Jayapura, Jubi – The West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) has reportedly attacked a community health center in Kiwirok District, Pegunungan Bintang Regency on September 13, 2021. A male nurse who survived the incident, Marselinus Atanila, said the TPNPB tortured three female nurses and stabbed one of them, Gabriella Meliani, to death.
Papua Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Ahmad Musthofa Kamal said that in addition to the attack on the health center, the TPNPB also set fire at the Papua Kiwirok Bank’s Cash Office, the Kiwirok District Office, and a number of schools and houses, prompting residents to flee to the forest.
TPNPB spokesperson Sebby Sambom said his group took responsibility for the arson including at the Kiwirok health center but denied allegation of killing a nurse.
Sambom claimed the TPNPB had complied with the humanitarian law as they had announced war against the Indonesian government and asked non-Papuan civilians to leave the war zone including Pegunungan Bintang or else, they would be regarded as combatants.
“Ignore the warnings, then [non-Papuan civilians] are part of the Indonesian security forces. The lives of non-Papuan civilian victims are the responsibility of the Indonesian government,” he said.
However, regarding the death of Gabriella Meliani, Sambom said the TPNPB did not kill the nurse and further demanded the United Nations investigate the case.
Amnesty International Indonesia deputy director Wirya Adiwena lambasted the perpetrator of the Kiwirok incident and urged the state to immediately investigate the death of nurse Meliani.
“All perpetrators of human rights violations, whether security forces, armed groups, or ordinary citizens who are proven to be involved must be tried openly, effectively and independently in civilian courts,” Adiwena said.
“This tragedy should serve as a reminder for President Jokowi to evaluate the security approach that has been practiced so far in resolving the conflict in Papua. To prevent the cycle of violence from repeating itself in Papua, the state must immediately end the impunity that has been going on for so long,” he added.
Meanwhile, 250 health workers of the Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) Papua held a peaceful rally in Pegunungan Bintang’s capital town of Oksibil on Thursday, September 16, wearing black ribbons and lit candles along the way as a tribute to the late Gabriella Meliani.
Head of IDI Papua Donald Aronggear said he regretted the tragedy and demanded safety for all health workers in Papua. “We ask the Papua provincial government and the Indonesian Military [TNI] and police to ensure the security and safety of health workers throughout Papua,” Aronggear said in a written statement on Friday.