The truth about NDUGA Conflict in West Papua

By: Adi H

The truth about NDUGA, WEST PAPUA – Please read for activism purposes and contact us if you want a copy of the academic papers used in this post.

As recently as 2018 – present day, the people in Nduga, West Papua once again faced the full brunt of Indonesian counterinsurgency operations.

Nduga is not new to these kinds of operations.

FIRST DOCUMENTED CONTACT: “Since the 1960s, Nduga has been marked by the state as a military zone. The first Nduga community interaction with the state occurred when the TNI (Indonesian security forces) launched its operation to secure the result of the Act of Free Choice in 1969 in the central highlands of West Papua” (Wangge & Webb-Gannon 2020).

SECOND DOCUMENTED CONTACT: “In 1996, In the Mapenduma case (In Nduga), TPN commander Kelly Kwalik reached agreement with church leaders to release hostages, including foreigners, which were being held by his group. The people came together to witness a traditional ceremony on the day of the release. People, especially children, gathered excitedly to welcome the Red Cross helicopter that they thought would be bringing an official to receive the hostages. But there was no official, instead the military arrived with machine guns blazing, mowing down unsuspecting women and children. The incident was documented in a 1999 ABC Four Corners report, “Blood on the Cross”” (Rumakiek 2019).

Link to documentary here:

THIRD DOCUMENTED CONTACT: In 2018, the same kind of military crackdown occured again as revealed by survivors and witnesses (see below). The indonesians launched a counterinsurgency operation of about 1000 personnels to comb Nduga and flush the resistance out. The attack was in response to the killing of 16 men who the resistance (TPNPB) have stated were actually members of the TNI (the invaders) posing as construction workers “It is well-known that the TNI (Indonesian National Armed Forces) has long been involved in businesses in West Papua. This is part of their strategy to monitor and defeat the OPM (West Papua Independence Movement). Dressing as civilians is part of their concealed strategy to secure success” (Rumakiek 2019).

Quick Back Story:
📍The people of Nduga opposed “the decision by Indonesian President Joko Widodo to grant a permit to a TNI contractor to build the Trans Papua Highway. The highway will run through Nduga District — a stronghold of the TPN (West Papuan Liberation Army)” (Rumakiek 2019).
📍The construction went ahead anyway and tensions have been high since.
📍In late November 2018, The West Papuans wrote to the workers telling them to seize work on Dec 1 and not disturb any celebrations of West Papuan flag raising
📍The workers did not listen and instead took videos of the ceremony and refused to delete or hand it over when asked to do so:
“In mid-November 2018, the TPN-PB operating in Nduga sent a letter to Joni Arum, the co-ordinator of the construction workers in the area working for PT Istaka Karya (a Jakarta-based engineering firm). The letter demanded the workers cease all construction activities in Nduga before 1 December 2018, the day on which West Papuans celebrate their hoped-for independence each year by raising the Morning Star flag. Arum, however, did not respond to the letter and the workers
remained in the area. To add insult to injury (from the TPN-PB’s perspective), Arum, accompanied by twenty-four of his workers, attended the independence ceremony (held in the Yigi district of Nduga) uninvited, and allegedly took photographs. This was viewed by local participants as offensive. In response, the TPN-PB, led by local commander Egianus Kogeya, captured the twenty-four workers (Arum was not with them—he had already departed the area by
this time). Having seized the workers’ phones, Kogeya came across a number of text messages shared between Arum and the TNI regional commander in nearby Wamena. This raised suspicions among the TPN-PB that Arum and some of his workers were collaborating with the TNI. As a result, on 2 December, Kogeya and his followers killed sixteen of the men they had captured” (Wangge & Webb-Gannon 2020).

As a result of the Indonesian attack, The people fled. Nobody wanted to cooperate with Indonesia and some even joined the resistance. Others took it to the extremes and did not want to accept any handouts (food etc) from Indonesia or send their kids to state schools (Wangge & Webb-Gannon 2020).

These are all brave ways in which the West Papuan people – alone and forgotten by the world – continue to resist the brutality of Indonesian rule.

What can you do to help? We do not want your money. We want your privildge as an Australian citizen to lobby the government with us – when the time comes. Go on to the poinned post on our page and sign up. Together we can make this injustice stop.

#FreeWestPapua

#MapendumaBerdarah

#NdugaConflict

source: Free Papua Movement Australia

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