Home News Villagers held hostage by heavily armed West Papua separatist group

Villagers held hostage by heavily armed West Papua separatist group

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Armed gang linked with West Papua separatist group are holding 1,300 West Papuan villagers hostage near a Freeport gold mine in Mimika, Papua. 

The group forced residents of Kimbely and Banti villages in Mimika District, Papua to stay in their villages and threatened with physical abuse if they dare venture outside. 

On Thursday (9/11) the Papua Chief of Police, Inspector General Boy Rafli Amar revealed:

“There are about 1,300 people who are being held against their will in Kimbely and Banti villages. One thousands are believed to be locals while 300 are daily commuters who work in the local gold mine and market.”

The Papua Police Chief added that the armed group took away all the belongings of the villagers.

Security authorities lead by Papua Police are reported to be taking a persuasive and preventative approach to end the hostage situation.

This is not the first time that separatist group in Papua has used terror tactic to intimidate the local population, draw attention and steal needed supplies.

Last Sunday (5/11), The Jakarta Post reported that armed assailants set fire to five kiosks owned by West Papuan loacals.

“Five kiosks owned by local people in Kampung Utikini were set ablaze by an armed group at 2 a.m. on Sunday,” Mimika Police chief Adj. Sr. Cmr. Victor D Mackbon told journalists on Sunday.

No casualties were reported in this latest incident.

This latest attack comes after a kidnapping and raping of a West Papuan woman on 30 October 2017.

As reported by the Associated Press and the Seattle Times, two weeks ago, armed West Papua separatist group killed Berry Pratama a police sergeant in Sangket, Papua.

In the attack, Joe Hatch, an American worker for Freeport suffered a gunshot wound.

Sources reveal that Benny Wenda, the leader of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) was behind the unprovoked and barbarous attacks. 

Over the years, the ULMWP together with armed separatist group in West Papua have waged a brutal campaign against West Papuan civilians, government and security officers.

The ULMWP is led by Benny Wenda, a fugitive wanted in connection to the murder of West Papuans Petrus Epaa and Markus Padama in Papua in December 2000. Octovianus Mote is the Secretary-General and fund-raiser of the group.

The ULMWP, which claims as the rightful government of West Papua, routinely direct its armed wing in West Papua including the West Papua National Liberation Army (WPNLA) and the Purom Okinam Wenda Group to kill and terrorize the residents of West Papua. This is a strategy to stoke fear and coerce support from the West Papuan people.

West Papua and Papua are two easternmost provinces of Indonesia that enjoy robust and functioning democracies that routinely elect West Papuan into top government and legislative posts. More than 2.7 million Papua and West Papua residents were eligible to vote in the Presidential election in 2014.

Some selected acts of murders widely attributed to the ULMWP (or its affiliated groups) and its armed group includes:

  • 6 civilians and police officers killed in Wasior, June 2001;
  • 3 police officers killed in Lanny Jaya, November 2012;
  • 1 health worker killed in Puncak Jaya, July 2013;
  • 2 police officers killed in Lanny Jaya, July 2014;
  • 1 priest killed in Namuniweja Village, November 2015;
  • 4 road workers killed in Sinak & Mulia, March 2016;
  • 2 teacher and road worker killed in Puncak Jaya, August-September 2016

In December 1996, the Papuan separatist group abducted 26 person in Mapenduma. Fifteen were released, but 11 researchers from the multi-national Lorentz 95 Expedition were held captive. The hostages, four Britons, five Indonesians and two Dutch were held hostage for four months from 8 January to 15 May 1996.

The ICRC reported:

Among the hostages was Martha Klein, who was three months pregnant when she was captured.

In a daring and surprising raid, Indonesian special forces freed the hostage. Two Indonesians were killed during the operation: Matheis Lasembu, an ornithologist and Navy Panekenan, a biologist. Five Army officers were killed when their helicopted crashed in jungle of Geselama, Papua.

The two hostages bled to death after being struck with machetes by Kelly Kwalik, the leader of the hostage-takers and a close confidant of Benny Wenda.

Kelly Kwalik, was killed in 2009 in a gunfight with security authorities.

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