Disappointed over Makassar trial, families of Paniai massacre victims write to UN

CNN Indonesia – December 1, 2022
Depiction of situation in Paniai on December 8, 2014 (CNN)

Jakarta – The families of victims of the 2014 Paniai massacre in Papua have sent a letter to the United Nations (UN), which has its head office in Geneva, Switzerland.

They are disappointed with the human rights trial hearings into the Paniai case which are taking place at the Makassar District Court in South Sulawesi, and are asking the UN to intervene in order to settle the case.

The letter was signed on Monday November 28 by four of the victims parents, two of the surviving victims, eye-witnesses to the incident and three lawyers representing the victims. The parents who signed the letter were Yosep Degei, Yosep Youw, Obed Gobai and Herman Yeimo.

"We the families of the four students [who were killed], the 17 victims who were injured, and the lawyers for the victims urge the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to immediately intervene [and send] a humanitarian [mission] to the land of Papua to see from up close the human rights violations which are taking place in the land of Papua", read the letter.

They also asked the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to pressure the Indonesian government, in this case the government's National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) and the Attorney General, to conduct a new investigation into the case.

The families of the victims are disappointed and dissatisfied that only one suspect has been indicted in the case, namely former Paniai/1705 District Military (Kodim) liaison officer retired Infantry Major Isak Sattu.

Moreover, as of Sattu reading out his defense on Monday, the number of suspects in the case has still not increased.

"The Indonesian government is protecting the military command perpetrators in the field and those who gave the orders [to shoot] and do not want to reveal [all of] the perpetrators", they said.

"The human rights trial in Makassar will not seriously settle the Paniai gross human rights violation case and is only a show trial", they added.

They believe that the human rights trial at the Makassar district court was only organised to build the government's image in the international community.

"This was proven during the [UN's] UPR (Universal Periodic Review) [last month] when Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly said that the Indonesian government is currently dealing with cases of gross human rights violations", they said.

Copies of the letter were also sent to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs Mahfud MD, Attorney General ST Burhanuddin and Komnas HAM.

Separately, Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) Impunity Monitoring Division head Tioria Pretty said that there was minimal involvement in the human rights trial in Makassar by the victims or civilian witnesses.

"The narrative [during the trial] has been controlled by the TNI [Indonesian military] and the Polri [Indonesian police]", said Pretty.

In addition to this, the public prosecutor's indictment was weak because it ignored that fact that the Paniai incident was related to the Matoa V security operation which was established by the Papua regional police.

The operation is suspected to have been carried out with assistance from the TNI's Cenderawasih/XVII Regional Military Command (Kodam), specifically the AVT/753 Special Team (Timsus).

According to Komnas HAM, a member of the AVT/753 Special Team unit was responsible for the incident on December 7 which led to protests by local people and the subsequent killings on December 8. So, it is impossible that there was only one perpetrator.

"The violent incidents in Paniai on December 7-8, 2014 would not have happened without the existence of the AVT/753 Timsus and the military post facilities and infrastructure to assist the Matoa V security operation", the commission said.

Earlier, Isak Sattu read out his defense speech before the panel of judges at the Makassar district court. In his speech, the sole defendant in the case claimed that he was simply a victim of slander over the incident that took place in 2014.

"I, the defendant, retired Infantry Major Isak Sattu, have loyally served the NKRI [Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia] for 37 years. I'm already old, I am 65 years old. I honestly did not commit the human rights violations which occurred during the 2014 Paniai incident on December 7 and 8. I am just a victim of slander", said Sattu during the hearing on Monday November 28.

Sattu claimed that the public prosecutor's (JPU) indictment against him is premature and has failed to fulfill the legal requirements.

"Because, I was forced to be the sole defendant among the many witnesses who were questioned. Even though there are witnesses who have more potential to be brought up as suspects or defendants, but they were not explored by the JPU's examination team", he said. (yla/DAL)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was " Keluarga Korban Paniai Surati PBB, Kecewa Peradilan HAM Berat RI".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20221201132006-12-881356/keluarga-korban-paniai-surati-pbb-kecewa-peradilan-ham-berat-ri