22 August 2011
On a short journey to his banana garden, a Papuan peasant is killed
Das Komba, 30 years old, left home early in the morning on Friday, 19 August to go to his banana garden, two hundred
metres from home to cut down some bunches of bananas for a family celebration. After filling his sack with several
bunches he started for home but then went back, feeling that he had not cut down enough. But Das Komba never returned
Two days later, on Sunday, search parties were sent out to look for him and his body was found in a ditch about one km
from his garden.
According to information received by Elsham, a local man, TD, left home by car to go to Youtefa market in Abepura. On
the way, about 200 meters from Arso, several passengers were stopped by a group of men in military uniform. Two
passengers were ordered to get off the bus and questioned by the soldiers 'What are you carrying there?' they were
asked, said TD as he watched the men pulled the goods out of the sacks.
At 7am next morning. WO, 30 years old was about to take his children to school but when he opened the front door of his
home, he was startled to see about five men outside. When he said 'Good morning', the men did not reply but just stared
at him. After returning home, WO went to his garden which is about 600 metres away, but after walking about 50 meters,
he found some leftovers of food and thought that some soldiers must have rested there to have a bite to eat. He then
decided to return home. WO later said that their clan chief, Fabion, had warned people not to leave their homes to
collect things from their gardens because the army would be coming there.'But if we dont go to our gardens, we will have
nothing to eat,' the people said.
A woman, TB, 27 years old, said that on that morning she had gone to her garden which was a short distance from the
garden of Das Komba with her children walking in front, listening to music on their hand phones, when they heard the
sound of gunfire coming from the direction of Das Komba's garden. As they continued their journey, three men in army
uniform appeared and, holding their guns out, said: Where are you going?' When she said she was going to her garden, the
men told her to go home. When she arrived home, she told her family that she had heard shots coming from the garden
where Das Komba was harvesting some bananas.
When Das Komba failed to return home, several people went out to look for him but they found no trace of him. All they
found was his hat, but there was no trace of his sacks or his machete. As it was getting dark, they decided to return
home and continue to search on the following day.
On Saturday, 20 August, five members of his family went out to look for him. All they could see was that banana trees
had been slashed down and the fruit had been trampled on. There were signs that something had been pulled along, perhaps
timber but they didn't find Das Komba, so they went home to ask other people to help in the search for Das.
WO then went together with several others to the police station, and later went together with the chief of the clan to
the cemetery, where they found some empty food cans, a jerry can and a few plastic bags, which the police took away as
On the next day, Sunday an extended family from Angkasa and Entrop Jayapura travelled by truck to Arso, and when they
arrived there they divided into three groups to continue the search for Das Komba. From there, a group of people climbed
a nearby hill and at about 3pm, they discovered the body of Das Komba which they decided to bury.
Several people then went to the police station to tell the police where they had found Das Komba. The police went there,
dug up the body and took it in an ambulance to Dok 11 Hospital for an autopsy.
According to WO, Das Kombawas just a simple peasant who was not a member of any organisation. 'All he did was to tend
his garden,' said WO, looking very sad.
Because of this incident, the people of Arso are very afraid to leave their homes and dont want to go to their gardens
to collect food.