The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has stated that the fatal shooting of Pastor Yeremia Zanambani in Hitadipa district, Intan Jaya, Papua is not a standalone incident, but rather a part of a series of violence occurring across the regency throughout this year.
The commission launched an independent investigation into the incident, which did not work with the government-sanctioned fact-finding team (TGPF) that was formed by Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD.
“The murder of Pastor Yeremia is not a standalone case; there was a series of events leading to it,” Komnas HAM commissioner Choirul Anam, who leads the investigation team, said during a press briefing on Saturday.
“We have collected information and supporting evidence, but we will examine it first with experts in order to make a solid conclusion,” he went on to say.
Frits Ramandey, a Komnas HAM representative in Papua, said at least 18 other cases had preceded the shooting of the priest.
“The pattern and character of the cases in several districts in Intan Jaya are similar to [Yeremia’s] case, where there were both civilian and security personnel casualties,” Frits said.
During the press briefing, Choirul also questioned the security governance in the regency, due to the high number of incidents during a short span of time across the regency.
He added that during their visit to Papua, the commission members had received a letter from the Papuan Council of Churches demanding the government stop sending troops to Papua.
“They wish for a peaceful rather than a security approach as the latter only brings violence and discomfort to the Papuans,” Choriul went on to say.
Moreover, the commission received objections from the manager of a school in Hitadipa over the use of a school building as a military post, which hindered 100 students from studying in their classroom. Choriul said Komnas HAM had reported the concerns to the Office of the Coordinating Legal, Political and Security Affairs Minister.
The commissioner said the Komnas HAM investigation team had gathered sufficient information, including a crime scene reconstruction of the incident, which would help them to reveal what had happened and name people implicated in the case.
Yeremia, the head of a theological school in Hitadipa and a pastor in the Imanuel Hitadipa congregation of the Indonesian Evangelical Christian Church (GKII), was shot dead on Sept. 19.
Many claimed that an Indonesian Military (TNI) soldier shot him dead, while the military denied the allegations and was pointing fingers to the Papuan armed group.
Minister Mahfud later formed a joint TGPF to investigate the case as well as similar cases in Intan Jaya. Komnas HAM, however, was not included in the team.
“Our findings and recommendation are independent and not related to the TGPF. We hope the government will listen to us because we are taking a human rights approach,” Chorul said, adding that Yeremia’s family put hope on the commission to seek justice.
The government-sanctioned TGPF said it had completed its investigation on Saturday. Benny Mamoto of the National Police Commission (Kompolnas), who leads the field investigation unit, said Mahfud would announce the investigation results on Monday.