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Previous ‘security sweeps’ terrorized people, caused deaths

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 15, 2011) – The Papua region’s largest indigenous church has voiced concern at the surge of activity in the Paniai Regency by Indonesia’s paramilitary police.

In recent weeks, hundreds of extra officers have been deployed to the area in what Indonesian officials have indicated is a hunt for members of the OPM Free West Papua Movement.

The chairman of the Synod of the KINGMI Evangelical Church, Dr. Benny Giay, says the current military sweep operation through Paniai villages has terrorized local Papuans, many of whom have fled to the bush.

"They say they have to wipe them out, to attack the area because the area is occupied by the separatists, according to the Indonesian security officials."

Dr. Benny Giay says that in Paniai regency around thirty Papuans died in August from starvation after fleeing to the bush following the last big security forces sweep.

[PIR editor’s note: The independent West Papua Media blog recently reported from Jayapura that Baptist church leader Socratez Yoman asked both Indonesian police and armed forces to immediately leave West Papua. Another report from the site alleges that four combat battalions, paramilitary police and counter-terrorism troops were deployed in Paniai near a Papuan liberation army headquarters building. 18 people are said to have been killed in the attacks, and around 100 structures have been razed to the ground. In 2006, at least four indigenous Papuans were killed by Indonesian troops in Paniai, according to watchdog groups. An agency of the United Nations went to the world court in Denmark to seek an official probe into the Paniai killings and asked for unrestricted access to West Papua for human rights monitors.]]

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