Families say Paniai trial a farce, only to project good image to international community

Suara Papua – August 26, 2022
Protest at State Palace urging government to resolve Paniai tragedy – December 17, 2021 (VOA)

Markus You, Nabire – The process of uncovering the alleged gross human rights violations that took place in the Bloody Paniai case on December 8, 2014, has failed to reveal the senior officer who allegedly gave the command to shoot into the crowd, which resulted in five people being killed and 11 others being injured.

Papua human rights activist and lawyer acting on behalf of the families of the victims of the Paniai tragedy, Yones Douw, says that declaring a single suspect in the case demonstrates the state's intent to protect human rights violators.

The determination of a sole suspect by the Attorney General completely goes against the testimonies of witnesses who revealed that a senior officer was involved in the bloody tragedy at the Karel Gobai Square in Enagotadi, Paniai.

According to witness testimonies, the shooting took place after there was an order to shoot.

"Witnesses revealed that in front of the people, the military officer who was on duty at the time give the order to shoot because they suspected that the long-march by a social organisation had been infiltrated by a third party. There was a command from a superior [officer], [but] there is only one suspect. That's illogical. Do they want to hide the other perpetrators? The state must be honest and open in uncovering the bloody Paniai case", Douw told Suara Papua in Nabire on Friday August 26.

Douw said that IS, a retired TNI (Indonesian military) officer who has been declared as the sole suspect in the case, is unknown to the various parties that have conducted investigations into the case in the Paniai regency.

"The suspect IS, who was declared as a defendant in the Paniai case, who entrusted him with this role? Because we didn't find his name in the bloody Paniai case. The determination of the suspect is not in line with the facts on the ground", he explained.

IS is a retired TNI member who at the time of the incident was a liaison officer with the Paniai District Military Command (Kodim).

Douw believes that right from the start the legal proceedings onto the Paniai case have demonstrated the unfairness, untruthfulness and dishonesty of law enforcement officials.

It is because of this that the families of the victims, the victims and the witnesses in the Paniai case have refused to attend the trial at the Makassar Human Rights Court in South Sulawesi.

"The indictment of just one suspect isn't in line with the facts on the ground. The families of the victims are very angry", he said.

He also believes that the Paniai trial in Makassar will just be a farce and for image building which will in fact not provide a sense of justice to the victims and the families of the victims.

"We as the families of the victims believe that the hearings into the Paniai case are simply to project a good image in the eyes of the international community, because it doesn't fit with the factions on the ground", said Douw.

Laurenzus Kadepa meanwhile, a member of the Papua Regional House of Representatives (DPRP) Commission I, says that the position of the victims and the families of the victims in refusing to attend the hearings in Makassar have to be understood as a form of disappointment with the state which aside from taking too long to address the case has only indicted a single suspect.

In a press release received by Suara Papua, Kadepa asked that the position taken by those refusing to attend the hearings, which are scheduled to be held this month, not be ignored.

"No matter what, the voices of the victims and the victim's families must be heard by the state, in this case the Attorney General of the Republic of Indonesia", said Kadepa.

An Amnesty International Indonesia report published in 2018 titled, Don't bother, just let him die – Killing with impunity in Papua, stated that the Paniai tragedy took place when hundreds of Papuans protested near the local police and military headquarters in response to an assault by military personnel on 11 Papua children the day before, on December 7, 2015, in the Ipakiye Village, around one kilometre from the Paniai Regional House of Representatives (DPRD).

The protest action by the hundreds of people, which was accompanied by the throwing of stones and wood in the direction of the sectoral police (Polsek) and sub-district military command (Koramil) offices, was greeted by bullets being fired in the direction of the crowd. Four people died on the spot and 11 others were injured.

A number of local residents told the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) that they saw the police shooting one of the demonstrators at close range, even after they had fallen to the ground.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Aktivis HAM Soroti Negara Lindungi Pelaku Tragedi Paniai Berdarah".]

Source: https://suarapapua.com/2022/08/26/aktivis-ham-soroti-negara-lindungi-pelaku-tragedi-paniai-berdarah/