About 500 inhabitants of Dagouto village in Paniai Regency,
Papua, have opted to leave their homes and seek refuge following the deployment
of 150 Mobile Brigade officers to their area, Paniai tribe council chief John
Gobai said Wednesday.
“Our people have become refugees at Uwatawogi Hall in
Enarotali, Paniai, for several weeks. They are now afraid they may not be able
to celebrate Christmas at home,” John told reporters at the National Commission
on Human Rights (Komnas HAM).
John, along with four other Paniai people, was at the
commission to complain about the presence of police officers in the area, which
they said “exacerbated the security situation.”
The National Police has increased its numbers of personnel
in the regency following several deadly shootings, reportedly claiming the
lives of eight traditional miners working on the Degeuwo River, near Dagouto,
Later reports revised the number of victims to only one
A former lawmaker who is also a Paniai patron, Ruben Gobai, said
the situation in the Dagouto area had returned to normal, and that the presence
of Mobile Police Brigade officers was unnecessary.
Komnas HAM commissioner Ridha Saleh said his team would ask
National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo for clarification of the deployment of
police personnel to the Dagouto area.
“The government has repeatedly pledges not to use a security
approach to address issues in Papua. But this may have been empty rhetoric,”
Violence has been escalating in Papua since the Third Papuan
People’s Congress was held from Oct. 16-19 in Abepura, Jayapura, when police
and military officers forcefully dispersed the event, seizing both organizers
and participants of the congress, and shooting and injuring countless congress
participants in what was largely described as a completely unnecessary display
of police brutality and violence.
Numerous unidentified gunmen shooting civilians in Papua
have been reported in the past two months, with dozens, including four police
officers, being killed.