Tempo Indonesia: Cover-up in Papua

Tempo Indonesia: Cover-up in Papua

TEMPO.COJakarta – The Indonesian Military is strongly suspected of being behind the death of Pastor Yeremia Zanambani. This only moves Papua further away from Indonesia.

Papua Police Commander Greets Indonesian Army Troops Deployed to West Papua
Papua Police Commander Greets Indonesian Army Troops Deployed to West Papua

THE report by the independent humanitarian team investigating the death of Pastor Yeremia Zanambani is a slap in the face for the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the administration of Joko Widodo. The team headed by human rights activist Haris Azhar was established to investigate the violence against Yeremia, 63, principal of the Hitadipa Bible Theology High School in Intan Jaya Regency, Papua.

Yeremia was found covered in blood in a pigsty not far from his house on September 19. His wife told the independent team that just before he died, Yeremia said the shooters were the people they usually helped and gave food to. This statement points towards Alpius, a member of the TNI, and a friend whose identity is not yet known. According to the report from the independent team, as well as being shot, the pastor was also stabbed in the back.

Previously, the joint fact-finding team established by the government and headed by Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud Md. had reached a much vaguer conclusion. According to Mahfud, the killing may have been carried out by the security forces or by a third party, a term that is usually taken to mean the Free Papua Movement (OPM). The TNI and National Police also accuse the OPM of being behind the violence.

Before the investigation into the killing of Pastor Yeremia was complete, there was another human rights violation in Intan Jaya. The victim was Rufinus Tigau, a catechist, or Catholic religious teacher. He is believed to have been shot dead by the TNI on his way home from a catechism meeting at the St. Mikhael Parish Church in Bilogai, Intan Jaya, on October 26. Meinus Kobagau, a 3-year-old child, was also shot but was not killed. Although it has been denied by the Timika Diocese, the TNI claims that Rufinus was a member of the OPM.

According to Amnesty International Indonesia, in 2020 there were 15 deadly incidents that killed 22 people in Papua. Most of the perpetrators are believed to have been police or TNI personnel. The majority of these incidents were not properly investigated, and some were ignored completely. The joint fact-finding team was only established after the death of Pastor Yeremia — and even this reached uncertain and ambiguous conclusions.

Times have changed. The Indonesian government must not use the old-fashioned approach in dealing with injustices in Papua. Sending large numbers of troops from units outside Papua only makes matters worse. The government should step up the dialogue with all of the elements of Papuan society after it has carefully determined its composition.

The Indonesian Bishops Conference (KWI) should not simply sit on its hands in the face of this never-ending violence. As a stakeholder in the Catholic-majority province, the KWI should speak out more directly to the OPM, the government in Jakarta and the TNI.

There is too much mistrust of Papuans in the central government. The international community is skeptical about Jakarta’s solutions to the problems in Papua. Allowing or covering up violations of human rights in Papua is increasingly moving the province further away from Indonesia.

Read the Complete Story in Tempo English Magazine

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