Church disappointed by government silence over killing of Papuan pastor

CNN Indonesia – September 24, 2020
President Widodo waves to people during visit to Kaimana regency – October 27, 2019 (Press Bureau)

Jakarta – Tabernacle Bible Church of Indonesia (GKII) Synod Chairperson Daniel Ronda admits to being disappointed that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has yet to respond to the shooting of Pastor Yeremia Zanambani, who was shot dead near his residence in the Hitadipa district of Intan Jaya regency in Papua on Saturday September 19.

“We deplore the government’s position which up until today has yet to make any comment whatsoever about this incident. Either from Pak [Mr] Jokowi, or anyone else”, said Ronda during a virtual press conference organised by the Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) on Thursday September 24.

He said that the GKII is still of the view that the TNI (Indonesian military) is responsible for the killing of the religious leader in Papua.

Ronda explained that this suspicion will not change until there is an explanation and clarification from an investigation conducted by the government.

GKII Synod working body chairperson Andrikus Mofu took the opportunity to touch on Widodo’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday September 22 in which Widodo showed that he was very concerned about the problems in the world, including the conflict in Palestine. The Papuan people, he said, need to question this concern.

“This makes us ask our president, to what extent as the head of state [are you] responsible for resolving the problems which are currently being faced by the Indonesian people”, said Mofu, “More specifically those which are happing in the land of Papua”.

Mofu also said that the government and the Indonesian public cannot ignore the series of incidents which have claimed human lives in Papua, either civilians or TNI and Indonesian police personnel. The state needs to be serious about resolving these deep rooted problems in Papua.

“I’m reminding [the government] to immediately form an independent team to conduct a fair, balanced investigation to reveal [the truth] behind the incidents which have occurred recently in Papua”, said Mofu.

In addition to this, he added, Widodo needs to reevaluate the massive military deployment in Papua.

“I ask the government, Bapak President to immediately reevaluate it. Especially with regard to the massive deployment of troops in Papua”, said Mofu. “Which in the end have never resolved the problems in Papua”.

The shooting of Zanambani has attracted public attention because of the repeated incidents of violence which have occurred in Papua which to this day have yet to be clarified.

The TNI says that the Free Papua Organisation-West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB-OPM), which the government calls an Armed Criminal Group (KKB), shot Zanambani. The TPNPB-OPM meanwhile accuses the TNI of killing the pastor.

Cenderawasih/Regional Military Command XVII commander Major General Herman Asaribab said that he has ordered his officers to be involved in the investigation into the shooting.

The Papua regional police meanwhile have also sent a team of investigators to the Bomba Village to question Zanambani’s wife and say they will conduct a reenactment at the scene of the crime.

And it is not just the police and military. The National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) is also preparing an investigation team to look into Zanambani’s killing.

Komnas HAM Commissioner Beka Ulung Hapsara says that the Komnas HAM’s representative office in Papua has already received a complaint directly from Papuan Traditional Council (DAP) Secretary John Gobay with regard to the incident. (mjo/kid)

[Translated by James Balowski. Abridged slightly for readably. The original title of the article was” Gereja Kecewa Jokowi Belum Bersikap atas Penembakan Pendeta”.]