Secessionists accuse TNI of false propaganda, deny killing civilian
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A leader of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) admitted to having fired gunshots at a military motorcade but denied any role in the latest civilian death.
“If this is about the shooting of the battalion commander of the 431/Kostrad [Col. Indarto] ... yes, my men spied on him since dawn and shot him before they retreated,” Lambert Peukikir told The Jakarta Post over the phone on Tuesday.
Indarto was on his way back from inspecting his soldiers when his car became the target of a barrage of gunfire on Sunday. He escaped the attack, but his driver sustained an injury from the car’s broken window.
Some 300 meters behind them, Yohanes Yanafrom, the head of Sawoi Tami village, Keerom regency, lay dead with local authorities blaming the secessionist movement under Lambert’s command.
Lambert denied responsibility for Yohanes’ shooting, claiming that the deceased was an OPM member.
He said that on June 29, Yohanes came to see him at the group’s headquarters and handed Rp 300,000 (US$33), which Lambert later used to buy some things, including phone credits.
“At that moment, I told Pak Yohanes to stay behind closed doors on July 1 because I had made plans to go into action that day,” he said.
On Friday morning, Lambert said, his men snuck into the street between Sawoi Tami and Workwana village. Yohanes happened to be on the road at around 9 a.m. on his way from Sawoi Tami to Workmana.
Lambert’s men stopped him and urged him to go back to his village. “My men knew him because they were in the same troop,” he said.
Several minutes later, Col. Indarto came down the street and his car was strafed with gunfire.
“Five minutes later, we heard that Pak Yohanes was gunned down. But the question is who shot him?” Lambert said.
According to an informant, Lambert continued, there was another car following Indarto’s car.
He suspected that the police had targeted Yohanes because he was a member of OPM.
“Every Papuan wants freedom. So did Yohanes, but he was too scared to express his feelings. Therefore, even though he was a village head, he was still a member of OPM,” said Lambert.
In a bid to uncover the truth, Lambert encouraged the formation of an independent team to conduct an investigation, instead on playing the blame game. “If they do not make a move, people will continue blaming OPM.
Lambert pledged to continue fighting until a dialogue was initiated, mediated by an international body, between the government and the Papuans.
Ruben Magai, the speaker of Papuan Legislative Council (DPRP) said that the accusations against TPN/OPM over the shooting would have to be proven in order to ensure that people were not misled.
“We have heard so much on the news that the perpetrators are members of OPM or unidentified people. There has been such a stigma against OPM. It is time to prove it to ensure trust among people,” he said.