Wamena weapons arsenal

On the morning of 4 April 2003 a group of people broke into the weapons arsenal at Wamena District Military Command and escaped with weapons and ammunition. Two soldiers and one of the raiding party were killed in the clash. The military response was extreme: in the sweeping operation that followed, an investigation by the Indonesian human rights organisation KontraS revealed that nine people were killed and 38 tortured. Another 42 people died of hunger after 25 villages were forcibly evicted and the villagers were unable to reach their normal food supplies. Eight people were arrested in the sweep and prosecuted for the raid. The majority were tortured on arrest and the trial fell far below national and international legal standards. The eight men were given heavy sentences of either 20 years or life imprisonment. In December 2004 the prisoners were moved to Makassar, where one of them, Michael Heselo, died in 2007. Several of the other prisoners continue to suffer severe health problems which prison authorities have not treated, and one suffers from mental health issues.

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