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Clarification on Case of Toddlers’ Death, Health Office Chief Never on the Scene, says the Nduga Regent

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Wamena, Jubi – Nduga Regent Yairus Gwijangge said 29 children have died of suspected respiratory infections in Mbua sub-district, not 40 as widely reported by the media recently.

Nduga Regent Yairus Gwijangge - Jubi

Nduga Regent Yairus Gwijangge – Jubi

Gwijangge also said the children did not die at nearly the same time and that the Nduga Health Office chief who first revealed the deaths had not been in the area. Gwijangge said he and Jawijaya Police chief visited Mbua to see for themselves the situation on Wednesday (25/11).

“I always monitor through SSB, never heard about the report on the deaths. I have just heard this problem yesterday; even I’ve heard it from the Indonesian Police headquarters instead of my local staffers,” Gwijangge told in the interview held at Jayawijaya Police Headquarters when preparing to go to Mbua Sub-district.

He said he called the local health team and sought clarification about the matter. “I was told fewer than 40 people died. Toddlers indeed died, but the number is about 29,” he said.

Nduga Health Office said 32 children had died in the area within one month, but the regent said the initial number had not been verified.

“The report should be done after monitoring to the field. As the one who’s appointed, the Health Office Chief must go to the ground before disseminating this information. Related to this fact, I could tell he hasn’t come to the scene yet. They are currently attending the provincial working meeting, then the issue merely arose in the province, then grew and shocked us,” he said.

Related to the cause of death, the health team, according to the regent, also came to the scene and took several blood samples but the results came back negative. Thus, he suggested examining whether the local people have violated local customs.

“That’s why I suggested in addition to tackling this case through the health care system, we seek a solution through the custom point of view whether violations have happened leading to the death,” said the regent.

He also said there is a time span between each death occasion.

“It wasn’t two or three children died once in the time, there’s a time span. One died in this week, then another in the next week, and so on,” he explained.

Regarding to lack of definitive information about the number of victims, the regent expected the external parties do not urge the local government, since the local government is planning to run a field visit. Meanwhile the health care team of P2PL, Amat Lokbere confirmed about the toddlers’ death occurred at Mbua Sub-district, Nduga Regency. It started to happen since 20 October 2015.

Children in highland of West Papua - Jubi

Children in highland of West Papua – Jubi

“The toddlers’ death in Mbua is true. The initial symptom was occurred on 13 October when there was a sudden dead chicken, then continue to the pigs. And the toddlers followed to die on 20 October 2015. It was occurred in two days in one place or one was dead in one church. We have sought the cause. The symptoms are including fever, high heat temperature, turn cold briefly and then died,” Lokbere said.

He added at that time the Barefoot Task Force team from province and Puskesmas staffs came to the field and conducted examination but the result was negative.

“We took the test result to Wamena laboratory. Both field examination and laboratory test were negative. The temporary cause of death is currently determined as the acute infectious respiratory,” said Amat Lokbere.

“Based on our data in Mbua Sub-district, there are 29 cases of children and 3 adults, so the total is 32,” said Lokbere.

To check the information related to the death occurred in Mbua Sub-district, Nduga Regional Government along with Jayawijaya Police go to the field on Wednesday (25/11/2015).

“Concerning to this case, I will lead a team to the scene today, along with regional health care team. We will report our investigation to all stakeholders, especially to Papua Police as the coordinator,” said Jayawijaya Police Shemi Ronny Thaba.

Nduga Health Office Chief Mesak Kogoya who’s earlier told the information about the case of toddlers’ death in Mbua, until 21:00 Papua time, Jubi could not contact him for confirmation on the regent’s accusing. (Wesai H/rom)

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Thousands of people take refuge to the forest, says the Church authority

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Jayapura, Jubi – Thousands of residents of Mbua, Yall and Yigi sub-districts reportedly sought refuge in the forest following the raid conducted by the joint police and military forces towards the West Papua Liberation Army that claimed to be responsible for the shooting incidents of the workers of PT. Istaka Karya on 2 December 2018.

The residents are mostly the congregation of the Kingmi Papua Church. “We received reports from Yigi and Yall informed that about five presbyteries have taken refuge to the forest since the evacuation of shooting victims conducted,” the Rev. Dr Benny Giay told Jubi on Sunday (9/12/2018).

Further, he described that the five presbyteries are including Yigi Barat presbytery of six congregations, Yigi presbytery of six congregations, Mbua presbytery of six congregations and Mbulmuyalma of eight congregations. Meanwhile, for Mugi presbytery, he doesn’t have detailed information yet about how many groups that fled to the forest.

“Each congregation is on average consisting of 30-50 heads of families. So, it estimated that the total of refugees is 780 householders. If each family consists of two family members, it means there are more than 1,500 refugees,” explained the Rev. Giay. The Kingmi Church, further said Father Giay, is Christian’s denomination that dominant in Nduga. They have approximately 60,000 followers in Nduga.

Moreover, he added that in the previous military raid between June and July 2018, there were fifty families in Alguru village where suspected the hiding place of the insurgent group had a refuge to the forest. Then, there were 150 people went to Timika, whereas 116 people exited Nduga to Agats, Asmat Regency regarding the incident occurred in Nduga within the last eight days.

Meanwhile, the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (MPH-PGI) expressed their profound condolences and deplored the use of violent-approach either by civilians, insurgents or state apparatus in solving the problems in Papua.

“The violence, in any form, in our opinion, would never solve a problem, but create new scars and wounds which in turn will create another circle of violence,” wrote the Rev. Dr Henriette T.H. Lebang, the Chairperson of PGI in their pastoral message regarding the incident in Nduga.

Furthermore, PGI calls on all parties to stop all forms of violence and sit together to solve the existed problems with humanity and dignity. “Only through this way we can liberate Papua from its entangled problems,” she continued. (*)

Reporter: Victor Mambor

Editor: Pipit Maizier 

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Four residents reportedly died, others run to forest following the evacuation of shooting victims in Nduga

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“Two died in Mbua, while two killed in Yigi. They are all my closed relatives. The military shot them while doing the evacuation. One of them is my uncle. He was a church board member named Yulianus Tabuni,” a Papuan youth figure Samuel Tabuni told Jubi by phone on Sunday morning.

He said that people on Mbua, Yall and Yigi sub-districts are currently moving to the forest. Therefore, he thinks this will possibly increase the number of dead victims due to lack of food and health problem during the refuge.

Further, he said he got the information about the death of four civilians in Mbua and Yigi from his family. So, he believes that it’s true. However, he cannot ensure other victims.

He also added that his family told him that the security forces had forced some priests to become their guide in the military operation against the West Papua Liberation Army that claimed behind the attack against the workers of PT. Istaka Karya. He also cannot confirm the recent rumours of military airstrikes.

“Both information and transportation accesses to Nduga are difficult now. So we cannot verify each information we received,” said Tabuni.

Meanwhile, as quoted by republika.co.id, the Public Affairs Chief of Cenderawasih XVII Military Command Colonel Infantry Muhammad Aidi asserted that the military did not use bombs and do airstrikes from plane or helicopter in chasing the insurgents in Nduga, Papua. The Indonesian Military, he further said, know and understand about the applied rule and procedure.

“No airstrikes occurred in this operation. It only involves the human resources, the soldiers who do the evacuation. No bombing,” said Aidi on Friday (7/12/2018).

By contrast, the Head of Nirkuri Sub-district Yosekat K. Kamarigi told VOA Indonesia that the shootings were targeted the residents’ shelters in the forest. The recent data affirmed that there are at least four people injured and two died because of the gunfire. The two dead victims were the civil servants from Wuridlak village and Kujondume village.

“We announced through radio asking the residents to meet in one location or to gather in the church’s yard. But they were scared because the police and soldiers shot their gun arbitrary.  So, I asked them to save the photographs, videos and so on for evidence, and they said they already kept some of it,” added Yosekat, quoted by VOA Indonesia.

A church board member confirmed dead

Separately, when confirmed by Jubi on Sunday (9/12/2018), the Rev. Dr Benny Giay confirmed that the death of a member of Kingmi Church Board named Yulianus Tabuni.

“That’s right. Yulianus Tabuni is a church board member in Mbua, has no relation with the armed group. He used to take care of the church’s collection,” the Rev. Giay told Jubi on Sunday (9/12/2018).

Moreover, according to the Rev. Giay, a member of the congregation of Kingmi Church reported that he was shot in the church by the security force while evacuation of the shooting victims in Nduga. However, the reason behind his shooting was still unclear.

Kingmi Church has approximately 60 thousand followers in Nduga

The residents of Nduga Regency is the majority members of Kingmi Church. Therefore, the Rev. Benny Giay asked President Joko Widodo to pay attention to the progress of the military operation conducted by the Indonesian Police and Military after the president’s order to chase the armed group.

“It’s near Christmas. Our followers want to have Christmas in quiet and peaceful. We also need to visit Nduga, because the majority of Nduga residents are the followers of Kingmi, but now we can’t. We only get a report from residents and the church board in Mbua, Yall and Yigi,” said the Rev. Giay.

He also hopes that the access to Nduga to be opened for independent parties for further investigation regarding the shooting incidents as well as the post-Nduga incident. (*)

Reporter: Victor Mambor

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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West Papua National Liberation Army: It’s an attack, not execution

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West Papua Liberation Army led by Egianus Kogoya – IST

Jayapura, Jubi – West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) finally spoke up regarding the murder accusation over them. They admitted being responsible for the shooting of people identified as the employees of PT. Istaka Karya that are building the Trans-Papua road.

“We are responsible for that. There was gunfire, and it’s an attack, not execution as stated by the Indonesian security forces,” the spokesperson of TPNPB Sebby Sambom told Jubi by phone on Wednesday (5/12/2018) denying the statement released by the Indonesian Army.
Earlier, the Chief of Cenderawasih Military Public Affairs Colonel Muhamad Aidi that the employees of PT. Istaka Karya executed in a location identified as Puncak Kabo.
Meanwhile, the West Papua National Liberation Army Commander for Region III Ndugama Egianus Kogoya continued Sambom, gave an order to his man Pemne Kogoya to attack several people in the Aworak River, Yigi River and Military Post at Mbua Sub-district.
Furthermore, he said the liberation army had been observing those who worked nearby both rivers. “They are soldiers, Indonesia Army Corps of Engineers, not civilians,” continued Sambon who’s in Papua New Guinea during the telephone.
In 2016, the Indonesian Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing contracted the Army Engineer as a working partner to build the Trans Papua Road. This agreement then followed by the decree issued by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono through Presidential Decree No.40 of 2013 which became a reference for military involvement in the construction of the Trans-Papua Road which earlier named Accelerating Development Road of Papua and West Papua (P4B).
The Army engineers deployed a total of 394 personnel that consist of Detachment-10 and Detachment-12 to work on the roads along Wamena-Habema and Habema-Mbua. Meanwhile, Battalion-18 build the roads along Mbua-Mugi and Mugi-Paro, and Battalion-14 build the roads along Paro-Kenyam and Kenyam-Mamugu. Each group has 107 personnel.
Under observation of Liberation Army
For approximately three months, the West Papua National Liberation Army has observed the workers of bridges construction at both Aworak and Yigi rivers and Mbua Military Post to examine their movement.
“Those who work along the Aworak River, Yigi River are purely soldiers of Engineers Detachment. The liberation army also knew that those who work on the trans-road and bridges construction project along the roads of Habema, Juguru, Kenyam until Batas Batu are military,” said Sambom.
Furthermore, according to him, even though these men dressed in civilian clothes or not wearing the uniform, they are still military. He also said that the liberation army is not a group of criminal as often called by the Indonesian Security Force. The West Papua National Liberation Army is fighting for the independence of West Papuan nation that aimed to liberate West Papua from Indonesia.
 “We have delivered a statement of war at the beginning of 2018,” he said.
As quoted by tirto.id, the National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian said 20 people confirmed victims of murder in Nduga Regency Papua that consist of 19 employees of PT. Istaka Karya and a soldier.
“The temporary news reported 20 [victims], said Karnavian during a press conference held at the Presidential Palace Complex, Jakarta on Wednesday (05/12/2018).
Indonesian Propaganda
In the meantime, Benny Wenda, the Chairman of ULMWP, separately told Jubi (5/12) that the news of the workers’ massacres in Nduga as part of Indonesian propaganda.
“That’s my assumption. It happened due to the broader support from the Indonesian people to Papuans and their nation that showed on the last 1 December. So, Indonesia attempted to show the Indonesian people that Papuans are brutal and able to do massacre. This incident cannot be confirmed yet, but the narrative of ‘massacre’ has widely spread through social media,” said Wenda.
According to him, throughout 2018, before the ‘massacre’ of the bridge construction workers in Yigi Sub-district and the attack on the military post of Battalion Infantry-755/Yalet, there were at least several accusations launched by the Indonesian Army, including the shooting incident at Kenyam Airport, Nduga on 25 June; confinement and sexual violation against dozens of teachers and paramedics from 3 – 17 October in Mapenduma Sub-district, Nduga Regency.  (*)
Reporter: Victor Mambor
Editor: Pipit Maizier

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