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Jakarta Post

Watchdogs demand transparent investigation, civil legal procedures on Intan Jaya shooting

  • Tri Indah Oktavianti

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, October 23, 2020   /   03:03 pm
Watchdogs demand transparent investigation, civil legal procedures on Intan Jaya shooting Voices of youth: Activists of the Civil Society for Democracy Alliance rally outside the South Jakarta District Court on Dec. 2, 2019, to demand the release of 23 Papuans they consider political prisoners and the withdrawal of the military and police from the province. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

A coalition of human rights groups have called on the government to reveal detailed information on the suspected killers of Pastor Yeremia Zanambani in Intan Jaya regency, Papua, after a state-formed fact-finding (TGPF) reportedly found indications of security forces’ involvement.

They demanded that the suspects' identities and motives be revealed, as well as the names of high-ranking officials who might have had a hand in the fatal shooting. None of this information was included in the report, the coalition said.

Comprising Amnesty International Indonesia, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Imparsial, the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) and the Democratic Alliance for Papua, the coalition further demanded that the authorities follow up on the fact-finding team’s investigation through civil legal procedures and not the military court to ensure justice for the victim’s family.

“If it is proven that TNI [Indonesian Military] personnel were involved in this case, we demand transparent legal proceedings through the civil court,” Amnesty International Indonesia researcher Ari Pramuditya said during a webinar on Thursday.

He argued that military tribunals had not been transparent in bringing offenders to justice in the past, pointing out that only a few military personnel had stood trial at a military court despite the many cases of violence against civilians reported in Papua over the years.

Read also: PGI, Komnas HAM call for further investigation into Papuan pastor's death following report

Amnesty’s report revealed that 34 cases of unlawful killings occurred in Papua between 2010 until 2018, allegedly involving military personnel. However, only six were brought before the military court, Ari said.

He also criticized the government for using armed groups as scapegoats for any violence taking place in the country’s easternmost province.

Ari pointed to Col. Suriastawa, the spokesman for the Joint Regional Defense Command III in Papua, who previously said Yeremia had been shot by a “separatist group”.

Even though the TGPF’s report indicated the alleged involvement of security forces in the pastor’s shooting, Coordinating Political, Legal and Human Rights Minister Mahfud MD said there was the possibility of a third party’s involvement in the crime.

“We see hesitation [from the government] in the report [...] It even creates more confusion for us,” Ari further said.

The groups also criticized Mahfud for suggesting that the government deploy more security personnel into vulnerable areas in Papua in order to maintain peace and safety in the region.

“We encourage the government to evaluate the deployment of military personnel to Papua, where violence has grown in intensity each year,” said Alif Nur Fikri from Kontras.

Read also: Papuans don’t want TNI, police withdrawn from region, Mahfud MD claims

Security personnel has contributed to the many cases of violence in the restive region, he said, adding that the plan raised questions over whether the Papuan people truly felt safe with the TNI’s presence.

Imparsial executive director Al Araf echoed Alif’s sentiment, saying that the military’s approach had been proven ineffective in solving conflicts across Papua. 

“At one point, the government wanted to use the economic approach for the Papuan people, but they also wanted to escalate the military approach in the region; this would create more distrust among local communities,” he added.

The Indonesian Communion of Churches, the Indonesian Evangelical Christian Church (GKII) and local media in Papua claimed Yeremia was shot by TNI personnel on his way to his pig pen on Sept. 19, at the same time a military operation was reportedly taking place.

The incident prompted the government to establish the TGPF tasked under a 14-day deadline to investigate the fatal shooting. The team concluded its fact-finding mission on Oct. 12 after conducting a crime scene investigation and questioning more than 25 eyewitnesses.