Indonesian security forces execute students in West Papuan highlands

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The armed conflict in West Papua’s central highlands continues to deteriorate, costing the lives of innocent civilians.

The latest extrajudicial killing was reported from the Papuan regency of Puncak. According to the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Desk of the Papuan Tabernacle Church (JPIC Kingmi Papua) and the Papuan Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy (ELSHAM Papua), two students were on their way from the town of Ilaga to their home village in the district of Agundugume on November 20.

When they reached the Limbaga Mountain in the Gome District, they were intercepted by a group of fully-armed security force members who reportedly tried to execute them. Seventeen-year-old Manus Murib sustained three bullet wounds as he escaped, while his friend, Atanius Murib (17 years), was killed on the spot.

Manus and Atanius left Ilaga early in the morning around 3am for the 11-hour walk. Around 10.30am, they ascended Limbaga Mountain when the security forces approached them. The soldiers were wearing balaclavas, black combat suits and bullet-proof vests. Manus identified the combatants as Indonesian security force members.

One of the soldiers asked the boys: “Where did you come from and where are you heading?” The boys said they were coming from Ilaga and were on the way to their village in the Agundugume District, where they wanted to stay over Christmas.

According to Manus, one security force member handed a pistol to the boys and told them to hold the gun while another took a photo. Feeling uncomfortable about the situation, Manus and Atanius tried to escape. They feared the security force members planned to kill them and use the photos to incriminate them as members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB).

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Atanius Murib was allegedly executed by Indonesian security forces. Photo: JPIC Kingmi Papua

Atanius was hit by a bullet and died instantly. Manus sustained three bullet wounds to his right ear, neck and armpit. After hiding in the forest, he continued walking to his village. He was evacuated to the General Hospital in Timika the following day, where doctors reportedly removed two bullets.

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Manus Murib in hospital following the attack. Photo: JPIC Kingmi Papua

Kogabwilhan III military commander, Colonel Suriastawa, claimed the shooting was carried out by members of armed criminal groups (Kelompok Kriminal Bersenjata or KKB), an expression used by security force members for TPN PB fighters. He told media outlet Jubi that the attack was carried out by the TPN PB “to create a bad image of the Indonesian government in the international community”. Papuan police chief Paulus Waterpauw said “unknown perpetrators” were responsible for the attack.

Relatives confirmed that Manus was a high school student and not associated with the TPN PB. Atanius’ relatives demanded the Indonesian military return his body to their village for burial.

[Abridged from humanrightspapua.org]

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