Update on killing of Rev Zanambani in Intan Jaya – Fact finding team submits report to Minister Mahfud MD

The joint fact-finding team (Tim Gabungan Pencari Fakta or TGPF) which was endorsed by the Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Human Rights, Mahfud MD, to investigate the killings of Rev Yeremia Zanambani, another civilian and two military members in the regency of Intan Jaya, has submitted its report on 21 October 2020. According to the report, there were indications that military members or another third party was involved in the killing of Rev Zanambani. The other three victims were killed by members of “armed criminal groups”, said Mahfud MD. The military spokesperson, Colonel Suriastawa, said in an interview on 22 October that the military will not cover-up this case. He announced that the perpetrators will be brought to justice through the existing internal military procedures.

In addition, Mahfud declared that the TGPF report also described the lack of military institutions in many areas of West Papua. According to Mahfud, there is a need to deploy organic military units to these areas. Mahfud’s statement ignores the repeated demands by multiple stakeholders in West Papua that the Indonesian government should turn away from a security-based approach to resolve the conflict in West Papua. NGOs, churches and local government institutions have repeatedly urged the government to break through the circle of violence by entering into a peaceful dialogue with the Papuan independence movement.

Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) has also finalized its investigation into the killing of Rev. Zanambani. Komnas HAM delegated its own team to Intan Jaya after Minister Mahfud had not included Komnas HAM members in the TGPF. “Komnas HAM is currently processing the results of the investigation. The report does not only clarify who the perpetrators are […] We also want to make concrete recommendations that can be implemented. It will require a joint commitment to resolve the case of Pastor Yeremia in accordance with the principles of law and human rights,” stated human rights commissioner Choirul Anam on 21 October.

Local human rights organisations assessed the results of the TGPF as weak and insufficient. Moreover, the results of the investigation do not contribute to the law enforcement in this case because the report was only submitted to Minister Mahfud and not to Komnas HAM, as the institution holding the legal mandate to process cases of human rights violations. The NGO PAHAM Papua also criticised Komnas HAM for not establishing a Komnas HAM ad hoc team to investigate the incident as stipulated in Law No. 26/2000 on the human rights court.

The Chairperson of the Papuan Representative Office of Komnas HAM, Mr Frits Ramandey, clarified that Law No. 39/1999 on human rights requires Komnas HAM to discuss the findings of the investigation first in a plenary meeting. The plenary will assess whether the case fulfils the criteria for gross human rights violations. If the case meets these criteria, Komnas Ham RI will establish an ad hoc team in accordance with Law No. 26/2000.