The Commander of the Army Military Police, Dodik Widjanarko, has promised to settle multiple human rights violations related to ongoing military operations in the Papuan highland regency of Intan Jaya. During a press conference held in Jakarta on 23 December 2020, he informed the public about the current status of law enforcement operations in four cases of human rights violations in Intan Jaya. The military police have launched investigations into (1) the arson of government health facilities in the Hitadipa district on 19 September 2020, (2) the shooting of catholic catechist Agustinus Duwitau on 7 October 2020, (3) the enforced disappearance of Luther Zanambani and Apinus Zanambani on 21 April 2020 and (4) the torture and extra-judicial execution of Rev. Yeremia Zanambani on 21 September 2020. Widjanarko emphasised that all military law enforcement institutions will settle the cases following legal provisions and applicable procedures. He promised that the military would ensure full transparency in all law enforcement processes.
Human rights defenders reacted sceptical towards the announcement by the military police. Too many past cases of human rights violations processed on military courts only resulted in disproportionately lenient sentences for the perpetrators. They failed to bring justice and restitution for the victims. Papuan lawyer and director of the ‘Association of Human Rights Lawyers for Papua’ (PAHAM Papua), Gustaf Kawer called the press announcement another attempt by the military to shift the legal process to the military jurisdiction instead of settling the cases through national human rights mechanisms. According to Kawer, the National Human Rights Commission was too slow to process Intan Jaya cases; hence the military stepped forward to take over the process. Human rights defenders fear that the initiative is part of the military’s strategy to pave the way for impunity among army members.
Arson of health facilities in Hitadipa District
According to the press release, the military investigators interrogated eleven army members and the Health Department Head in Intan Jaya. Based on the investigation, the military police initiated a law enforcement process against eight military members. Five of them have been taken into custody in Nabire while three other suspects are currently participating in a military operation and have not been questioned yet. The military police submitted the case files of five suspects to the IV-20 Military Oditur in Jayapura.
Shooting of a catholic catechist
The military police commander Widjanarko explained that his men had not found evidence confirming severe injuries or remains of bullet projectiles. The victim, Agustinus Duwitau, had left the hospital without completing administrative and medical requirements, said Widjanarko. Moreover, Duwitau did not file an official complaint and did not appear at the military police after being summoned; hence the military police did not investigate the incident, yet.
Enforce Disappearance of two Papuans in Sugapa
The military police investigation concluded that multiple army members arrested and reportedly tortured Luther Zanambani and Apinus Zanambani. The soldiers suspected them to be members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB). Both victims died as a result of the injuries sustained during the torture. Subsequently, the perpetrators burned the bodies at the Yonif PR 433/JS Kostrad military base and disposed the ashes into a nearby river.
The military police examined 19 military members and initiated a law enforcement operation against nine of them. Three other suspects are currently under investigation. They have to stand trial for alleged violation of Article 170 of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) on collective violence against persons or objects, Article 351 KUHP on violence resulting in death and Article 181 KUHP on deliberate disappearance of bodies to cover a death. The military police did not use Article 340 KUHP on premeditated murder, which carries a maximum life imprisonment sentence and even capital punishment.
Torture and extra-judicial execution of Rev Yeremia Zanambani
According to the press release, the military police examined 14 Kodam XVII/Cenderawasih army members and summoned 21 non-organic Yonif R 400/BR military members. They shall be interrogated in early February 2021.
The victim’s relatives have declared through their lawyers, that they reject any attempt to process the torture and killing of Rev Yeremia Zanambani in a military tribunal. They demand the case to be settled through the national human rights mechanism, involving the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), the Attorney General and a human rights court.