Raider 303/SSM Sinak military command members reportedly opened fire at 40-year-old Rev Paniur Tabuni and his three children while they were hunting in the forest in the Sinak District, Puncak Regency, Papua Tengah Province, on 5 May 2023. Rev Tabuni is the Secretary of the Sinak Presbytery belonging to the Papuan Tabernacle Church (Kingmi Papua) and the Principal of YPPGI Sinak Senior Highschool.
The incident occurred at 9.30 am in a forest north of the Sinak Airport. Rev Tabuni was carrying a bow and arrows as well as an air rifle, commonly used in West Papua for hunting birds. Military members intercepted Rev Tabuni and his children in the forest and immediately opened fire at them. He sustained bullet injuries on the left arm and right waist. According to Rev Paniur, soldiers kept firing at him and his children despite raising their hands and shouting that they were not associated with the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB). In the midst of this situation, Rev Tabuni and the children fled the scene running back to their house.
Rev Tabuni and his family called the Raider 303/SSM Sinak military post and reported the incident to the commander. On the way to the hospital, the family was again intercepted by Raider 303/SSM Sinak military members. The soldiers detained the family and seized their belongings before bringing Rev Tabuni to the Sinak Health Centre (Puskesmas). According to Rev Tabuni, he was treated by military paramedics only. Military personnel told the health workers to leave the treatment room during the treatment. One of the military members allegedly doubted that bullet projectiles caused Rev Tabuni’s wounds.
On the following day, military members brought Rev Tabuni to the town of Timika, Mimika Regency, where he received medical treatment at the hospital. On 8 May 2023, he underwent surgery at the Mimika General Hospital (RSUD). Doctors removed the bullet projectiles from the arm and the waist.
Rev Tabuni’s video testimony was published by Papuan news platform Jubi.
Rev Tabuni and his relatives have called for legal proceedings against the perpetrators and urged military personnel in West Papua to interact more carefully with civilians in conflict areas. The incident raises concerns about the safety of indigenous Papuans living in conflict-affected regencies like, Puncak, Nduga, Intan Jaya, Pegunungan Bintang, or Maybrat. The call for legal proceedings highlights the need for accountability and justice in West Papua.