Indonesian security forces shoot five youths in Yahukimo Regency

September 25, 2023
West Papua funeral
The five West Papuan victims were buried on September 19. Photo supplied

Five Papuan youths, aged between 15 and 18 years old, were found shot dead at the mouth of the Brasa River, in Dekai, capital of the Yahukimo Regency in the highlands of Indonesian-occupied West Papua, on September 15.

They were members of the Kingmi Papua Church. According to the church, the five youths regularly delivered food to the village after buying it in Dekai.

According to, previously, police had claimed that the five victims had been caught in a firefight between security forces and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) in Kali Brasa.

However, reported that Sebby Sambom, spokesperson for the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB), confirmed on September 17 that the five victims were not members of the TPNPB, but “were purely civilians who wanted to return to their villages and were shot and bombed by the Indonesian military”.

According to Pastor Atias Matuan, Chair of the Yahukimo Church Fellowship (PGGY), the five victims were Darnius Heluka, Musa Heluka, Man Senik, Yoman Senik and Kaраі Payage.

Matuan accompanied the victims’ families to the Yahukimo Regional General Hospital, where they collected their bodies and saw "their bodies with gunshot wounds to the stomach, chest and legs".

The pastor also told that TNI officers had a guard post at the Dekai urban boundary and residents who wanted to travel from Dekai were required to report to the security post. "If they don't report … they are considered part of the TPNPB, even though they don't carry war equipment," he said.

They were buried in Dekai on September 19.

Australia-West Papua Association spokesperson Joe Collins said there appears to be a total lack of trust between the security forces and local people in the region.

“While West Papuans are being killed by the security forces, we have Australia and Indonesia sitting down at the ninth bilateral consultation to discuss bolstering anti-terror cooperation.”

Antara News reported that Indonesia and Australia also committed at the bilateral meeting to continuing cooperation, through dialogue at bilateral, regional, and multilateral forums, as well as technical cooperation.

Collins said it is time that Australia’s departments of defence, foreign affairs and trade start “to seriously look at their ties with the Indonesian security forces and the affect their aid and training has on the situation in West Papua”.

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