puncak displaced people
Komnas HAM Papua head Frits Ramandey (center) with the displaced people in Puncak. Courtesy of Komnas HAM Papua.

‘War’ is over: Puncak regent sends displaced people home in ‘burning bezoar’ ceremony


Ilaga, Jubi – The Puncak Regency administration held a ceremony of burning bezoar, or a pig gallstone, which usually marked the end of the war in the Papuan tradition, in this case, the escalated armed conflict that had occurred in the region since late April. The ceremony was performed in the capital city of Ilaga on Thursday, July 8, 2021, to send the displaced people in Puncak back to their villages.


During the ceremony held at the Trikora Square, in front of hundreds of residents and displaced people, Puncak regent Willem Wandik declared the war, or “wim” in the local language, was over. “Wim is over,” Wandik said.


The regent said that the ceremony was carried out so that all parties including the displaced people agree that the armed conflict in Puncak had ended, at least for now.



“For the past two months, the community has had no activity [because they were displaced]. So, [burning bezoar] is a way to level the perceptions about the current situation, [because] we see people are traumatized. We are here [attending the ceremony] to escort these people back to their homes,” he said.


Read more: 653 residents flee home to West Papua’s Ilaga while thousands go to the forests


Wandik asked the displaced people to return home in a hope that they could rebuild houses, return to farming, and repair the damaged cattle pens that had been abandoned ever since the people left the villages. He admitted, however, that he could not guarantee there would be no armed conflict in the near future.


“Today we send the displaced people homes but were the conflict escalated again, they may evacuate to Ilaga again,” he said.


Indeed, gunshots were heard during the ceremony, twelve times at least, that the people ran to save themselves. However, the people came back and followed through the return ceremony.


Read more: Return displaced people in Puncak to their homes: Indonesian rights body


National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM) Papua head Frits Ramandey reported that as of June 2, the armed conflict in Puncak had resulted in 3,019 people from 23 villages to fled their homes to avoid getting caught in the crossfire between the Indonesian Military (TNI) and police and the National Liberation Army of West Papua (TPNPB). Most of them took refuge in Ilaga and Gome districts.


Even though the administration has officially asked the displaced people to return homes, a number of displaced people told Jubi they were still afraid to return to their hometowns. One of the tribal chiefs said that gunfires between the TPNPB and security forces might occur again and if it happened, that would make another wave of displaced people.


Some of the residents do not dare to return to their villages because of the fear that the security forces are still guarding there. They are afraid of becoming “the wrong target”, that they choose to stay in the refugee camps.


“Our brother and sister want to be here because there are still soldiers at home. If there is gunfire, we might get hit,” he said.


Reporter: Yuliana Lantipo

Editor: Aryo Wisanggeni G

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