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 sixth from the series published in jubi.co.id.
Since the Indonesian Military (TNI) deployed more personnel in Intan Jaya Regency, Papua, recurring violence happened, especially in Hitadipa, Sugapa, Ugimba, and Wandai districts.
Here are the chronology of events from December 2019 to September 2020:
The shooting of two TNI soldiers (Dec. 17, 2019)
Mid-December 2019, TNI headquarters deployed a significant amount of personnel to Intan Jaya. Residents said they saw three helicopters were readied in Soko Paki airport in Bilogai. Sugapa residents said on Dec. 14, 2019, at 6 pm they saw a helicopter flying above Yokatapa and Bilogai in Sugapa. The helicopter, reportedly bringing security personnel, returned to the airport several times until Dec. 16, residents said.
Papuan Customary Council second secretary, John NR Gobai said the deployment in a big scale happened in several regencies in Meepago Customary Territory (Intan Jaya, Paniai, Dogiyai, Deiyai) on Dec. 13 and 14. On Dec. 13 he received reports there were at least four batches of personnel riding an Air Force helicopter. Another report said five trucks of military personnel departed Nabire and went into the direction of Dogiyai, Paniai, and Deiyai.
Even though residents claimed they witness the deployment of military personnel in mid-December 2019, Antara news agency published TNI spokesperson Maj. Gen. Sisriadi’s statement who said that Papua province did not have more deployment for Christmas and New Year celebration. They would secure the province using the personnel already stationed in Papua. Meanwhile, Papua Police spokesperson Sr. Come. Ahmad Mustofa Kamal denied the police deployed any personnel to Intan Jaya.
Humanity Team found it difficult to get clear information about deployment inn Intan Jaya, whether there was any deployment or not or whether it was from other regencies in Papua province or from outside. The team also found it difficult to identify thedivision of job descriptions between different military authorities: Cendewarasih Military Command, 173 Resort Military Command or the United Defense Area Command (Kogabwilhan) II.
But the team had an indication that the military operation in Intan Jaya was more under the authority of the newly established Kogabwilhan III: public communication concerning armed conflicts in Intan Jaya was mostly handled by Kogabwilhan III communication department.
For example, the spokesperson of Kogabwilhan III, Col. IGN Suriastawa made a statement following the death of Pastor Yeremia Zanambani. Suriastawa said Zanambani was shot by TPNPB.
In the past, such public statement was usually made by Cenderawasih Military Command.
The team also observed that officers from Kogabwilhan III were actively talking to stakeholders, including the Papuan representatives of National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and the government’s Intan Jaya Fact-finding Team (TGPF) . On Nov. 6, 2020, Antara news agency published a statement from an officer in Kogabwilhan III, Brig. Gen. TNI Suswatyo, who said that the TNI and the National Police would continue their law enforcement operation in Intan Jaya. “We would continue our operation until Sugapa becomes a safer place in the future. We’re not retreating, we will continue our operation there,” Suswatyo said.
The killing of Pastor Zanambani was the culmination of what was brewing before. The team identified that the first recorded and known armed conflict between TNI and TPNPB happened on Dec. 17, 2019, when a group of TNI soldiers on patrol in Sugapa was shot by TPNPB. One of the TPNBP commanders, Sabinus Waker, and spokesperson Sebby Sambom, claimed responsibility for the shooting, which killed First Lt. Erizal Zuhri Sidabutar (a Special Army Corps or Kopassus soldier from Jakarta) and Second. Sgt. Rizky Ramadhan (also a Kopassus from Jakarta).
On Dec. 20, 2019, Intan Jaya Regent Natalis Tabuni asked TPNPB and TNI to both retreat from Intan Jaya. Tabuni made an official letter to request the military and police headquarters to pull the personnel from the regency.
“Lately, unrest happened. This disturbed the peace we should have had in welcoming Our Savior, Jesus Christ. To stabilize the security in Intan Jaya during Christmas celebration in 2019 and to welcome the New Year’s of 2020, I firmly request TPNPB and TNI to leave Intan Jaya this instant,” Tabuni wrote.
Armed altercation between TPNPB and TNI and the police on Jan. 26, 2020
Shootings happened in Ologotugapa, a hamlet near Holomama in Kampung Mamba, Sugapa District, on Jan. 26, 2020. In that incident, a civilian identifeid as Alex Kobogau, 28, died. The head of public communication department at the National Police at that time, Sr. Comr. Asep Adi Saputra said Alex died after the crossfire. The security personnel claimed that Kobogau was a TPNPB member, but locals claimed he was a civilian, not TPNPB.
On the same day, a child, Jakson Sondegau, 8, was shot in his stomach when he was playing at his house which was located near Yokatapa Military Subdistrict Command. In Yokapata, another child, Yopi Sani Yegeseni, 14, was reported to get tortured. The team did not receive report who shot Sondegau and who tortured Yegeseni.
The shootings of Melki Tipagau and Kayus Sani on Feb. 18
TNI claimed there was an armed altercation between TNI and TPNPB in Kampung Gulanggama and Japaro housing complex on Feb. 18 last year. Cenderawasih Military Command spokesperson Col Eko Daryanto said TNI saw a group toting two “fire weapons” so TNI attacked the group. Eko said a member of TPNPB named Melki Tipagau died in the shooting.
TPNPB spokesperson Sebby Sambom denied that they were involved in any armed altercation with TNI in Gulanggama. Sambom said TNI shot four civilians, not TPNPB members.
Another source said that Melki Tipagau was a 12-year-old boy.
The source said another resident, named Kayus Sani, 51, died after being shot in his house. Kayus Sani was a member of Church Executive Board in Gulunggama, Bilogai Parish, Timika Diocese. Melki and Kayus were dead when TNI sifted kampung to find weapons in Gulangama and Japaro. Two other residents were injured in the incident, named Heletina Sani (mother of Melki Tipagau) and Malopina Sani, 11.
Humanity team did not receive detailed information surrounding Heletina and Malopina’s injury.
The shooting of two medical workers in Wandai in May 2020
On May 21, 2020, Heniko Somou adn Alemanek Bagau took medical supply in Pharmacy Warehouse belonging to Intan Jaya Health Agency in Yokatapa, Sugapa District. The following day, they brought the supplies to Wandai District. On May 22, 2020, at about 6:40 pm, the Media Center of Covid-19 Task Force received a report that Somou and Bagau were shot by unidentified assailant.
Papua Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. AM Kamal said the shooting happened after Somou warned residents in Kampung Mbugulo market that a group of TPNPB members came from Ndeotadi District to Wandai. TPNPB heard about Somou’s warning and they hunted him. Kamal said Somou tried to hide in Bagau’s house but TPNPB shot at Somou. Bagau, who tried to help Somou, was allegedly tortured and shot by TPNPB, Kamal went on. Somou died while Bagau survived the event.
A Catholic priest at Bilogai parish, Yustinus Rahangiar, told Humanity Team in November 2020 that Somou and Bagau were health workers in Wandai District. “I did not know [Somou] too close, but Bagau had been a medical worker in Wandai District for quite a long time. [Bagau] was known by a lot of people in Wandai. He came to Bilogai parish half conscious. We brought him to a health facility in Bilogai,” Yustinus said.
Yustinus said after the shooting, all public activities in Wandai were halted until the time when Humanity Team interviewed him in November.
TPNPB spokesperson, Sambom, denied that TPNPB shot the two medical workers. But later, a video circulating, containing TPNPB members claiming they shot the medical workers. They sid they shot the two men because they believed Bagau and Somou were spies for the security personnel.
TPNPB shot a civilian named Yunus Sani. The murder was reported by Catholic priest Niko Wakey, who heard shots when he stopped on the street to repair his motorcycle in Kampung Mbugulo, Wandai District. Niko approached the source of the sounds and met three people who claimed to be members of TPNPB. He also saw Yunus Sani’s body. The three men let Niko carry Sani’s body if he wanted. But Niko was scared so he chose to continue his journey.
The following day, Niko visited the location to take Sani’s body. He met TPNPB members again who accompanied him from Kampung Magataga to a location across Kemabu River. The soldiers let Niko and locals to take Sani’s body to Kampung Mamba in Sugapa District.
TPNPB spokesperson, Sebby Sambom, said they were responsible for the killing, claiming that Sani was a spy for Indonesian security personnel. “He had a gun and a handy talkie and a membership card of Merah Putih Front”. That’s why we shot him dead. We had known Yunus Sani for a long time, he worked for TNI and the police as a spy during a battle in Intan Jaya in 2019,” said Sambom.
The shooting of La Ode Anas Munawir and Fathur Rahman, Sept. 14
TPNPB was reported to shoot La Ode Anas Munawir in Bilogai, Sugapa District, and got injured on his shoulder. He received treatment in Yokatapa community health center in Sugapa. Suarapapua.com said he was shot in his stall in Tigamajigi in Kampung Bilogai in Sugapa District.
TPNPB also shot another man, an motorcycle taxi (ojek) driver, Fathur Rahman, 23, on the same day. Fathur’s attacker shot him from a higher place after he finished taking his passenger from Kampung Titigi in Sugapa.
The killing of Ahmad Baidlowi and Chief Sgt. Sahlan, Sept. 17, 2020
On Sept. 17, 2020, Ahmad Badlowi’s body was found behind YPPK Santo Misael Bilogai Elementary School in Sugapa. He was found with his left hand severed from his body and reportedly died after losing a lot of blood.
A shooting occurred at 2:20 pm when TPNPB shot a group of TNI soldiers who were on their way from Sugapa to the Preparatory Military Command in Hitadipa. The group members were riding motorcycles and TPNPB shot them, killing a TNI soldier, Chief Sgt. Sahlan. TPNPB took Sahlan’s weapons, an SS1.
Sahlan’s death marked a new chapter in the string of violent events in Intan Jaya.
Reporter: Victor Mambor