area told Human Rights Watch that they estimate as a consequence of these deployments 16,000 civilians fled to the mountains or to other regions. Local residents’ fears were stoked by reports that Brimob officers had tortured an OPM member they had caught. As one witness told us:  

[The OPM member] was shot in the chest, with the bullet entering through his back. At that time he was holding an M16 weapon which was taken by Brimob.  After he was shot [dead] his hair was drenched with cooking oil and set alight.79

During the sweeping operation, Brimob troops reportedly destroyed houses and buildings, and looted or burned gardens and fields. The widespread destruction and lack of assistance in re-building, many villagers did not return to their houses for several months.80 Describing the fear the sweeping operation induced, a villager told Human Rights Watch:

After the shooting [of the Brimob member] on August 17, many more Brimob came from the city of Mulia to the village of ‘Five Fingers’ where the Brimob member had been shot. As soon as they arrived they started shooting. I heard the shooting and began running in the direction of the jungle. I did not even have the opportunity to collect my belongings, which all remained at the house. Nor could I even collect my young child who at that time was being cared for by someone else, but was taken by them. Thereafter I, together with my child, and a number of members of the community from the village Monia began life as refugees close to Yamo. There we made a shelter...we could not get good food.81

Brimob established roadblocks and patrols through the area, preventing displaced persons from returning to collect food from whatever gardens were not destroyed. 

Many displaced people remained in the jungle for four months until the end of December 2005. It is not known how many died. All suffered acute privations. One of those displaced told Human Rights Watch:

After the shooting [of the Brimob officer], many troops were parachuted in by helicopter to the villages of Tingginamput and Kuragi...After hearing the sound of the shots I immediately ran to the jungle. The distance was approximately 10 kilometers. There I met with a number of families who had also fled because they did not feel safe. We were seven adults—four men, three women—and two children aged around five to six years old. For four months we lived as refugees in the jungle. There we stayed but did not feel safe as we often heard the sound of gunfire and were very nervous and traumatized.

On August 18 at 8 a.m., a number of members of Brimob and TNI began coming from Punjak Jaya in trucks to the villages of Tinginamput and Kuragi. They opened fire in many directions including in the direction of the jungle. After we heard the sound of shooting we ran deeper into the jungle. After four days and nights of sleeping in the jungle I fell ill with malaria. At that time there were no medical staff and it was difficult to obtain medicine…all the roads were guarded by members of Brimob and TNI who stopped members of the community seeking access to the community clinic or hospital in Puncak Jaya. At the time I was sick I took only traditional medicine collected from the jungle. At the end of December 2005 I was able to get to the hospital in Mulia and was provided with medical treatment until I had recovered. During the time I spent in the jungle I wasn’t able to get good food. We could only collect a little food from the farms but it was very difficult because Brimob members guarded the roads to the gardens day and night.82

Another internally displaced person shared a similar story with Human Rights Watch:

For four months we lived in the jungle, from August until November 2005. During this time we were refugees. We could not get any good food as we were in the middle of the jungle and it was difficult to go to the gardens for food as all the pathways leading to and from the villages were guarded by members of Brimob and TNI. So for four months we ate only nettles and bananas. We were a group of eight adults—three women, five men—and three children...Two of our members died in the jungle as they could not be helped. Naniamban Wenda, a 45-year-old man who was sick for four months, died in December. The other was a two-month-old infant, Letera Tabuni, who died in September. During the time they were sick there were no health professionals to give them medicine and this caused their very sad deaths. We all suffered immensely. We did not sleep well and we ate little. Now and then we had food, but when there was none we just had to endure…due to our situation we did not eat well and our bodies became weak. If we found bananas in the jungle we gave them to the young children. It was especially hard on the children and so we made special efforts to look after them.83

Another man who was displaced from Kuragi and living with a different, larger group in the jungle similarly reported:

Amongst the refugees were many children who died because they did not have good food and good sleeping conditions. Mosquito bites made many people ill. The lack of medical treatment meant that many community members who became ill then died.84

Due to continuing prohibitions on media and NGO access to Papua, no reliable figures exist concerning the number of deaths caused by these operations or the total numbers of civilians displaced.

Forced displacement also prevents children from attending school and the burning and destruction of government buildings often includes schools, guaranteeing that such interruptions in education have long-term consequences. One villager told Human Rights Watch:

At the time, schools were shut down. School children were also victims and fled to the jungle with their parents… we have not yet returned to our village of Tinginamput because we remain very traumatized by all the things done by Brimob and TNI. We are still living in Mulia. A number of villages are overgrown, and the conditions in villages are now very poor.85

Many residents independently told Human Rights Watch that Brimob officers used churches for accommodation in their 2005 Puncak Jaya operation and sometimes desecrated them upon their departure. This caused ongoing disruption to religious activities and dampened the morale and emotional recovery of local communities. Many churches remain badly damaged.86 As was the case during the Brimob operation in Tolikara (detailed above), religious leaders were not spared the direct brunt of human rights violations. One community member reported:

At the time of the Brimob operation the troops stayed in the church of Tanobaga. When they left all the sacred items in the church were burnt, and even the pulpit was destroyed. During the military operation the community could not enter the church for prayer and religious service. After the shooting started on August 17, 2005, all the church worship activities stopped until 2006. There are 10 church buildings that are still empty. The congregation is scared because a church leader, Anton Tabuni, was killed hiding in the church. During the four months we were displaced in the jungle from August until the end of December, the congregation worshipped in the jungle. After returning to the village we could not resume our worship properly until 2006.87

Similarly, another victim reported:

Brimob and TNI used various churches including at Wurigele and Yogonik. They used them as places to sleep and eat, and when they were ready to leave they destroyed them. Glass was smashed, the sacred cloths and pulpit were burnt. Until this time, the churches remain damaged and the activities of the church disrupted.88

The destruction and looting of houses, gardens, crops, and the theft of livestock during sweeping operations ensure ongoing suffering even once displaced communities are able to return. Livelihoods are easily destroyed overnight but can take months and years to rebuild, especially when an entire community’s financial capital has been destroyed. Such widespread destruction limits the ability of community members to help each other and further increases the hardships suffered by vulnerable groups, especially already marginalized people such as female-headed families with few or no resources to tide them over.

One man told Human Rights Watch:

After four months we returned to our village at the end of December 2005. Our village was badly damaged. The yards were totally overgrown, houses in a number of villages had been burnt by Brimob, all our gardens were destroyed

Serious human rights violations by the police

2005 flag raising

Ceremonies at which the Morning Star flag is raised, symbolizing independence aspirations, remain a common expression of Papuan nationalism and defiance. While such flag raisings are in themselves peaceful, they frequently are met with brutal repression by Indonesian authorities, who view them as a dangerous and illegal form of separatist activity.

One early morning in 2005 [exact date withheld], 12 members of TPN (Tentara Papua Nasional, Papua National Army) and OPM conducted a peaceful flag-raising ceremony in a field near a village in Bolakme [exact date and location withheld]. In response, Brimob arrived at the scene equipped with fire arms and in full uniform. They immediately opened fire aiming at the flag, into the air, and violently accosted those present. One witness told Human Rights Watch:

It was around 5 a.m. From out of the forest many people came. I also went down there. And there we raised the Morning Star flag. We stayed on the edge of the field until 7 a.m. and then we raised the flag. Brimob came there that morning. They pointed their guns at us. There were 12 members there. They asked ‘Who is in charge here?’ But we were all silent. All our bows and arrows were collected together. They ordered us to take off our shirts and they took away our bracelets and chicken feathers [head decorations of the Dani people]. After that they hit us using the end of their guns. They kicked us using their military boots. My teeth fell out.  Blood flowed out. I was hit. I was kicked twice and then in the stomach twice again. I was kicked in the nose, the mouth and the teeth. More kicks were ordered and this was repeated. I could not count the number of times. I saw all my friends given the same treatment.  Blood was flowing from them and they were forbidden from going to the toilet.  They ordered us to swallow our blood. My nose was bleeding. They ordered us to swallow the blood again. I do not know the name of the officer in command. They all punched us, taking turns. We were given one cigarette and all ordered to suck it. One packet of noodles was given to us and we were ordered to share this for all of us. They ridiculed us saying, ‘You’ve already eaten Papuan bread.’

The flag pole was yanked out. The flag was wrapped up. We were ordered to carry on our shoulders the heavy wood. There were 12 of us in total who had raised the flag.

Once we reached the Brimob post…[we] were still receiving blows. Brimob questioned us again about who was in charge. We were all silent and closed our mouths…a Brimob officer lit a lighter then placed it in our mouths. But we were still silent. They lit the lighter and put it on our tongues, then on our ears. They burnt my ear and my tongue. This was very painful. They beat us with their gun butts…they ordered us to eat blood. I didn’t want to. They punched and kicked me continuously until I ate that blood. That morning they beat us with rifle butts and barbed wire. Until 8 a.m. they were still beating us.

After that they threw us in a truck. The truck took us to the police station. That morning was very cold.  They turned on the water and drenched us one by one with a bucket. My head was drenched.  We were quivering and shaking and still we did not answer. Then they beat us with their boots, aiming for our hearts. Each of us, two times. We were all dizzy. I was wanting to die. With their feet they kicked my head again.90

Another victim told a similar story:

The police came and we were arrested immediately by 12 members of Brimob. I was kicked by eight members of Brimob, to my back five times and to my ribs 10 times, five times on the right and five on the left. They beat me taking turns. They were all wearing complete uniforms, but I did not see their names and ranks clearly. They were Brimob, coming from Jayapura. Eight members of Brimob guarding me kicked me five times on the left and right with their boots, cracking my face until it was full of blood…the beating continued by them including with knives until my head was cut and face bloodied. One member of Brimob threatened me with a knife held to my neck, ‘I will kill you, so you can pray first’. He also said ‘You all will be taken by us to Wamena where you will be killed.’  We were very scared by these threats and thought we were going to be killed there.91

Another man recounted his experience:

Brimob came and started shooting. They were wearing complete uniforms with guns, and they shot in the direction of the flag. The flag tore down the middle. We were arrested, hit, and kicked. We were ordered to squat and walk squatting to the Brimob post. We were tied together and ordered to carry the flag pole on our shoulders. On the road we were continually kicked. I was kicked twice by one member of the police to my eyebrow which was bleeding. I was hit again with the gun in the back three times, and then with the gun butt three times to my face. A Brimob member hit me with truncheon on my head twice…after that we were tied again into twos and thrown into a truck. But a number of women boarded the truck and they cut the ties binding us with a knife, and we escaped.92

A fourth man described how he was mistreated at the Brimob watch post:

On the long road we were continually kicked until we arrived at the watch post.  I was guarded by a member of the police armed with a knife. My face was swollen by the assaults inflicted on me. I could not count the number of strikes as there were too many. My lips and nose were bleeding. My blood was mixed with chicken meat and I was ordered to eat it. I didn’t want to and they forced me to. I was silent and didn’t say anything. At their post they prepared cold water in a bucket and we were drenched one by one. We were given one cigarette stump and one packet of uncooked noodles and were ordered to eat, one by one, taking turns.93 

The arrest of David Hubi

On March 15, 2006, police appeared at the house of former district head (Bupati) David Hubi in Wamena, Jayawijaya. Hubi had been suspended from office on corruption charges and had four times failed to appear in court to face charges.94 In preparation for his arrest, police had conducted surveillance of his house on March 14, and then blocked roads leading to his residence on March 15. Supporters, including family members, children, and women, along with some male supporters, armed with traditional weapons such as bows and arrows, spears, and machetes, flocked to Hubi’s house to demonstrate their support, and to obstruct the authorities’ access to the area. 

From 6 a.m.-11 a.m. a standoff took place between Hubi and his supporters and the Jayawijaya special reserve police, alongside prosecutors from Wamena. Hubi’s supporters refused to open the door to his house and Hubi continued to deny his surrender. Negotiators for Hubi said that the arrest warrant was not accompanied by a final order from the District Court and that the arrest was therefore unlawful. Negotiations broke down.95

According to Indonesia’s national Human Rights Commission, KOMNAS HAM members of the reserve police asserted that members of the crowd started to attack them, with one officer reportedly injured by an arrow to his leg. The police then opened fire on the crowd, killing two men, Sodeman Hubi, the younger brother of David Hubi, and Mokarineak Kossay. They also seriously injured a third man, Hali Matuan, who later died from his injuries. Newspapers reported that some 143 other people were injured.96

According to witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch, police broke down the door to Hubi’s home and discharged tear gas into the house, beating those in the way and forcing them into the yard. Police armed with rifle butts and rubber batons assaulted unarmed civilians. All those present on the property, including children as young as nine years old, were herded into police vehicles and tear gas was discharged nearby. Those detained were taken to Jayawijaya police station where victims say they were further mistreated and neglected by the police.

One eyewitness told Human Rights Watch:

On May 15 after 10 a.m., the prosecutor and police from Jayawijaya, guided by detective Nur Bakti, together with the head of operations, Naharudin, came to negotiate with us…the negotiations were not successful and the detective, Nur Bakti said, ‘We will carry out the order using force and we will count to 10 but if you don’t surrender to us, we will then use force.’

The police then began to shoot tear gas. I wanted to take pictures of them but the gas was affecting me…Police shot tear gas inside the hall and other rooms. Because my eyes were feeling hot I immediately went to the bathroom to wash my eyes. I was coming out of the bathroom when the agents entered. I wanted to use my camera but two police quickly grabbed me and arrested me. They took my camera and pulled at my clothes. At the same time they punched me and accused me of being a provocateur. I didn’t have the chance to see who was punching me because my eyes were affected by the gas and my face had filled with blood. I was beaten with the end of a gun on my back, and with fists to my face. My mouth and eyes were smashed and bleeding. I felt dizzy and fell. Straight away I was kicked by five members of the police and Brimob. They were all wearing complete official uniforms with guns...then, a member of the police, Daud Matuan, ordered them to stop. I was barely conscious when five members of the police took me into the car. As they were taking me, they punched me in the back three times with rifle butts and then in the car I was beaten with a truncheon.97

Another witness told Human Rights Watch:

[When the violence began] I was sitting [in David Hubi’s house] together with Sodeman Hubi who was later shot…glass began breaking. I stopped some small children from entering the room. Brimob troops began shooting left and right. Before they began shooting they released tear gas. I couldn’t resist because I couldn’t see much…the children and I were inside the house…at that time we were treated as though we were terrorists. The door was shot down. I was very scared. I looked for shelter under the table on the floor. Left and right I could see troops with guns looking for me.“Mana Ibu [name withheld]” [‘Where is name withheld’] were their words. I raised my hand. Brimob punched me…my nose was puffy and swollen. My eyes were injured…they hit using their hands; so many times I could not count. One police detective defended me…my face was distorted and full of blood. One Brimob member insulted me, calling me a ‘whore.’98

Young children present at the former district chief’s house were not spared. One 9-year-old boy told Human Rights Watch:

The day before the incident I hadn’t been playing there but others told me that they wanted to arrest David and that we had to keep watch, so I went along. I didn’t know there would be an incident…that morning we had finished our cake and I was playing with my friends. I saw that there were many police coming. I didn’t know what they were coming for. I wanted to leave the area. But my older brother was angry. He said ‘Don’t go out or later police will beat you.’ So I stayed where I was. I was always together with my brother. At around midday the police said that they wanted to arrest Mr. Hubi, I did not expect that they would beat us. But they immediately fired tear gas. My eyes were burning painfully and I could not see. I struggled for air but couldn’t get it. They punched my brother. I felt very sorry for him. I cried and yelled ‘Don’t hit my brother,’ but the police immediately hit me on my right cheek then held onto me with his right hand and threw me into the garden bed. I fell and was in a lot of pain. We young children gathered. The police were shooting to the left and right. I wanted to run but I was scared.

Not long after, three police came and beat the young children one by one. I was held and beaten again. It was very painful. The police ordered us to get into the police car. When I was close to the car, police threw me onto the car. He held my neck and threw me above. The car was full of tear gas. I was immediately dizzy and I couldn’t see. They took us to the police station. We were thrown out of the car. Some other children were beaten as they got down...Police ordered us to line up in the sun. They ordered us to lie down. After that they didn’t beat us but we didn’t have food. We were held there until night-time. The small children were all told to leave at around midnight.99

A 13-year-old boy told a similar story:

Quickly the police entered into the yard of the [former] Bupati’s house. They came complete with guns. There were many Brimob. I wanted to run but I couldn’t. I did not expect them to attack and hit the children. But immediately the police used their tear gas. My eyes were burning. I couldn’t see anything. We were crying, not only me, but all the small children. We were ordered to gather at the front. I wanted to run but was chased by police. The police officer hit me on my head twice. I was immediately dizzy. I cried. A Brimob officer kicked me and threw me to the front. They kicked me once. I fell. Police pulled me by my arm. When we were close to the police car, I was thrown on top with many other small children. When we were in the car Brimob again used tear gas. We could not see. Our eyes were burning.

After we arrived at the Polres Jayawijaya, police grabbed us and threw us down from the car. After that we were ordered to line up in the sun. While we were doing that, a policeman came and was angry with us. He said ‘You small children should not be going along to demonstrations.’ We stayed at Polres until 12 p.m. We didn’t eat. Finally a number of women pleaded for us to be released, and we were released. There were many small children there. I couldn’t count them all. I was sick so I couldn’t count. After we left to go to my house, I felt sick. Afterwards I was still sick so I didn’t go to school for five days.100

Similar brutality was shown to a woman who was six months pregnant:

At that time of the incident there were discussions continuing inside among police, Ms. [name withheld] and [name withheld]. But I could see that the atmosphere was already very serious. I stood close to the fence at the back of the building where many women were standing.  Not long after that, we heard the sound of shooting and the main section of the door opened. Brimob burst in, shooting into the air. I thought they were only firing warning shots. I was startled to see them begin to use tear gas. At first I was not affected but then they shot the tear gas in our direction and it immediately affected my eyes. My eyes were in pain. I saw the Bupati’s children being kicked. I became very scared. I wanted to run to the back but Brimob had already surrounded the place. They opened fire, shooting everywhere. We could not run and we bent down in submission. At that time I was 6 months pregnant. I was short of breath. My heart wanted to explode. I was confused because of the tear gas and then quickly I was threatened with a gun. Two members of Brimob did this. One member kicked me twice. I was stamped on and pulled up to stand. I was hit with a rifle butt to my nose and it immediately began bleeding. 

After that I was ordered to climb into a police vehicle…but the vehicle was high, so they had to push me up. While they were holding me, a policeman kicked me in the stomach. I thought my baby would die. I could not get up. But I was kicked again in the back so I got in. After that many others were put in and they closed the door.

At the police station, my baby was heavy so I wanted to get out slowly but I was immediately pushed outside. Three police climbed on top of the vehicle to push us out. While getting out I was hit again to my left calf. This was very painful as the blow was with a truncheon.

After we arrived at the police station we were all ordered to line up in the yard. We were told to lie out in the sun for around one hour. I felt very sorry for the small children. They were also beaten and forced to lie in the sun. There were also many women, approximately 20 although I do not know precisely how many. There were many children. We were punished all afternoon in the yard. At 8 p.m. that night I vomited twice. One police guard abused me saying, ‘Whore, Woman working for the enemy.’ At midnight we were released.

When I got back to my house I was very sick and vomited three times.101

In total around 200 people were detained in relation to this incident.102 Most were released late on the night of March 15, 2006 or the following day. Eight people, including three women, were charged with offenses of threatening violence and obstructing arrest.103 The three women who were detained were interrogated by the police for three days and then conditionally released.104

The five men were detained at Polres for 60 days and then transferred to cells at the Wamena prosecutor’s office and detained for a further month.105 After several hearings, at which seven members of the police and the prosecutor gave evidence against the charged group, the court issued a final decision in November 2006 sentencing the five men to three months of imprisonment. As they had already spent three months in jail they were immediately released.106

Human Rights Watch has been unable to confirm whether any police officers have been investigated or charged for their roles in this incident. We wrote to the head of the police in Papua asking for information on this case but did not receive any response. The police have consistently defended their behavior, claiming that the force used was both reasonable and proportionate.107 Although some of the people surrounding Hubi’s house did have spears and bows and arrows, the majority were unarmed. The testimony above strongly suggests that police used excessive force with respect to persons present who were not offering any serious resistance, including women and children.  

Several victims from this incident have filed a complaint with Komnas HAM Papua, who then reported it to the Komnas HAM office in Jakarta. To our knowledge, however, there have been no further developments in the case.

Mulia DPRD Demonstration

There is also some evidence suggesting that police may have used excessive and disproportionate force on September 29, 2006, in the city of Mulia, the regional capital of Puncak Jaya. In this case, the protesters were residents who had been denied a government fuel subsidy (compensating for fuel price hikes) on grounds that they were not originally from the Puncak Jaya region. The disgruntled members decided to conduct a peaceful protest at the office of the Provincial Legislative Assembly (the DPRD) in New Mulia City. At 12p.m. that day they gathered in the old city and began a 10 kilometer march towards the DPRD office. 

Witnesses recount that, as the crowd moved forward, marchers began throwing rocks breaking the windows of houses lining the main road.108 Brimob was called to back up the police to prevent the protestors from entering the DPRD office compound. Under conditions that remain unclear and require additional public investigation, police opened fire upon the crowd, wounding three civilians, two men and a woman.

One eyewitness described the events as follows:

[When the march arrived at the] DPRD office where the protesters wanted to deliver their demands, the group was prevented by the police from entering. The crowd then became emotional, threatening to burn down the DPRD office. Iri Telenggen, a member of the DPRD, and Henok Ibo, a caretaker, summoned the police. The police opened fire. Three people were shot at that time: Lele, Iterina, and Mondin. Brimob had approximately four members using guns. After Lele was shot, Iterina Teleggen came forward wanting to assist, but Iterina was then shot in her left leg. The two were taken by ambulance to the Puncak Jaya hospital. At that same place, Mondin was shot by a member of Kopassus. After the shooting the crowd started to disperse.109

A second witness who assisted the victims at the scene told Human Rights Watch:

Police blocked the demonstration. The crowd continued marching towards their goal, the DPRD office, and finally Brimob opened fire shooting three civilian community members in the yard of the office of DPRD Puncak Jaya. Those shot were two men and one woman, Iterina Telenggen, Mondin Teleggen and Lele Tabuni…Iterina was shot in the left leg. Mondin Telenggen was shot twice in the back, twice in the right flank and once on his right arm between his armpit and elbow…members of Brimob were ordered to load the injured in an ambulance. That day I also went straight to the public hospital in Mulia. In Mondin’s body were five bullets so he was later evacuated to Jayapura. On the same day Lele was also evacuated to Jayapura for an operation to remove bullets but they were not removed. The reason given by the doctor was that the injured men didn’t have enough money for the costs of the treatment. It is not clear where the two patients are located today…

Later Iterina had an operation to repair damaged muscle tissue and was given medical treatment at the public hospital in Mulia for one month. During this time she was under tight police security day and night. After she was released she was picked up at the hospital by a member of the police and immediately taken to the police station for the process of investigation...she was detained at Polres Puncak Jaya for more than a month in late 2006. On December 8, she was taken to Paniai for investigation and a court hearing.110

Shootings in Waghete

In Waghete, Paniai, on January 20, 2006, police shot and seriously injured two young men while undertaking a routine policing matter. The TNI also became involved and are believed responsible for the shooting death of a third victim, a 16-year-old child.  While key facts in the case remain unclear, a soldier subsequently was convicted of shooting the 16-year-old but received a sentence of only eight months of imprisonment. As the account below indicates, the case warrants more thorough investigation.

In this case, some local youths had established a roadblock and were demanding small sums of money from drivers of vehicles, ostensibly to fund repairs to that stretch of road. A police officer from Polsek Waghete demanded that they present to him the following day a letter from the village chief authorizing them to collect a toll. Early the following morning, two of the youths, [names withheld], obtained the letter from the village chief and departed for Waghete together with an unknown number of others to have it authorized by the military (Koramil) and police (Polsek) who shared adjoining compounds. Upon presenting the letter to the relevant officer, other police arrived and ripped the letter to pieces.

The youths then attempted to flee and the police pursued them. One of the youths was captured and beaten. Hearing the commotion, members of Koramil, Timsus 753 emerged from their barracks and joined the police in beating the youth.

Precisely what happened next is not clear. Eyewitnesses told Human Rights Watch that, shortly after the beating began, a police officer fell into a sewage ditch, got up, drew his pistol and shot two bullets, hitting one of the youths in the right side of the stomach, and another youth in the right foot, and that TNI members and other police also opened fire. Mozes Douw, a 16-year-old school student was shot and killed at the scene. From the accounts, it is unclear how many youth were present at the time and whether or to what extent they may have physically threatened police.

One eyewitness told Human Rights Watch:

On January 20 at 7:30 a.m., I was with some of my friends at the Waghete terminal to load things onto a truck to Nabire. At that time I saw a youth being beaten by police along with members of Timsus 753 [TNI] on the roof of the police station. When we saw police and TNI members beating another youth outside the Waghete police station, I said to my friends, ‘Let’s go and see who they’re attacking. Let’s see if he is one of us.’ In the commotion, Danton Budi Arif Situmean [police officer], was hit and fell. He took out his pistol and fired two shots, the first straight in front of me and the other towards a person standing behind me. I didn’t know who that person was, but the distance between me and him was just around 50 centimetres. At the time of the second shot it was around 8 a.m. So I didn’t know who had been shot because they were behind me.111

Danton Budi Arif Situmean chased but did not catch one of the youths who was a victim of the shooting and who fled the scene. The same witness to the initial shooting assisted this youth with shooting injuries.

Although [name withheld] suffered a bullet wound, he managed to get away from the area. [Name withheld] also suffered a bullet wound and ran soaked [in blood] onto the road to Wakai. We took him directly to the community health clinic in Waghete. After we had taken him, we saw members of the community throwing rocks and sticks in the direction of the Timsus 753 troops who had opened fire on the youths who were fleeing the police station. I returned to the police station and by standing on a bridge at the entry to the station could see through the window. I saw three people, one wearing a white T-shirt with the number 14 on it.

I turned to look at the road and saw a youth, Mozes Douw, walking along. Then I heard the sound of shooting coming from the police station. I heard Mozes Douw say ‘I have been shot with bullets’ and clasp his waist, bending down. Then I heard the sound of two more shots from the same direction, which hit him in the shoulder. Mozes Douw immediately fell, without calling out…this shooting occurred at 9 a.m.112

An independent autopsy upon the body of Mozes Douw confirmed that he was killed by gunshot wounds fired from a range of 10-75 meters.113

The killing of Mozes Douw and the shooting of the two other youths drew an angry response from local residents. On January 24, 2006, members of the community confronted a joint delegation of DPRD members, TNI officers, and the police at the Timsus TNI office in Enarotali.114

The response of the authorities was initially promising. The DPRD announced that two teams would be established to investigate the shootings, one to investigate the site, the other to liaise with TNI in Jakarta. The police and TNI conceded responsibility for the shooting incident, promising that action would be taken against those culpable. Statements from the head of Kapolres and Timsus 753 provided promises that the case would be investigated and responsible personnel charged.

The following day two officers believed responsible were named; TNI officer Second Lieutenant Situmeang, who was alleged to have shot two of the youths, and police officer Ronald Isac Tumena, at that time believed to be responsible for shooting Mozes Douw.

However, since then no police have been disciplined or charged in relation to the incident. Second Lieutenant Situmeang, subsequently identified as the officer responsible for the shooting of Mozes Douw, was sentenced by a military tribunal to eight months in prison.115 Komnas HAM Papua also conducted an investigation into the incident and reported it to their central office. However, no further public actions have yet resulted.

Police Killing of Man in Wamena

This case occurred in 2006 [exact date withheld], also in the Jayawijaya Region, in a village [name withheld] in Wamena. The victim had been drinking with two friends at his house for several hours. His wife asked him to buy something from a local shop. On the way back from the shop, the victim reportedly made a lewd and suggestive comment to three women returning to their houses, one of whom was the wife of a police officer. She called her husband and informed him of the victim’s insulting behavior. That police officer and two other officers immediately drove to the victim’s house, broke down the door, and searched for him. The victim’s wife recounts what she saw and heard:

I saw the police come to the house. I knew my husband was drunk and thought that was why they wanted to arrest him. I warned my husband and he went to another room. There were three police. Their names are [withheld]. They arrived by motorcycle. At the time there were three of us in the house; Robi, my husband, and me. One of the police wore police uniform and held a gun. The other two wore civilian clothing. Robi [a friend of the victim’s present at the house] escaped from the house, leaving just myself and my husband. One of the police questioned ‘Mrs. is your husband here?’ I didn’t respond.  After that they broke the door to the house and began looking for my husband. They locked the door from the inside so I could not enter the house. In a state of uncontrolled anger they looked for my husband but they did not find him. They then searched from room to room. They found him underneath the bed. They yanked him out and punched and kicked him without control. The police officer holding the gun beat him on the left side of his chin using the rifle butt. They continued kicking his chin and face. Blood came out from his nose and mouth and wouldn’t stop.  From outside I heard him yelling out ‘Please Mama.’ His left jaw was broken and he died right there at the house.

After the torture that caused his death, the three police came out of the house and their words to me were, ‘We will take him to the police station and detain him in a cell.’ One member of the police went to the police station in Jayawijaya to rouse a mobile patrol and the other two members of the police guarded the victim. They saw that [my husband] had died and his body was taken to the hospital for certification.116

Police Beating of Man in Apalapsili

In 2006 [exact date withheld] in a village located in Apalapsili District, Jayawijaya, [exact location withheld] police officers sought to enforce a civil debt of two pigs owed by a farmer, to another man. The farmer received a summons from the police to appear at the police station. On August 22, 2006, he went to the police station, as did the other party. A police officer, named Mufti [name changed to protect the victim] ordered him to bring two pigs to pay the other man the following day. The farmer complained that he did not have two pigs to pay, but his protest was not accepted. The following day the farmer went to the police station with some close family members, but without the pigs. Negotiations with the police and the other party were proceeding when Mufti arrived in civilian clothing with a number of other police and asked where the pigs were. When it was apparent that the farmer had not brought the pigs, Mufti assaulted him and threatened his family at gunpoint. The farmer told Human Rights Watch:

He said three times, ‘Do you want to pay now or not?’ He pointed his gun at my family again. He ordered me to put my hands on the table. He used a rubber baton to beat my hands repeatedly until they were all broken. I did not have strong bones, and all my fingers were broken. All were smashed. I was immediately dizzy. After that my family took me to the medical clinic for treatment, but they could not handle my serious case and so I went to Wamena for treatment. There they had to amputate some of my fingers. Now I only have three fingers left on my left hand that still function. My right hand is useless. I can no longer work in the garden. I am confused about what will become of me now.117

The farmer reported his mistreatment to the police in Apalapsili. Human Rights Watch has not been able to confirm whether the authorities had taken any action on his complaint at the time of this writing. 

TNI Abuses

Human Rights Watch’s research in the Central Highlands also uncovered several cases of abuses by TNI forces, some in their official capacity, and others in their private capacity but with reason to believe that their status as TNI members would protect them and give them immunity. The cases suggest that brutality is still all too common among soldiers in the Central Highlands and that soldiers who abuse civilians continue to feel confident that they are above the law and will suffer no adverse consequences for their actions.

TNI Beating of Two Men

A man in Wamena was involved in a private dispute with two drivers concerning payment for the delivery of rice to him. After earlier threatening to report him to the police if he did not pay, in 2005 [date withheld], the two drivers went to a house in Wamena where the man was visiting a friend, bringing some intelligence officers to “assist” them in enforcing the debt. The intelligence officers reportedly hit both the victim and his friend with an iron bar, despite the fact that the friend was not party to the dispute.

The victim told Human Rights Watch:

I opened the door and before I had a chance to say anything, immediately the Intel Kodim [military intelligence] member threatened me with a weapon. I said ‘Sit first please sir and let us talk and resolve this problem well.’ However, he continued threatening me with the weapon and then hit me with an iron bar which was approximately one meter long. Then the other Intel police officer wearing civilian clothes joined in. I was against the wall and they kicked me with their boots all over my face until I could not get up. They continued threatening and insulting me calling me words such as ‘pig’ and ‘idiot.’ I couldn’t count the number of hits. I tried to call the Jayawijaya police station but my mobile phone was confiscated by a member of the military intelligence. I was continually beaten on my back with the bar. Finally we were taken to the police station. There we were not beaten and were able to resolve the matter by paying Rp500, 000 [US$57].118

The two men were released from police custody at around 12p.m. The friend, who was attacked by the police only because he was present, required 18 stitches to his head. He told Human Rights Watch:

I was sitting there and the military intelligence officer asked, ‘you are friends with him [pointing at victim], no?’ I said this was true. After hearing that, six people immediately started kicking me, two members of Jayawijaya police intelligence, one member of the military intelligence from battalion 1702, and the two drivers. That occurred on Friday, [date withheld] at night. The one with the pistol kicked me in the face everywhere until my eyes were damaged. Blood was flowing from my face...the ground was covered in blood. They did not want to stop. They continued punching my ears and nose until they bled. From this beating I became dizzy. While I was still dizzy they continued to stomp on me. After that I was taken outside to the garage. There I was beaten again. They beat me so many times that I could not count the number of blows. We were taken to the police station. In the police cell I was still dizzy from the beatings…I was beaten around my eyes until I needed stitches, 18 in total, nine on the inside and nine on the outside.119

TNI beating of uncle of rape victim

In May 2005 a soldier raped a 16-year-old girl in Jayawijaya. (The case is described in detail in the subsection: “Violence against women and other violations of women’s rights,” below). The victim’s teacher then told the victim’s uncle about the attack and he traveled from Wamena to assess the incident and take action against the reported perpetrator. For his efforts, he too was beaten by the same perpetrator.

The uncle told Human Rights Watch:

[Rape victim’s name withheld] is my niece. I was very angry when I heard the story. I wanted to raise the case with the head of the village in [location withheld] but I was scared that later the soldier [rape suspect] would hear, so I remained silent…at the time I was on leave and departed for the village. I caught a plane there…the problem had occurred in May and I went there in August. When I got to [location withheld] I asked the teacher for information. Evidently the information I had heard was true and that night I met with the village chief. The suspect and the village chief were close friends. After hearing that I wanted to raise the case the village chief reported this to the suspect.  Very early, at around 5 a.m. the next day, I was sleeping when I heard kicking at the door and a voice ordering me out of the house. I was initially confused and wanted to run, but couldn’t. The suspect pulled me by the arm outside. He kicked me. He punched me. He put his gun to my ear and eyes. He said, ‘If you’re so brave, then you can deal with me!’ I was bleeding heavily and the people whose house I was staying in came out…but they were scared too, so they all disappeared.

Two friends of the soldier stood on the road near the yard of the house. They had heard the news and wanted to support their army friend. No other people came to the house. He beat me until I was almost dead. After I was beaten, the suspect repeated his threat, saying ‘If you are brave enough to take me on, then I will murder you.’ I was sick for more than one week...I did not want to tell my story because I was afraid I would be murdered there. In [location withheld] people can’t blame the military even if they are wrong. If they accuse them they come and beat them. ….I was scared to report him to his commander in case he killed members of my family. I left my family there and remained silent.120

TNI Assault in Jayawijaya

In 2005 [date withheld] in a village in Jayawijaya, a man was hurrying to the medical clinic to get eye medication for his newly born child when he met with a uniformed TNI member [name withheld to protect victim’s identity] he was already acquainted with, based at the Koramil. The soldier immediately asked the victim to contribute a pig to help pay for his upcoming wedding ceremony. The victim told Human Rights Watch:

I responded ‘Why marry so fast? Try to be patient.’ Immediately upon hearing these words, the TNI slapped me five times across the face.  I was angry and responded ‘Brother, why did you hit me?’ and he responded ‘I am a member of TNI. I do what I like.’ He then picked up a heavy rock and threw it at my arm. I then said ‘Yes, you’re right, if brother is part of the army then I don’t want to prepare for war with you.’121

The officer then threw another heavy rock at the victim, knocking him to the ground. The officer then yanked him up again and then threw him back down on the ground before hitting his head with a rock three to four times.

Blood was gushing out of my head. He stood me up and again hit me in the face with the rock. I could not count the times he hit me. My bleeding face made a pool of blood. He then threatened, ‘I will kill you and I will report to Kostrad that I have evidence you go to Wamena to receive information from TPN/OPM and provide it to LSM [NGOs]. So, this day I can kill you here. You will report to Kostrad and they will kill you there and take away your body this afternoon.’122

A friend of the victim arrived at the scene and wanted to take him to the local police station, but he was not confident of his ability to help and so returned to his home. That night at around 8 p.m. the victim was given a letter summoning him to go to the local Koramil. He went that evening, not wanting to risk having an unresolved problem with a member of the military, but left after he was further threatened by the officer that if he disclosed what had occurred he would be killed. The victim continues to live in fear but did report the incident to several human rights organizations in the area.

TNI Beating of Youths in Piramid

Yet another case occurred in Piramid, Asologaima district, in 2005. A group of youths had repaired a road and were collecting a toll from drivers of passing vehicles.  A disgruntled taxi driver reported this to the military checkpoint, Infantry Battalion Kostrad 411. Fourteen armed and uniformed members of Kostrad set out to accost the youths. When Kostrad arrived approximately five youths were collecting the toll. When they saw the Kostrad members approaching they ran. Some of the Kostrad members opened fire but did not hit or succeed in capturing any of the young men. They then turned on two men who happened to be passing by the scene at that moment. They were walking back from buying groceries in town.  One of them told Human Rights Watch:

At the time Kostrad members arrived, the five youths who had been collecting money for the repair of the road had already seen the military and fled towards the jungle. Army members did not catch a single one. I do not know why. I was only going down that road when I saw army members start shooting in the direction of [name withheld], but they did not hit him. When they weren’t successful in arresting those young people, suddenly they had their weapons pointed at us and arrested us. Then Kostrad members immediately started kicking me in the face and assaulting me with their rifle butts. My face began to bleed and I could not see. I had an injury close to my eye which was bleeding. At that time I had community members working in my garden and had taken the chance to go to Piramid to buy salt and cooking oil, and as I was walking on the road to the village. I was arrested by Kostrad. At that time I was with my friend and we were smoking. We were confused as to why Kostrad had turned up and then confronted us with their guns. We could not move at all. We stayed silent because we couldn’t understand what was happening or why we were attacked.123

After being badly beaten, the pair, under tight guard, was forced to march about one kilometer to the Piramid bus terminal. En route they claim they were threatened and beaten. Upon arrival they were forced to board a vehicle which took them to the Kostrad Kimbim headquarters, all the while being beaten. Upon arrival they were ordered to crawl on the ground. They claim they were then stomped on and beaten with a piece of wood. The two were separated and detained under guard in separate cells and interrogated about whether they were members of OPM. One of them explained:  

During these questions they beat my face with their gun butts until it was covered in blood. If I did not answer their question, they quickly beat me…they put cooking oil on my head and set my hair alight with matches. One TNI member took a bite of my right arm, tearing my skin. I do not know his name. Then the soldier drank my blood from this torn piece of flesh. I do not understand the purpose of this. They threatened me with a knife to my neck and a razor blade to my ears, left and right. They said, ‘If you don’t confess we will cut your ears off with this razor blade.’ Then they beat me with a piece of wood on my back until my shoulder was badly injured...they took us both into the yard and submerged us in a pool of water.124

While they were in the yard, the two men attempted to escape. One of them succeeded, but one was recaptured and tortured again.

They beat me, stripped me naked, and tied my hands and feet with raffia cord. Then they ordered me to lie down facing up. The cord tied to my left hand was tired to a piece of wood and that tied to my right tied to another piece of wood…then they assaulted me behind until I bled. A number of Kostrad members burnt my back with a torch of flaming long grass.125

Perhaps responding to an alert from the escaped friend, at around 6 p.m. a police mobile patrol vehicle arrived containing police and the head of the village. The victim, still tied and naked, was thrown by military and police into the vehicle and transported to Wamena police station, where he arrived at around 7:30 p.m. Later that night, due to the absence of any evidence of any wrongdoing, he was released.126

Violence Against Women and Girls and Other Violations of Women’s Rights

While entire communities suffer the consequences of conflict, Papuan women and girls are particularly at risk of certain human rights abuses, including sexual violence. The rationalization for their abuse varies from discrimination, limited mobility, and restricted access to resources, decision making power, and information.127

The risks of living in highly militarized areas are compounded by women’s low status in indigenous culture, and marginality within contemporary political movements, including the nationalist movement. All of these factors affect the ability of women and girls to assert their rights and participate in society as full and equal citizens.  

Rape, sexual slavery, and other sexual violence against women and girls by the Indonesian security forces have previously been documented throughout the Central Highlands, with female victims ranging from 3 to 60 years old.128 This situation is exacerbated by the lack of training for police, judges, and medical personnel in responding to allegations of gender-based violence.129

In 1995, Amnesty International reported, “Non-governmental organisations complain that if a woman who is raped by members of the security forces does feel confident enough to report the incident, little action, if any, is taken against those believed to be responsible.”130 In her 1999 report to the Commission on Human Rights, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women stated:

Before May 1998, rape was used as an instrument of torture and intimidation by certain elements of the Indonesian army in Aceh, Irian Jaya and East Timor. Since May 1998 the policy appears to be different. The Army Commander of East Timor assured us that rape by soldiers will not be tolerated and that perpetrators will be prosecuted. Nevertheless, the rapes continue…torture of women detained by the Indonesian security forces was widespread...A thorough and impartial investigation into the use of rape as a method of torture and intimidation by the military in Irian Jaya is imperative.131

She also concluded that no perpetrators had been brought to trial and no victims had been compensated, stating that “human rights abuses continue to occur even under the new regime.”132  

Violence against women by police and TNI forces is a continuing problem today. Rapes and other forms of gender-based violence have continued to occur during military or police operations and when women or girls are en route to or from  gardens, schools, markets, or wells, or when soldiers’ demands for payment in livestock or in kind cannot be met.

The opportunistic and arbitrariness of these attacks has fuelled an overall atmosphere of insecurity that has restricted women and girls’ freedom of movement as they modify or abstain from daily activities to reduce the risk of rape and other forms of violence. This can in turn reduce their access to livelihoods and basic services such as education and health. Victims are punished not only by the attack itself and subsequent restrictions upon freedom of movement, but also by the ongoing stigma of having being raped and the suspicion that they in fact consented, both of which can restrict future opportunities such as marriage and reduce their value in the eyes of some community members. Survivors of attacks may also have to contend with unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, depression, and other health consequences.

Aside from cases involving allegations against security forces, ordinary law enforcement can be patchy and based on dubious notions of when and how traditional justice should apply. Measures to improve government response to sexual violence implemented in other parts of Indonesia have not yet been comprehensively introduced in Papua, such as improved training for police and judges, and the introduction of one-stop crisis centers and hotlines. Indonesia has introduced Special Service Units (RPK) at police precincts that help deal with sexual violence cases. However, according to Government records there is only one of these for both Papua and West Papua.133

As detailed below, women and girls may be forced to provide sex to members of the security forces upon demand. Refusal to comply can bring about fatal consequences. Security forces in some cases have alleged that women and girls have connections with the OPM and perpetrate acts of sexual violence against them as retaliation and intimidation. Perpetrators have also threatened rape survivors and their families with reprisals if they try to report the assault, and commit further acts of violence, as in the case of the uncle of a rape victim discussed earlier. The absence of confidential and accessible complaints mechanisms for sexual assault cases, appropriate protocol to collect forensic evidence, and the overall atmosphere of impunity make it almost impossible for victims to seek redress.

TNI Rape of 16-year-old girl

In one clear case of opportunistic rape, a 16-year-old girl who lived far from her school boarded with a female teacher in a village in Jayawijaya district, returning to her own village only on Saturdays. One Saturday in May 2005, on her way home to the village, she was confronted by a member of the TNI from the local barracks. He offered her a packet of instant noodles and then dragged her into the jungle and raped her. The soldier threatened to kill her, her family members, and to tell her teacher (the perpetrator is related to the teacher) that she had consented to sex if she refused or disclosed the perpetrator’s identity. The girl told Human Rights Watch:

Close to the TNI post I met a member of the Indonesian army. He was returning to the barracks after showering. As I was going, he said hello. I wasn’t suspicious. But straight after passing by the mountain, I heard a voice from behind me.  He was wearing his army uniform and carrying a gun. He said, ‘Here, take this packet of Super Mi.’ I was pleased to receive the noodles so I stopped. After that he said, ‘I want to know you better.’ He said, ‘Don’t talk on the road as many people will be coming past on their way to the jungle.’ I became scared because he was big and strong.  I wanted to run but he grabbed my arm. Then he pulled me into the jungle. He wanted me to touch him but I refused. I resisted but he was angry. Then he threatened to assault me. He threatened me with various things, threatened to assault my parents and tell my teacher so that she would expel me from school. I believed him because my teacher is related to him. I wanted to scream but he had his hand over my mouth and then he forced me. I resisted but he still forced me. Then he carried out the act on me. I couldn’t walk. I was in so much pain. 

After that he ordered me that if I told anyone what had happened he would come and kill me. I was very scared. After I left I cried. I felt too ashamed to go to my house or to my teacher’s house. I very slowly went to her place later that night. I couldn’t walk and so the following day my teacher asked me why I couldn’t walk. I was scared so I told her that the day before I had fallen on my way to the village. She demanded that I show her my injury but I didn’t show her. She was suspicious of me and took me to the clinic. I refused but she forced me there. The nurse asked me where I was injured. I told her, my foot. They couldn’t see any injury and so questioned me slowly about what happened. I just cried because I felt so ashamed. When we got back to the house I told my teacher what had happened. She and her husband went to the head of the village to discuss what should be done. But the village chief advised not to make a problem with the military or they would come and assault community members. So there was no process to address the problem. From that time I did not go outside the house. I only stayed inside.134

Rape as retaliation for alleged links to the OPM

Women and girls can also be at heightened risk of sexual or gender-based violence if they are suspected of being members, supporters, or related to members of the OPM. This was the experience of a woman displaced by a sweeping operation by security forces in Puncak Jaya at the end of 2005. She was returning to her refugee camp after collecting vegetables from a garden with a few other women. She told Human Rights Watch:

At around 10 a.m. we left the garden to return to our camp. We met five members of Brimob on the road who immediately stopped us and detained us there for two hours. They all wore uniforms and carried guns.  When they arrested us, they immediately threatened us at gunpoint. They threatened that they would rape us and that if we resisted then, ‘We will shoot you also,’ were their words. We did not answer them but started crying. We do not know the soldiers’ names.  We were asked many times, ‘Where are you from?’ I said that we were coming from the garden. Two of my friends [names withheld] could not speak Indonesian. The soldiers accused us of being wives of OPM members. ‘So you’re looking for food for OPM?’ We did not answer. They demanded that we tell them the location of OPM members but we did not answer because we didn’t know where they were. They said ‘If you do not answer, we will shoot or rape you here.’ In fear, we cried. To try to stop them raping us I opened my shirt and showed them the milk that I had for my child, pleading with them not to rape me because I had a child who still drinks milk and was still small, only 3 years. And I pleaded that they not rape us in view on the road.

They took all of the food we had collected at the garden such as sweet potatoes, red fruits, bananas, and vegetables. Our blouses and skirts were torn and we were left by the soldiers in a state of emptiness [indicating that the rape took place]…afterwards we returned to the refugee camp on the edge of [location withheld]. But after this incident, for four months we did not come looking for food in the garden again until the end of December 2005. We were refugees and never felt safe but always lived in fear.135

68 “Indonesian military reacting brutally in Wunin,” Wurineri District, West Papua News, January 24, 2005.

69 “Alleged murder to be probed,” The Jakarta Post, October 29, 2004.

70 TAPOL Briefing on the current situation in West Papua, TAPOL - The Indonesia Human Rights Campaign, March 14, 2005,; John, King and Peter Wing “Genocide in West Papua? The role of the Indonesian state apparatus and a current needs assessment of the Papuan people,” Report prepared for the West Papua Project at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney; ELSHAM, Lembaga Study dan Advokasi Hak Asasi Manusia, Jayapura, Papua, August 2005, p.19.

71 TAPOL Briefing on the current situation in West Papua, TAPOL - The Indonesian Human Rights Campaign, March 14 2005,

72 “Thousands of Papuans Flee Troops,” Courier Mail, November 27, 2004; Solidarity South Pacific, (accessed June 25, 2007);  “Papuan Protesters Present Plea Calling for Jakarta to End Punjak Jaya Military Action,” Radio New Zealand International, December 17, 2004.

73 Human Rights Watch Interviews (names and locations withheld), 2006.

74 Human Rights Watch interview (name and locations withheld), 2006.

75 Human Rights Watch interview with (name and locations withheld), 2006.

76 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

77 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

78 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

79 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

80 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

81 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

82 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

83 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

84 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

85 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

86 Human Rights Watch interviews (names and locations withheld), 2006.

87 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

88 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

90 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

91 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

92 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

93 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

94 ‘Terdakwa Drs, David A. Hubi Sudah Dipanggil 4 Kali’, Cenderawasih Pos, May 16 2006.

95 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

96 “Komnas HAM Papua Laporkan Tindakan Kekerasan Polisi Jayawijaya,” Republika, June 16, 2006.

97 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

98 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

99 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

100 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

101 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

102 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

103 “Tiga tersangka dan BAP Diserahkan ke Kejaksaan,” Cenderawasih Pos, July 11, 2006.

104 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

105 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

106 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

107 “Terdakwa Drs, David A. Hubi Sudah Dipanggil 4 Kali,” Cenderawasih Pos, May 16, 2006.

108 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

109 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

110 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

111 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

112 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

113 Autopsy Report of Mozes Douw by Dr. Jhon Manangsang, Enaroltali, January 25, 2006.

114 “Enraged Papuans Protest Shooting”, the Jakarta Post, January 24, 2006.

115 “Papua: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions” International Crisis Group Briefing Paper, 53, September 5, 2006, p. 9.

116 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

117 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

118 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

119 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

120 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

121 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

122 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

123 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

124 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

125 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

126 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

127 B. Sorensen “Women and Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Issues and Sources.” WSP Occasional Paper, no.3, June 1998,

128 “Incidents of Military Violence Against Indigenous Women in Irian Jaya (West Papua) Indonesia,” Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Centre for Human Rights and the Institute for Human Rights Studies and Advocacy, May 1999,

129 In November 1998 the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women planned to visit Papua but was denied access by the government, which cited a lack of time. See Radhika Coomaraswamy, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, including its causes and consequences, “Integration of the Human Rights of Women and the Gender Perspective: Violence Against Women,” no.4, December 1998; UN Commission on Human Rights 55th session, E/CN.4/1999/68/Add.3, January 21, 1999,

130 “Women in Indonesia and East Timor: Standing Against Repression” (London, Amnesty International, 1995), p. 15.

131 Radhika Coomaraswamy, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, “Integration of the Human Rights of Women and the Gender Perspective: Violence against women,” no.4, December 1998, UN Commission on Human Rights 55th session, E/CN.4/1999/68/Add.3, January, 21, 1999,

132 Ibid.

133 “The Elimination of Trafficking in Persons in Indonesia,” Co-ordinating Ministry for Peoples Welfare, Government of Indonesia, Criminal Investigation Body of the National Police Headquarter, Jakarta, 2005, (accessed June 4, 2007). 

134 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.

135 Human Rights Watch interview (name and location withheld), 2006.