Jayapura, Jubi – The National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM) Papua has asked the security forces to let the Papuan people commemorate on July 6, 2021 the alleged killing of dozens of civilians in a massacre by Indonesian security forces in West Papua 23 years ago, known as the Biak massacre.
Komnas HAM Papua head Frits Ramandey said he had been informed about the commemoration plan to be held on Tuesday this week.
“I have been contacted by those who will commemorate the Biak massacre [in a rally] on July 6. We demand relevant parties [especially the security forces] to facilitate them,” Ramandey told Jubi in a phone call on Sunday. Let the Papuans remember the Biak Massacre, he said.
He also asked the rally participants to hold a peaceful rally while complying with the health protocol.
According to Ramandey, the state owes justice to the victims and the family of victims of the Biak massacre to date. “Even the Biak government has been ignoring the victims,” he said.
He admitted that the police and the Komnas HAM had yet to complete their investigation on the alleged massacre and, therefore, hindering victims from getting the justice they deserve. “As the result of the investigation will determine if the Biak case was a human rights violation or not,” Ramandey said.
On July 2, 1998, the Papuan people in the Biak Numfor regency held a peaceful protest for four days demanding a referendum. The Indonesian Military (TNI) and police dispersed the crowd with force on July 6. The people, including those who happened to be in the location even though they were not protesters, were allegedly arrested, shot, and persecuted by the security forces.
Tineke Rumkabu, one of the alive survivors of the event, told her story in a recent online discussion. She said she saw her friend fell to the ground after being hit by a lead bullet shot by the security forces.
“I saw the heinous torture myself. I was among the protesters taken to the military post at that time,” Rumkabu said.
“I was struck with the buttstock of a gun, my hands were sliced by bayonet. Bodies were transported by truck from morning to night. I don’t know where they took them,” she continued.
Rumkabu said she was detained with three other women and four men. Not long after, a mysterious soldier whose face was painted black, making it unrecognizable, removed the handcuffs off Rumkabu and others and told them to run. Rumkabu and friends managed to escape and hid in the forest for several months. However, after coming out of hiding, she was arrested and later imprisoned.
“We have been tortured and mistreated but nonetheless, we still have to go through the legal process. Is this justice? Too many victims. There are still many other alive survivors like me,” she said.
The Papuan Institute for Human Rights Studies and Advocacy (Elsham Papua) recorded eight people died, three went missing, four severely injured, 33 mildly injured, and 150 people arrested and persecuted during the Biak massacre. The report also said 32 bodies were found in Biak water at that time.
Reporter: Arjuna Pademme