Indonesian Military Operation Causes Starvation
Indonesian Military Operation in Jamo Valley causes starvation and displacement
Reports from Human Rights workers confirm that the Indonesian military (TNI) and police launched a new military offensive in the Jamo (also spelt Yamo) Valley in the remote Puncak Jaya region of West Papua, in the first week of August 2007.
These sources said that a mother and two children died from starvation when they were hiding in the forest after fleeing the military operations.
Local people are reported to have been beaten by Indonesian security forces and many people have fled to the surrounding forests and mountains to hide.
Human rights workers say that the affected area includes the villages of Wundu and Propalo. The only way in and out of this rugged area is by walking or light aircraft or helicopter.
The troops involved in the operation were reported to be from TNI Battalion 756 in Wamena and Battalion 752 Nabire and the paramilitary Mobile Police Brigade (Brimob) from Jayapura.
One source said that the military operations began when the TNI and police came from Mulia to surround a hideout of the OPM/TPN guerrilla leader Goliat Tabuni. It was reported that this military operation was unsuccessful.
Another report said that the entire population of young people (men and women) in some villages had fled into the forests and mountains in fear of reprisals from the Indonesian security forces. The Indonesian security forces are said to have accused the villagers of supporting Goliat Tabuni and the OPM/TPN guerrillas. This source also said that only young children and old people are left in Wundu and Propalo villages and that they are traumatised.
"The security forces surrounded our church, forced us out of church and beat us. They destroyed our houses, pigs, and food gardens. We villagers become the victims, caught between the TPN/OPM on one side and the Indonesian military on the other. That is why people have fled their villages" said a source from the area who did not want to be named.
The Institute for Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights (IPAHR) is deeply concerned about the welfare and security of local people in the Jamo valley in Puncak Jaya.
"Over the past year the people in this region have been repeatedly been displaced from their homes by military operations. The repeated military offensives and ongoing occupation of this region by the Indonesian security forces makes the lives of the people very difficult and means that people have had to flee their homes, pigs and food gardens and live from the little they can find in the mountain forests," said Paula Makabory representing Institute for Papuan Advocacy & Human Rights.
"The capacity of local human rights and church workers to assist is also severely constrained by the Indonesian security forces and the Goliat Tabuni's OPM/TPN group."
"The Indonesian Government ban on international media & humanitarian organisations in West Papua means that international community cannot assess of the situation or provide humanitarian assistance in the Jamo valley."