Indonesian troops accused of killing and maiming 4 Papuans – The Diplomat
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Six elite soldiers were arrested and accused of having participated in the murder of four indigenous Papuans.
Indonesian security forces announced on Monday that they had arrested six elite soldiers accused of participating in the murder of four indigenous Papuans and the mutilation of their bodies.
“We are committed to upholding the law in this matter,” Papua’s military chief, Major General Teguh Muji Angkasa, told reporters in Jayapura, the capital of the restive Papua province. “If any of our soldiers are involved in criminal acts, we will not tolerate it.”
Residents of Iwaka village in Mimika district were shocked on Friday when four bags, each containing a headless and legless torso, were found in the village’s river. Two other bags were found separately, one containing four heads and the other eight legs.
Police determined that the victims were residents of nearby Nduga district who allegedly drove a rental van to meet someone who had offered to sell an AK-47 rifle and firearm for 250 million rupees (16,800 $). Police said the men’s mutilated bodies were placed in sacks filled with rocks and thrown into the river.
Conflicts between indigenous Papuans and Indonesian security forces are common in the impoverished region of Papua, a former Dutch colony in the western part of New Guinea that is ethnically and culturally distinct from much of Indonesia. Papua was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after a UN-sponsored ballot that was widely seen as a sham. Since then, a low-level insurgency has simmered in the mineral-rich region, which is divided into two provinces, Papua and West Papua.
Papua’s military spokesman, Lt. Col. Herman Taryaman, said the victims were believed to have been sympathizers with an armed separatist group.
“The victims were actively looking for weapons and ammunition in Mimika,” Taryaman said.
Papua Police spokesman Ahmad Musthofa Kamal said the perpetrators also torched the men’s van and took the money to buy the weapons. Police arrested three civilians over the weekend for their alleged involvement in the killing, which led to the arrest of all six soldiers by military police, Kamal said.
Sebby Sambom, spokesman for the West Papua Liberation Army, the armed wing of the pro-independence Organization for Free Papua, urged Indonesian President Joko Widodo to try the perpetrators in open court and ” punish them with the death penalty”.
“This is a crime against humanity committed by the Indonesian government through its security forces,” Sambom said in a statement, adding that his group is ready to carry out “retaliatory operations” if the government ignores their request.
Conflict in the region has escalated over the past year, killing dozens of rebels, security forces and civilians.
In July, gunmen suspected of being separatist rebels killed 10 traders from other Indonesian islands and an indigenous Papuan. Sambom later claimed responsibility for the murder, accusing the victims of being spies for the Indonesian government.
In March, armed rebels killed eight technicians who were repairing an isolated telecommunications tower. In December 2018, at least 31 construction workers and a soldier were killed in one of the worst attacks in the province.