Protesting sole defendant, families of Paniai victims refuse to attend Makassar trial

Republika – August 18, 2022
Families bury victims of mass shootings in Paniai – December 2014 (Jubi)

Rizky Suryarandika, Jakarta – Human rights activist and lawyer for the families of the victims of the 2014 Paniai massacre in Papua, Younes Douw, has revealed the reluctance on the part of the families to attend the human rights trial hearing the case. The families object because only one person has been declared a suspect.

Douw said that in principle, the families of the victims do not reject the trial, which is being held in the South Sulawesi provincial capital of Makassar, but they have underlined their objection to the sole defendant in the case.

"The families of the victims oppose IS being the only suspect because it doesn't fit with the facts on the ground", said Douw during a webinar in Jakarta on Thursday August 18.

Based on this, Douw stated that the families would not attend the trial in Makassar because they object to and are shocked that right from the start only one person was declared a suspect.

"The families of the victims will not take part in or be witnesses at the human rights trial proceedings in Makassar because there is only one perpetrator, yet [the law on] human rights courts is very clear that perpetrators of human rights violations are systematic", said Douw.

Douw is convinced that there should be more than one suspect in the case and alluded to the chain of command in the structure of gross human rights violations.

"The unit which was involved in this case should be involved starting from senior officers down to the field executors. Only after this will we take part in the human rights trial", said Douw.

Douw will also raise an objection if in coming days there are parties which claim to be families of the Paniai victims. "[Regardless] of anyone acting in the name of the families, we will not take any part in it", said Douw.

On the other hand, Douw has no objections to the Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK) carrying out its faction of protecting witnesses and victims. He feels that this is the state's duty. "On the protection of witnesses and victims, please go ahead, that's the state's duty", he said.

Douw's message is that he hopes that justice be upheld on this earth without discrimination. He does not want to hear the term second-class citizen because all Indonesian citizens are born equal before the law.

"Apply justice and the truth, don't discriminate against skin color", said Douw.

On April 1, investigators from the Deputy Attorney General for Special Crimes (Jampidsus) declared IS as the sole suspect in the case. IS is a retired member of the Indonesian military who was a liaison officer at the time of the bloody Paniai tragedy in 2014.

IS has been charged with being accountable for four people being killed and 21 others being injured during a demonstration in Paniai. According to an official release, IS has been indicted under Article 42 Paragraph (1) in conjunction with Article 9a in conjunction with Article 7b of Law Number 26/2000 on Human Rights Courts.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Keluarga Korban Kasus Paniai Tolak Hadiri Sidang".]