By: TW Deora
“Human kind tragedy” had happened in several places such as Homhom, Wouma, Pisugi, Baliem River and Tulem in Wamena region in Papua province on Sept. 23, a tragedy which given the sign of separatist crooks maneuver especially in Papua. According to statements from the government, at least 33 were killed in the violence, eight of them native Papuans. An armed rebel group – referred to as an “armed criminal group” by the police – was reportedly behind the atrocity. Thousands of people, both native Papuans and non-native residents, fled the town following the riot. The police said the non-native Papuans had died in fire while some had sustained injuries from sharp weapons. The official statement said nothing about what had caused the death of the native Papuans.
Cendrawasih Military Command spokesperson Lt. Col. Eko Daryanto echoed the police’s statement said more than eight native Papuans died that day and that they died of gunshot wounds allegedly inflicted by what locals call “security apparatus”, a joint force of Indonesian Military and National Police personnel. The National Police said there had been an exchange of fire between security officers and an “armed criminal group” that day.
Wamena’s mass brawl and riot had been happened since on Sept, 23 a crowd numbering in the hundreds and a number of people in the crowd wore high school uniforms in front of Yudha Supermarket in Hom-Hom in Wamena. The protest turned violent after a young man, later identified as Kelion Tabuni, a sophomore at the Manado State University in North Sulawesi, was allegedly shot in Hom-Hom. The mob stole fuel and burned down houses and stores on Jl. Pikhe. Witnesses said local residents had warned the people in the houses and stores, mostly non-native Papuans, to flee to save themselves from being burned alive. Pikhe became a place of heroic tales in which native Papuans helped hundreds of non-native residents.
While some men carried away Kelion’s body and others set stores and houses on fire on Jl. Pikhe, some of the crowd headed for a campus in the Hom-Hom area, STISIP Amal Ilmiah Yapis, and set classrooms on fire. They also burned other properties on Jl. Hom-Hom and some non-native Papuans died after become trapped inside burning buildings.
According to Jayawijaya Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Tonny Ananda said the student rally had been infiltrated by an armed group that led to “crossfire” between the armed group and the security forces.
However, pointed fingers at the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), a self-determination activist group that has close affiliations to the proindependence movement. Tonny said people from the KNPB had spread a “hoax” about a racial statement from a teacher. He said most of the perpetrators of the riot came from outside Wamena district. The police, he said, had been investigating “the groups”.
At the same time about 4 kilometers from Yudha Supermarket in Hom-Hom, students of PGRI high school on Jl. Bhayangkara in Wamena gathered at about 8 a.m. to protest against one of their teachers, Riris Theodora Panggabean. The students accused Riris of calling fellow student Anton Pahabol a “monkey” on Sept 18. Michael Asso, a physical education teacher at PGRI, said the teachers had held a meeting on Sept. 21 to question Riris, but Riris denied she had made a racial statement on Sept. 18. Debora Agapa, the deputy principal for student affairs, said nothing had happened at the school from Sept. 19 to 20. On Sept. 21, however, students had damaged some school property. SMK Yapis vocational high school — located next to the Jayawijaya regent’s office ¬¬— a crowd, some wearing high school uniforms, others not, threw stones at the school.
Another school, SMA 1 state senior high school in Wamena, was attacked. Three teachers, all native Papuans, told about 900 students were attending class to sit a test. Sometime after 8 a.m., hundreds of students from outside “swarmed like bees” and called on the students in the classroom to rally with them. They also threw stones at the windows, hurting some of the students.
On Monday morning, police officers arrived to meet the students at the high school, a teacher said. The officers tried to calm down the students, who were angry because they could not speak with Riris, and the police asked them to settle the matter at the Jayawijaya Police station. So they walked to the police station, and along the way they called on other students to join them, some by force. While the students walked to the regent’s office, shops in Pikhe and Yapis campus in Hom-Hom had already been set on fire by the other crowd. Fires were reported in many places, including at Potikelek, located south of Jl. Hom-Hom. Security personnel fired tear gas in Potikelek.
Riot had always been happened in Wouma when some of the crowd headed toward the airport to set it on fire, but the security forces intercepted them with tear gas. Another crowd began to gather on the fringe of town; they were people from kampungs who had heard rumors that their children who went to school in the city center had been shot by security forces and arrested by the police.
The shots made the crowd even angrier and they set alight stores and kiosks in Wouma. Witnesses said more victims were killed here, because the mob did not bother to check whether there were people inside the buildings. Some non-native Papuans were also reportedly stabbed by members of the mob. Data show that at least 42 died because of the riot. Thousands of people, native and non-natives Papuans, fled Wamena, some flew out of the island and went back to their hometowns in places like West Sumatra and South Sulawesi.
Naligi Wenda, Keitron Kogoya, Eles Himan, Yus Asso, Mison Lokbere, Marius Wenda, Manu Meage, Elakim Wetapo, Gestanus Hisage, Kelion Tabuni and Lawan Hesegem did not survive. Six names from the Papua Customary Council and named locally, not yet verified such as Nisaba Himan (shot and later found in Pisugi), Inius Tabuni (shot and later found in Baliem River), Beam Wenda (shot and later found in Tulem), Naligin Yikwa (shot in Homhom), Wenas Babingga (shot in Homhom) and Yandrik Wenda (shot in Wouma).
Papua Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. AM Kamal said on Oct. 7 that the police had named 13 people suspects in the Wamena riot. Three are still at large, those detained have been identified only as DM, 19, RW, 18, AU, 16, RA, 16, AK, 19, DC 32, YP, 22, ES, 27, NT, 27, and SK, 40. (https://www.thejakartapost.com/longform/2019/11/26/wamena-investigation-what-the-government-is-not-telling-us.html)
Separatist Crooks Maneuvre
However, being admit or not, several riots in Wamena had been shown the sign of separatist and their followers crooks maneuver. Those riots has always been showing that whatever problems in Papua especially where it is happened in Papua’s mountain regions such as Wamena, Central Mountain regions, Jayawijaya etc could be capitalized by separatist crooks who have been collaborating with “several foreign stooge” which operating in Papua.
I think actually Wamena’s riots which ubiquity in several places had been anticipated if law enforcement process in Papua has firmly and strictly done, but we must make statement that regarding Wamena’s riots and attacking Papua’s compound students in Surabaya and Malang, East Java which done by unresponded crowd were triggered as the impact of law enforcement process did not directly do after the case happened.
Indonesian people must be believe in security apparatus especially Police’s statement related to those facts if the actors which want to make simultaneously riots in Papua are West Papua National Committee (KNPB) one of political wings of Freedom Papua Movement (OPM). They are always trying make “color revolutions” in Papua, because they are actually foreign stooge.***
The writer is Papua’s problem observer.