Papuan Rebels Kill 16-Year-Old Boy for Being ‘Intelligence Agent’

Arnold Belau
Jayapura, Indonesia
2021-04-16
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Papuan Rebels Kill 16-Year-Old Boy for Being ‘Intelligence Agent’ A coffin with the body of Oktovianus Rayo, a schoolteacher who was shot by suspected armed rebels in Beoga district, arrives in Timika, in Indonesia’s Papua province, April 10, 2021.
[AFP]

Separatist rebels shot dead a 16-year-old schoolboy in Indonesia’s Papua province, police said Friday about the latest in a spate of recent killings of civilians whom the insurgents accused of spying for the government.

As they did after other fatal attacks this month, the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) rebels claimed responsibility for the boy’s killing. Lekagak Telenggen, the group’s general operations chief, said the teenager, Ali Mom, was a spy for the authorities. 

“Yesterday night around 6 or 7 p.m. my members shot dead a provocateur and intelligence agent named Ali Mom in Ilaga,” Lekagak told BenarNews by phone from Ilaga, a district in Puncak regency where the teenager was gunned down.

Gunmen ambushed Ali, a high school student, after he delivered groceries to a nearby village on Thursday night, Papua police Inspector General Mathius Fakhiri said.

He said “the armed criminal group” – a term that the security forces use for the separatist rebels – was behind the killing.

“The motive for the shooting is not yet known,” Fakhiri told reporters.

“Our personnel are still investigating and hunting for the armed criminal group.”

Ali was the fourth civilian killed by the insurgents in a little more than a week.

TBNPB, the armed wing of the Free Papua Movement separatist group, has in the past claimed responsibility for killing people they accuse of being spies or soldiers disguised as civilians.

In late 2018, the group said it was responsible for attacks that left at least 20 people dead in Papua. At the time, the rebels said that the people they killed were soldiers masquerading in plain clothes as construction workers.

Similarly, TBNPB said it was responsible for the killing of two teachers last week.

The rebels claimed that Oktovianus Rayo, 42, and Yonathan Renden, 28, who taught at a local elementary school and junior high school, respectively, in Beoga district, were government informants.

The group said it also killed a motorcycle taxi driver in Omukia district on Wednesday.

Many government soldiers and police personnel disguise themselves as motorcycle taxi drivers, teachers and traders – especially in conflict areas such as Intan Jaya, Puncak and Nduga regencies – Gusby Waker, the TPNPB operations commander in Intan Jaya regency, told BenarNews earlier this week.

Amnesty International condemned the killing of the civilians, saying this was a clear affront to fundamental human rights principles.

“We strongly condemn the shooting of two teachers in Beoga District and a motorcycle taxi driver in Omukia District and send our deepest condolences to the families of the victims,” Usman Hamid, Amnesty International director in Indonesia, said in a statement.

Amnesty called on the government to immediately carry out an independent and thorough investigation into the incidents and ensure that those responsible were brought to justice under the law.

“We also urge the government to ensure that any response to these incidents does not lead to a new cycle of violence and human rights violations,” said Usman.

“The crime should not be used as an excuse to repress and violate the human rights of people in Papua.”

According to Amnesty International’s Indonesia office, at least 22 people were victims of unlawful killings in Papua in 2020.

Soldiers sent to Papua

On Wednesday, the Indonesian military sent 450 additional personnel from Borneo Island to Papua, the Viva.co.id news site reported.

The soldiers are to be stationed in the Puncak Jaya area, as part of an Indonesia-Papua New Guinea border security unit, Viva said.

In a pastoral letter dated April 9, the Papuan Church Council criticized the increasing deployment of Indonesian security forces in Papua and the government’s labeling of separatists as “terrorists.”

Indonesian forces have been accused of committing human rights abuses in Papua, often with impunity.

The church council urged the United Nations Human Rights Council to send representatives to Papua to investigate alleged rights violations.

The letter said that more than 480 people had died and 34,000 were displaced by the conflict in Nduga regency since December 2018, when separatist rebels killed the 20 construction workers they claimed were soldiers.

Three separate investigations have pointed to the involvement of military personnel in the slaying of a Papuan Christian priest, Yeremia Zanambani, last September.

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) said its investigation found that a deputy commander of the army unit in Intan Jaya was suspected to have shot and tortured Zanambani.

The Papuan Church Council also alleged racism against Papuan indigenous people.

“We have heard thousands of racist remarks by security forces and civilians against Papuans on social media, verbally and through policies,” the Papuan Church Council said in its letter.

“The power holders and the people of Indonesia still see Papuans as second-class citizens in Indonesia and treat us like animals. Papuans at all levels have experienced Indonesia’s racism for 58 years.”

In 1963, Indonesian forces invaded the Papua region – which makes up the western half of New Guinea Island – and annexed it. In 1969, Papua held a referendum in which security forces selected slightly more than 1,000 people to agree to the region’s formal absorption into Indonesia, according to human rights advocacy groups.

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