Free Papua Organzation (OPM) conducted series of gunshots in Papua during the celebration of Indonesia’s Independence Day. The shootings occurred in several areas, ranging from Paniai to Puncak Jaya, on Wednesday, August 17.
As hoisting flag ceremony was carried out at Paniai Regency Office, Maddi District, a series of gunfires were heard causing people who attended the event to get their nerves.
Paniai Regent, Naftali Yogi said the OPM members were willing to disrupt day. “They had planned to disrupt the Independence Day as a few days earlier there was information that there would be an interruption during the flag flying ceremony,” said the regent.
He went on to say that the OPM was trying to spoil the Independence Day celebration by entering the city and fired a series of shots. “This has to do with the schedule on last August 2 in London, UK, where lawyers held a congress on West Papua,” said Naftali.
The Independence Day celebration in Papua also saw a a number of Bintang Kejora (Morning Star) flag flying ceremonies in as many places as Tanah Hitam Abepura, Jayapura city and Pikhe Mount, Wamena, Jayawijaya.
Gunfires also took place in Moenamani, Dogiyai Regency, causing dozens of trucks carrying basic food and passengers heading to Paniai to be caught in idle lines in Dogiyai. Bram Mauri, Commander of the Moenamani Police in Dogiyai District, said trucks and cars had been put on hold in front of Moenamani police station since Tuesday night due to the unlikely security conditions.
“Exchange of fire took place around the street of district border between the Dogiyai and Paniai, precisely in Madi District, Paniai. It went on from 1 a.m. local time until morning. As a result, dozens of vehicles transporting food were held back,” he said.
One of the group members was shot dead by the security officers. Meanwhile a local motorbike taxi driver was also hit by an arrow in his arm.
Bram Mauri said, the group was helmed by John Yogi, son of the OPM Commander of Paniai region, Tadius Yogi.
Papua Peace Network coordinator Father Neles Tebay said currently Paniai residents in Maddi District were in fear and many fled to the mountains. Some stores were shut down as rumor saying that Tadius Yogi-led National Liberation Army of Free Papua would raise arms against the Indonesian Military (TNI) was in circulation.
The exchange of fire between Indonesian Military and National Police personnel and Free Papua Movement guerillas in Paniai, lasted from 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. local time. Consequently, in addition to one killed OPM member and a wounded motorbike taxi driver, two policemen were also injured.
Morning Star flag flying also took place in Wamena. Papua Police spokesman Chief Comm. Wachyono acknowledged this. “There was indeed Morning Star flag flying in Wamena,” he said.