Military member allegedly shot down Catholic church worker in Intan Jaya

Another church worker has been attacked in the regency of Intan Jaya, where repeated armed clashes between the Indonesian military and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB) have resulted in ongoing military operations since late December 2019. The victim was twenty-three-year-old catholic catechist Agustinus Duwitau. He was shot from a distance of approximately 1 km in Domonggau Village on 7 October 2020. Duwitau was carrying an air rifle at the time of the attack. Military members allegedly mistook the hunting weapon for a combat rifle and opened fire at Duwitau because they suspected him as a TPB PB member. Duwitau was rescued by a group of locals who brought him to the Intan Jaya General Hospital.

 

 

According to information received from the Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation Desk of the Papuan Tabernacle Church (JPIC Kingmi Papua), Agustinus Duwitau was, together with his younger brother, on the way back to Emondi Village, where Agustinus served his duty as catechist. Around 7.30 am, the perpetrators opened fire at the brothers from the direction of the Sokopaki Airport in the town of Bilogai, where members of the Yonif Raider 400/Brawijaya Military Unit were conducting a patrol at the time of the incident. The bullet pierced Agustinus Duwitau from the upper back to the left shoulder. He was able to escape and hide in a garden while his brother went for help. Around 1.00 pm, a group of locals and medics brought Agustinus Duwitau to the hospital for stationary treatment. Agustinus Duwitau lost a lot of blood as a result of the bullet injury and had to be treated at the intensive care unit. He was transferred to the Nabire General Hospital on the following day.

Shortly after the incident, the Regent of Intan Jaya, Natalis Tabuni, urged the people not to leave their homes after dusk and not to carry any hunting weapons, as long as the armed conflict in Intan Jaya remains tense. The military reacted with counter statements on the incident in the national newspapers. The local military commander, Colonel I Gusti Ngurah Suriastawa declared in a media interview with Okezone that his men had opened fire at two alleged TPN PB members who appeared to prepare an attack on the local airport.

Several weeks before the attack on Agustinus Duwitau, human rights defenders reported two other incidents in which Papuan pastors were either killed or died under mysterious circumstances. Rev. Yeremia Zanambani was reportedly shot dead by military members in the regency of Intan Jaya on 19 September 2020. In a second case, the 55-years-old Pastor Albert Degei was found dead in the Kalisemen village, Nabire Regency, on 22 September 2020.