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Jakarta Post

Papuans doubtful over govt team to probe shootings

  • Alya Nurbaiti

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, October 3, 2020   /   01:27 pm
Papuans doubtful over govt team to probe shootings A mural shows two Papuans with the words: “If we are monkeys, don’t force monkeys to raise the [Indonesian] flag. Stop racism.” The mural, displayed on a road connecting Depok and Bogor, West Java, refers to an incident last year in Surabaya, East Java, in which a Papuan student was vilified and called a “monkey”. The incident led to a string of antiracism protests. (JP/P.J.Leo)

Papuans have expressed doubt over the establishment of a joint fact-finding team (TGPF) to probe the recent shootings in Papua, including the killing of Papuan pastor Yeremia Zanambani in Intan Jaya regency.

They raised concerns that the team under the Office of the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister would solve nothing unless the government had the will to solve the systemic violence in the easternmost province.

“We, the church and I, believe that all the Papuan people are unsure whether the team can fairly and transparently investigate and disclose what happened [to Yeremia], because past investigations of unlawful killings in Papua have never been made public,” Pastor Andrikus Mofu, the general synod chairman of the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) in Papua, said in an online discussion on Friday.

Read also: Indonesia forms team to probe recent shootings in Papua, but state rights body excluded

There have been 47 cases of unlawful killings leaving 96 people dead in Papua over the past two years, a marked increase from the figures recorded from 2010 to 2018, namely 69 cases and 95 victims, according to Amnesty International Indonesia. That figure is believed to be a conservative estimate.

“Of the 47 cases, only four made it to a trial, two of which were [closed trials] at the military court,” Amnesty International Indonesia researcher Ari Pramuditya said.

Pastor Dona Balubun of GKI Papua said she was pessimistic about the team, especially because its composition was dominated by the government and the military. She also questioned the absence of representatives from the Indonesian Evangelical Christian Church (GKII).

A ministerial decree signed by Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD on Thursday shows that the team comprises 30 people, including ministry officials, members of state institutions including the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), the National Police and the Indonesian Military (TNI), an academic and seven Papuan public figures.

“How do we investigate if ‘we’ are the perpetrator?” Dona asked. “The GKII must be included in the team, because they know the victim and the terrain so that there will be a discussion and monitoring”.

Yeremia was allegedly shot by TNI personnel on his way to his pigpen on Sept. 19, according to the GKII and local media. However, the TNI and Mahfud claimed that an armed criminal group (KKB) was behind Yeremia’s death.

Papuan lawmaker Yan Mandenas of House of Representatives Commission I, which oversees information and defense, said the government should have done the investigation immediately, without first accusing the KKB publicly.

“The government didn’t show accurate proof that the KKB was responsible either. Please don’t let the investigative team be just another formality because the case got exposure,” the Gerindra Party politician said.

Read also: Intan Jaya pastor third churchman allegedly killed by security personnel, church says

Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) researcher Adriana Elisabeth said she feared the recent unlawful killings in Papua would not be the last, as the government had yet to address the key issue in Papua.

“The team must understand the root cause of Papua’s problems, so that the current investigation can be an entry point to solve other problems of injustice. Besides, the team should also provide insight on how to stop violence in Papua,” said Adriana.

She further said the team should be a space for the government and the Papuan people to listen to each other instead of just reporting investigation results.

“One of the root problems in Papua is the rigid dichotomy between separatism and nationalism. There is no trust from Papuans toward the government and vice versa, therefore, a dialogue where both parties are willing to listen is much needed,” she said.

Ari of Amnesty added that the government should not solve human rights abuse in Papua case by case but rather through an effective mechanism that was independent and impartial.

“But now that another team has been established, the team must work independently, objectively and transparently. It must deliver its results to the public, especially to the families of victims,” he said.

Separately, Papua Governor Lukas Enembe said his administration would soon establish a humanitarian team to help Intan Jaya residents face issues stemming from violence in the region.

The team, he said, would be comprised of representatives of the Papua administration, members of the public and church members.  He said his office was currently drafting a decree for the establishment of the team.

“The shooting of pastor Yeremia Zanambani must be investigated. But apart from that, the problems faced by Intan Jaya residents recently have been very hard. There have been reports of violence taking place there, similar to what occurred during my term as a regent in Puncak Jaya,” he said in a statement on Friday.

The administration will take on a bigger role in helping residents to overcome the trauma from the violence, Lukas added.

Editor's note:

This story has been updated to include a statement from Papua Governor Lukas Enembe.