Intan Jaya

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

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West Papua No.1 News Portal | Jubi

 

Jayapura, JubiPapuan 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 sixth from the series published in jubi.co.id.

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“If they are dead, please tell us where they were buried, so my family could mourn for them. If they are alive, please return them to us,” Pastor Yeremia Zanambani said in a firm request to those who were present in a meeting at Sugapa Police precinct on May 14, 2020.

 

Intan Jaya Regent Natalis Tabuni organized the meeting to discuss about the missing of two people who were members of Zanambani’s extended family.

 

Read also: Intan Jaya conflict (1): Risks of continued violence loom

 

On April 21, 2020, a group of Indonesian Military (TNI) soldiers sifted through kampung in Sugapa District, under the pretext of checking the implementation of Covid-19 health protocols. During the inspection, called “sweeping” in Indonesian, they arrested three civilians. They later released one person but then took two, Apinus Zanambani, 22, and Luther Zanambani, 23, to Sugapa Military Command.

 

Both never returned home up until Feb. 2021 when this article was written.

 

At first, the family thought Apinus and Luther got infected with Covid-19 and were taken for quarantine for two weeks. Throughout the two weeks, however, they did not receive any information from security personnel about the condition of Apinus and Luther.

 

After two weeks, the family came to Sugapa Military Command to find Apinus and Luther.

 

The soldiers admitted to taking both young men to the military command but they claimed they did not know the two men’s whereabouts later.

 

Read also: Intan Jaya conflict (2): Civilians become victims of TNI-TPNPB war

 

Zanambani family contacted Pastor Yeremia Zanambani, a respected religious figure in Intan Jaya and in Papua province, to ask for his help.

 

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

 

Later, regent Tabuni held a meeting, in which the police and the military met with Apinus and Luther’s relatives. Pastor Yeremia was also there. He requested firmly for the security personnel to give information on Apinus and Luther’s whereabouts.

 

“If they are dead, please tell us where they were buried, so my family could mourn for them. If they are alive, please return them to us,” he said.

 

Witnesses later recalled the moment. They analyzed and believed that Yeremia’s firm request in the meeting would lead to his death. Before he was killed, he was branded as “enemy and opponent” by the TNI, as expressed by Alpius Hasim Madi, the deputy commander of Hitadipa Preparatory Military Command. Alpius made the statement on Sept. 19 in Imanuel Church’s front yard to civilians he gathered that day, hours before Yeremia was killed in his pig pen.

 

The following is the series of events unfolding on Dec. 19, 2020 in Hitadipa acccording to witnesses interviewed by the Humanity Team on Oct. 23 and 24, 2020:

 

  • At 9 am, TNI ordered some civilians to gather at Hitadipa Preparatory Military Command.

 

  • TNI soldiers told the civilians they got two days to return TNI weapons that were taken by TPNPB on Sept. 17. If the weapons, SS1, did not turn up in two days, TNI would launch an annihilation operation.

 

  • The TNI soldiers ordered two Hitadipa men to search for Melianus Wandagau, the chief of Moni tribe in Sugapa Lama, the location where TPNPB took the weapons on Sept. 17.

 

  • At noon, the TNI ordered civilians to gather again, this time at the yard of Imanuel Church. This time, the deputy commander of Hitadipa Preparatory Military Command, Alpius Hasim Madi, addressed the people. He said the church leaders in Hitadipa did not teach the Ten Commandements to the people, which prohibited people to kill.

 

  • One of the civilians who listened to Alpius told Humanity Team that Hitadipa people regarded him as an enemy, therefore, these people regarded TNI as an enemy. “He made six statements. He said the machete lying next to Second Sgt. Sahlan [dead] body belonged to Bapa Pendeta (the pastor). He only said that, the did not mention the name. He said TNI gave an opportunity to two villages and three churches [Sugapa Lama Church, Hitadipa 1 Church and Hitadipa 2 Church] to return the snatched weapon. “If not, we will kill you all,” said the witness, quoting Alpius.

 

  • Next, this was what Alpius said, the witness told Humanity Team: My first enemy is Zimi Sani, second, Pastor Yeremia Zanambani, third Pastor Yakobus Maiseni, fourth Naomi Maiseni, fifth Amoi Wandagau, sixth, Roy Mujijau. So these six people are my enemies as long as I stay here in Hitadipa.

 

TNI, Intan Jaya
TNI personnel stand guard. Courtesy of tni.mil.id.

 

  • Other witnesses said Alpius statement scared some of the people who began to cry in front of Alpius.

 

  • Pastor Yeremia Zanambani was not present at the gathering. Since morning, Pastor Yeremia Zanambani and Mama Miriam Zoani, his wife, were going to Bomba, a hamlet south off Hitadipa. “On Saturday, on Sept. 19, [Yeremia] and I went together to the field, which is in the same location with the pig pen. [Yeremia] worked on the fences of the pig pen while I planted sweet potatoes,” said Zoani.

 

  • At 1 pm, TPNPB attacked Hitadipa Preparatory Military Command, killing First Pvt. Dwi Akbar Utomo, a soldier sent from his base in Gorontalo.

 

  • TNI tried to retaliate, hunting the TPNPB to Taundugu, a hamlet across Hiyabu River.

 

  • People who knew about the event who were interviewed by Humanity Team said the TNI tried to secure Dwi’s body. To make themselves safe, they swept the areas in the direction of the rivers’ upstream areas. “They shot their bullets [to make sure the areas were safe]. At about 2:30 pm, when they were about to get Dwi’s body, they guarded the areas. They came and burned a house [belonging to the Health Agency] in Taundugu. They came riding perhaps four motorcycles to take their friend’s body,” a witness told Humanity Team.

 

  • Intan Jaya residents interviewed by the team said some local people lived in the house that belonged to the Health Agency. The alleged arson by the TNI had made these people lose their home, education certificates, furniture, and a motorcycle.

 

  • Miriam Zoani said she and Yeremia could hear the sounds of shootings all the way in Bomba. “When we heard the shots, we entered the pig pen and closed the door. We followed what the TNI ever told us, that whenever we heard shots, we had to enter our house and locked our doors,” said Miriam to the Humanity Team.

 

  • At 3 pm, Miriam walked home from Bomba and ran into a group of soldiers at the end of the airport in Hitadipa. “At about 3 pm, I told [Yeremia] that I wanted to go home. But he said he wanted to wait for the pigs to return to the pen. He said he would feed the pigs and closed the fences, and then he would go home,” Miriam said.

 

  • So, Miriam went home alone. At the end of the airport, she ran into a group of armed TNI soldiers. “I did not know how many, I was too scared to count them. They’re many,” said Miriam.

 

  • Miriam said she was a little relieved to see that the group was led by Alpius. “Because I saw Alpius, my fear was a little bit assuaged. I knew Alpius, I regarded him as my son. He sometimes came to our house to take shower. He sometimes came to ask for vegetables, and we gave him the food. So Yeremia and I regarded him like our own child. Alpius also called me ‘mama’ and Yeremia ‘bapa’.

 

TGPF-Papua
Intan Jaya Fact Investigation Team – Document of Ministry for Law and Security

 

  • When we saw each other, he asked me: ‘Mama, did you see anyone walk on this road?’. I said I saw no one, and I told him it was only me and [Yeremia] in the pig pen. I told Alpius [Yeremia] was still in the pen to wait for the pigs to return, feed them, close the fences and then he would go home. I told Alpius that. He made sure again: So [Yeremia] is in the pen?” Miriam said.

 

  • Miriam continued her trip home. “I was being honest because that’s what my husband taught me, to answer honestly, do not deceive people. I did not add anything untrue, what I said was honest,” she went on.

 

  • At 3:30 pm, the TNI group went past Hiyabu River Main Bridge and they arrived at Taundugu, and stayed on guard there. Some locals testified to the team that they saw Alpius with three other soldiers walked in the direction of Bomba, approaching the location of Yeremia’s pig pen. “It was in the afternoon, it was still bright, at about 3 pm. So many Hitadipa residents saw the foursome came. Two stayed on guard at Jl. Induk Intan Jaya, and another two went in the direction of Yeremia’s pig pen. Many people saw them,” a witness told the Humanity Team.

 

  • At about 6 pm, Miriam went to Bomba again because Yeremia had yet to return home. “I gathered my courage and go to [Yeremia] to the pig pen. I could see the pig pen from the house, and I saw the fences were open and the day had gone dark,” said Miriam.

 

  • When she arrived in the pig pen, Miriam found Yeremia lying face down on the ground. His body was covered with blood because a bullet wound on his left arm and a stab wound on his back. Yeremia was still alive and he could tell Miriam what happened.

 

  • “His head was on the pig pen’s doorway and his feet were in the kitchen. He was lying face down. I saw a lot of blood flowing from his hand and head. I asked him, what happened? Did you cut woods and hurt yourself with an axe? He told me: No, not an axe. But the person who we usually fed, the soldier at Hitadipa, Alpius’s group came here. I raised my hands up, but they shot me in the arm and stabbed me in the back near my neck.

 

  • “[Yeremia] told me to carry him, but I could not, because I’m small. I thought, I had to get him to treat him in the house so I have to call for help. But because there were shootings since noon, people were afraid. Meanwhile, the distance between the pig pen and the house was about 1 kilometer or about 20-minute walk.

 

  • Miriam decided to go to Yulita Zanambani who lived near the pig pen. “I gave her the key to the pig pen and I asked her to come and stay with [Yeremia]. I told her I wanted to go home to call for people’s help,” she said.

 

  • Miriam went to Yusak Zanambani’s house, and she saw people stayed there quietly in fear. She asked for help to other people to help me carry my husband but they were all afraid. I was afraid too, so I did not return to the pig pen,” she said.

 

  • According to Yulita Zanambani, Yeremia died at about midnight.

 

  • On Sept. 20, 2020, at about 7 am, the former village head, Tom Kobogau and local medical worker Enos Kobogau led a group of locals to take Yeremia’s body. Locals said they asked for TNI’s permission to take the body. At the end, six locals went to fetch Yeremia’s body.

 

Reporter: Victor Mambor

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