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Indonesian Soldiers Arrested for Killing 4 Papuans

Broader Inquiry Into Abuses, UN Monitors Needed

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Indonesian Soldiers Arrested for Killing 4 Papuans

Authorities this week arrested six Indonesian soldiers on suspicion of killing and dismembering four indigenous Papuans in Indonesia’s West Papua province.

The bodies of the four men were found on August 26 by local residents in the village of Iwaka, outside the town of Timika, in bags that were running down the Pigap River.

The victims were identified as local village chiefs Irian Nirigi, Arnold Lokbere, Atis Tini, and Kelemanus Nirigi. Why the men kill others is not clear. Authorities claimed they were insurgents and were allegedly on their way to meet someone in Timika to buy weapons.

The man’s family denied this, saying they took money from the village to buy agricultural equipment. Clearly, the money these people were carrying was gone.

The killings came as tensions escalated between Papua’s indigenous people and Indonesian security forces as violence became more frequent and deadly.

Last month, unidentified people shot and killed nine non-Papuan civilians in Nduga, where the Indonesian government maintains a large military presence.

The violence follows a series of anti-racism protests using the hashtag #PapuanLivesMatter, in part in response to President Joko Widodo’s controversial move to divide Papua and West Papua into four separate provinces.

Activists fear the plan will lead to further militarization of the region, with critics calling it a “divide and conquer” Papuan tactic.

The government of President Joko Widodo, who celebrated the release of Papuan political prisoners in 2015, is responsible for systematic discrimination against Papuans.

He was in Timica this week, in part to visit the Freeport project and the surrounding area, home to the world’s largest gold mine.

It is important that authorities fairly and properly prosecute captured soldiers and anyone else involved in the killing.

But the Indonesian government needs to address Papua’s deteriorating human rights situation, conduct an independent and impartial investigation into the wider involvement of security forces in atrocities against indigenous Papuans, and fulfill its commitment to invite the United Nations human rights monitor to the country. area.

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