Home News West Papua separatist group hold 1,300 villagers hostage, deny food for villagers

West Papua separatist group hold 1,300 villagers hostage, deny food for villagers

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After holding 1,300 West Papuan villagers hostage near a Freeport gold mine in Mimika, Papua, a group of armed individuals linked with West Papua separatist forcibly shut a main supply route to the mine last Sunday (12/11).

It was reported by Reuters that Freeport was forced to temporarily shut down the route after vehicles and staff were fired on by an armed group. 

Government authorities has started delivering food, water and other basic necessities to the villages. The delivery of food was delayed by the armed group which has blocked access to the villages and detained thousands of villagers against their will.

Indonesian online newspaper Kompas reported that the group has 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 thousand people 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.

Papua Police Chief, Boy Rafli Amar (Photo courtesy of Kupas Merdeka)

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.

Five shops were set ablaze only about 100 meters from a Police dormitory in West Papua (photo courtesy of Papua Police)

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. 

Sources reveal that Benny Wenda and the ULMWP command armed separatist group in West Papua

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 Purom Okinam Wenda Group (top left). The remains of Police officer Rolfi Takubessy (above right), police station burnt by the Group (above left) and the remains of West Papuan police officer (top right)

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. 

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.
A West Papuan separatist group during a force and weapons parade

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.
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 Mapenduma hostages, Papua, 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, died in 2009 in a gunfight with security authorities.
Benny Wenda (left) and Kelly Kwalik (right)

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