TNI, Intan Jaya
TNI personnel stand guard. Courtesy of

Intan Jaya onflict (3): With new regency, new conflicts arise


West Papua No.1 News Portal | Jubi


Jayapura, JubiPapuan Humanity Team on Case of Violence against Religious Figures in Intan Jaya regency, or Humanity Team, has completed the documentation of alleged extrajudicial killings against Protestant pastor Yeremia Zanambani on Sept. 19, 2020. This report documents facts surrounding the killing of Pastor Yeremia.


This report includes analysis of the context of violence in Intan Jaya regency, in particular between Indonesian Military (TNI) and the West Papua Liberation Army (TPNPB), which has been happening at the expense of civilians in the regency. This is the third from the series published in



Historically, Intan Jaya Regency, in particular Sugapa dan Hitadipa districts, had never been a territory of West Papua Liberation Army (TPNPB). When the districts were part of Paniai Regency before 2008, the area was not a place where TPNPB had any command.


Besides the two districts, Intan Jaya had Agisiga, Biandoga, Homeyo, and Wandai districts, which were all part of Paniai Regency before 2008, when the Indonesian government issued a law on the establishment of new administrative entities including Intan Jaya.


In 2013, the Indonesian government formed two new districts in Intan Jaya: Ugimba, a split from Sugapa, and Tomosiga, a split fromo Agisiga.


Read also: Intan Jaya conflict (1): Risks of continued violence loom


In the first years of Intan Jaya as a new regency, the new administrative territory saw social conflicts but it was more of petty crimes: community brawls, fighting for community turfs, or brawls preceded by drunkenness.


After eleven years of being an autonomous administrative territory, local leaders had yet to bring significant changes to the regency population of nearly 50,000 people. The regency had the persistent problems of poverty, low human development index (HDI), economic inequality, and isolation in several areas. Intan Jaya Regency’s HDI in 2015 was 44.35, lower than the provincial index of 57.25.


In 2019, Intan Jaya Education and Teaching Agency showed that there were only 47 schools in the regency: three kindergartens, 36 elementary schools, seven junior high schools, and only one high school. For the 50,000 population of Intan Jaya, there were 222 teachers: six in kindergarten, 138 for elementary schools, 67 for junior high, and 11 for the one high school.


Read also: Intan Jaya conflict (2): Civilians become victims of TNI-TPNPB war


Health facilities in Intan Jaya are also not enough to serve the population well. Intan Jaya Health Agency recorded there were 24 health facilities: eight community health centers (Puskesmas), 13 units of auxiliary Puskesmas, two clinics, and one General Regional Hospital, which is located in the Puskesmas in Sugapa district. In Intan Jaya there is no specialized maternity health facility nor there any pharmacy centers.


The lack of health facilities in Intan Jaya had forced residents to go to Nabire, 139 kilometers away, or Timika, 116 kilometers away, to get better health access.


The reason behind the establishment of a new administrative territory like a regency is to improve the public service in the area. The logic is when a certain area has its own leadership, the public would get service faster because the area would also get a dedicated budget allocation. But it seems that in Intan Jaya, residents still have to struggle to get basic needs while new types of conflicts emerged, which were conflicts related to local electoral politics and conflicts involving the Indonesian Military (TNI) and TPNPB.


During the general elections in 2014, Intan Jaya saw a dispute involving accusation of vote rigging in the election of regional legislative election. The election had brought increased security personnel to the regency as well. Besides election-related conflicts, the increased presence of security personnel in Sugapa, the administrative center of the regency, had led to some tension. On Sept. 29, 2014, two civilians were shot after they had an altercation with two Mobile Brigade (Brimob) officers from the National Police.


Read also: Brimob Accused of Mistreating 15 Students in Intan Jaya


Seprianus Japugau, 22, got shot in his stomach while Benyamin Agimbau, 30, got severely injured after getting beaten with a rifle.


After that, Humanity Team recorded at least seven altercations involving Brimob and civilians. The cases included a shooting allegedly done by a Brimob personnel at Malon Sondegau in Sugapa on Aug. 25, 2016. Malon was injured. Two days later, another Brimob personnel shot Otinus Sondegau, who died because of it. His death prompted a public outcry and some residents came to Sugapa Police precinct, angry, and they torched the building.


Humanity Team recorded another violent case involving security personnel, which was the stabbing of Kemandoga Ijihogama Selegani, a tribal chief, in Homeyo in December 2015.


Bigger conflicts flared up during the regional leader elections to vote for regent and deputy regent for 2017-2022. The election ended with a dispute and a brawl between supporters of running mates Yulius Yapugau-Yunus Kalabetme and incumbent Natalis Tabuni-Robert Kobogoyauw.


The supporters of the rival camps clashed at Intan Jaya General Elections Commission (KPU) office on Feb. 23, 2017. Supporters of Yulius camp wanted KPU officers to quickly announce the vote counting but KPU refused because they were still waiting for votes from Wandai and Agisiga districts. Three died in the clash and 101 others were injured.


Papua Police deployed 400 additional personnel to Intan Jaya after the clash. Among them were 30 Brimob personnel from Bali who were stationed in Dogiyai Regency. The vote counting finally finished the next day.


Read also: A story of Zaki, a teacher from Aceh who dedicated his life for education in remote Intan Jayapura, Papua (Part 1)


On May 15, 2017, the General Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) Papua rejected the vote counting from Intan Jaya. Bawaslu claimed they found that KPU Intan Jaya failed to meet some administrative requirements. The dispute was brought the Constitutional Court in Jakarta, which ordered KPU to repeat voting in seven polling booths. On Aug. 29, 2017, the Court announced that the winner of the election was incumbent Natalis, canceling KPU’s decision that gave victory to Yulius’ camp.


The Court’s decision prompted a protest from Yulius’ supporters, who blocked Sugapa’s airport and burned down several administrative buildings. Markets closed business that day, and indigenous Papuans stayed at home while nonindigenous chose to take refuge at the police and military headquarters.


After the violent protest in Sugapa, Intan Jaya got another fresh deployment. A hundred Brimob personnel from South Sulawesi were sent to Intan Jaya to guard vital public facilities. After his inauguration on Dec. 12, 2017, Regent Natalis vowed to initiate reconciliation with all his political rivals. However, the 2017 conflicts lingered and new conflicts arose, while the leaders could not resolve them.


Reporter: Victor Mambor

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