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Thursday, 25 February 2021 - 00:43 WIB

Intan Jaya conflict (8): People continue to suffer while two armed groups fight

Residents of Intan Jaya Regency, Papua, seek safety at the front yard of Bilogai Catholic Church in Intan Jaya following armed conflicts. Jub/.Handout

Residents of Intan Jaya Regency, Papua, seek safety at the front yard of Bilogai Catholic Church in Intan Jaya following armed conflicts. Jub/.Handout

West Papua No.1 News Portal | Jubi

 

Jayapura, Jubi – Papuan Humanity Team on Case of Violence against Religious Figures in Intan Jaya regency, or Humanity Team, has completed the documentation of alleged extrajudicial killings against Protestant pastor Yeremia Zanambani on Sept. 19, 2020. This report documents facts surrounding the killing of Pastor Yeremia.

 

This report includes analysis of the context of violence in Intan Jaya regency, in particular between Indonesian Military (TNI) and the West Papua Liberation Army (TPNPB), which has been happening at the expense of civilians in the regency. This is the eighth from the series published in jubi.co.id.

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The killing of Pastor Yeremia Zanambani shocked the Protestant communities in Papua Land because the pastor was well known and respected not just in Intan Jaya but also in Papua Land. They also questioned the hasty claim made by the Indonesian Military (TNI) that the perpetrators were from the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB).

 

On Sept. 21, Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) announced that they had received information from the Kemah Injil Indonesia Church (GKII) that the alleged perpetrators were from the TNI.

 

Read also: Intan Jaya conflict (7): What witnesses say about Yeremia Zanambani’s murder

 

“It was not easy for us to clarify what happened that day. We have sent a letter to the President of Republic of Indonesia, the National Police, and the TNI chief to investigate the case thoroughly and bring the perpetrators to court. To avoid pointing fingers at each other, as it already happened, we want an independent investigation team. This case has to be the last one,” the PGI announced in their release.

 

But not long after that, another shooting happened. On Oct. 7, 2020, a catechist at Timika Diocese of the Catholic Church, Agustinus Duwitau, was shot. Duwitau helped the priests to translate prayers from Indonesian to the local language. Duwitau allegedly was shot on his left shoulder by TNI personnel when he walked from Bilogai Parish to Kampung Emondi.

 

TNI claimed that Duwitau was a TPNPB member and they said Duwitau was not a catechist, calling the information that said he was a catechist a “hoax”. Later, Timika Diocese confirmed that Duwitau was a catechist.

 

Read also: Intan Jaya conflict (6): Here’s the list of violent events from Dec. 2019 to Sept. 2020

 

Two days later, TPNPB shot a member of the government’s fact-finding team in Intan Jaya, scholar from Gadjah Mada University, Bambang Purwoko. Bambang sustained shots in his leg and arm.

 

On Oct. 26, 2020, TNI allegedly shot another catechist, Rufinus Tigau, who worked for Santo Mikael Bilogai Church. He was dead because of the shooting. TNI later claimed that Tigau was a TPNPB member. But Timika Diocese administrator, priest Marthen Kuayo, Pr. denied TNI’s claim, saying that Tigau was a catechist who worked in Kampung Jalai, Sugapa District, since 2015.

 

The armed altercation between TNI and TPNPB happened again on Nov. 5, 2020, injuring Agopageba Sani in his head. The victim was brought to Intan Jaya General Hospital in Sugapa, but the medical workers there suggested bringing Sani to a bigger hospital in Nabire or Timika.

 

Read also: Intan Jaya conflict (5): A new armed conflict that brings deaths

 

When the group who were bringing Sani to a bigger hospital was waiting for the aircraft, a group of TNI from Kampung Mamba came. They hit two Sani’s relatives and claimed that Sani was TPNPB.

 

On Nov. 6, 2020, TPNPB and TNI got into another armed altercation again, this time in Kampung Titigi, Sugapa District. A TNI soldier, First Pvt. Firdaus died in the crossfire and another, First Pvt. Arbi Setiawan got shot and injured in his right leg.

 

Leaving home

 

The tension has forced civilians in Intan Jaya to leave their homes since mid December in 2019, following the shootings of two TNI personnel, First Lt. Erizal Zuhri Sidabutar and Second Sgt. Rizky Ramadhan.

 

Read also: Intan Jaya conflict (4): Mountain of gold raises concerns for new problems

 

The deputy speaker of Intan Jaya Legislative Council, Marten Tipagau, said that the armed altercation occurred in Sugapa, Hitadipa and Ugimba districts. “About 700 to 900 families left their homes to take refuge in mountains and other places because of the armed altercation,” Marten said on Dec. 20, 2019.

 

A Catholic priest at Titigi Parish in Intan Jaya, Yance Yogi, said the civilians who left homes since Dec. 2019 were scattered. Some of them were displaced at church compounds, some lived in their relatives’ houses, some even were hiding in the forests.

 

“I cannot tell you whether it is safe or not in Intan Jaya now. The situation has been tense. Some went to Nabire or Timika to seek safety,” said the priest in an interview with Jubi on Jan. 5, 2020.

 

Read also: Intan Jaya onflict (3): With new regency, new conflicts arise

 

About a year later, after the shooting of Pastor Yeremia Zanambani, the displaced civilians grew larger. “At least the congregations of at least 11 churches were traumatized. When the TNI, the National Police or the TPNPB entered an area, it would force the civilians to run from their homes. Many ran for safety to Biandoga, a kampung bordering on Puncak Regency. Some ran to Agisiga District. When I went to Hitadipa District, I only saw two men. The others were gone. So the third person in the whole district was only myself. All are empty,” said Bernardus Kobogau to the Humanity Team on Oct. 24, 2020.

 

The Timika Diocese adn Kemah Injil Indonesia Church (GKII) had tried to collect the data on the displaced Intan Jaya residents after Zanambani’s killing. They recorded 367 names while the Intan Jaya administration identified 99 more names. From the total of 466 residents who were forced to leave home, 113 of them lived in neighboring kampung like Balamai, Janamba, Pugisiga, and Kulapa. They were also in Hitadipa District.

 

236 left the regency and lived in Mimika, Nabire, and Puncak regencies. The whereabouts of the remaining 117 was unknown.

 

The church and the administration estimated that the number of the displaced people were actually larger. But data collection was difficult because many of the residents were too afraid to report to a government body.

 

The presence of security personnel in Sugapa and Hitadipa districts had also made it difficult for the church workers to collect data. The churches suspected that many of the residents were hiding in the forests and they could not find the identity of these people.

 

Testimonies from displaced residents of Kampung Ndugusiga from Intan Jaya who were scattered in Nabire Regency showed that at least four of Ndugusiga residents had died while taking shelter: Alberto Weya, a fifth grader, Yufinia Weya, a first grader, Monce Mirip, a first grader, and one adult, Yakofita Kogore.

 

A woman, 29, who requested anonymity said she left home since mid December 2019 after a crossfire in Kulapa on Dec. 17 spread to kampung like Yoparu, Sogandugu, Ndugusiga, Mamba, Iguwagitapa, and Yokatapa.

 

After an armed altercation in Sogandugu, the 29-year-old and dozens of her neighbors left home and stayed in Ndugusiga Parish church. But they still felt unsafe there, so they walked to Titigi Parish, where they stayed for three days. “I left Ndugusiga because I feel unsafe with the military presence there,” she said.

 

So, she and others from Ndugusiga moved to Bilogai, Bilal, Gepelo until they reached Enarotali, the center of Paniai Regency.

 

From Paniai, she and nine relatives rented a car and went to Nabire. They reached Nabire on Jan. 1, 2020. Since then, she lived in Nabire with dozens others, depended their basic needs on the charity of relatives and other people.

 

“We don’t live in one place here. We are scattered in our relatives houses. There were displaced people who were sick and dead. We really need food and clothes. We don’t have anything here and we are scared,” she said.

 

A 40-year-old man, another displaced person from Kampung Ndugusiga who requested anonymity, said he stayed in Nabire after reaching the regency on a motorcycle under the rain. He gathered his courage to go by a motorcycle after he moved around several locations: Beoga, Pugisiga, Kulapa, and Jaindapa.

 

He went back to Ndugusiga once, only to find the kampung empty. He went to Titigi but he was scared after finding out that the TNI were sweeping the area to look for “a new face” in Titiga. So he brave the route, riding a motorcycle to Nabire.
“All I want is to return to my kampung. I plead to Papua Governor [Lukas Enembe] to let us return home. But before that, you should make sure the security personnel are gone from the kampung,” he said.

 

Another displaced person, an 18-year-old man, said he spent six months in Titigi, Intan Jaya and he witnessed how the TNI took all the lights, given from the government, from the residents’ houses. He testified that TNI soldiers damaged people’s belongings in their house.

 

The TNI also pulled out wooden fences surrounding the people’s vegetables patches to make them as wood for burning. He was scared to go back to empty Ndugusiga, but he also was scared of staying in Titigi because some TNI soldiers had occupied two houses in Titigi. So he decided to go to Nabire.

 

One of the displaced people said she wanted to go home along with her neighbors in Ndugusiga but they were afraid of the military presence there.

 

The residents did not just leave the comfort of their home but also had to leave their field, losing their access to their livelihood. The children also did not go to school and bureaucracy also hampered them from getting easy access to health facilities outside their regency.

 

The Humanity Team documented that the civilians had to bear the greatest burdens of the armed conflict, meaning the security personnel failed to give security to the people.

 

Despite the many cases in Intan Jaya, only one of the cases got a legal treatment: the arson in Taundugu. The Army’s military police had named eight Army soldiers as suspects for the arson.

 

The arson was part of the series of events that happened in Hitadipa on Sept. 19, 2020. The location of the arson, a house where several civilians lived, was near Zanambani’s pig pen in Bomba, more or less 1 kilometer.

 

The latest news on the eight suspects were on Dec. 23, 2020.

 

Up until this article was published on Feb. 25, 2021, the military police had yet to announce teh result of the investigation into Zanambani’s killing.

 

Reporter: Victor Mambor

 

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