The relatives of the victims of the Paniai Massacre of 2014 have signed a joint statement letter (see photos below, source: JPIC Kingmi Papua) in which they declared their rejection of the law enforcement process at the human rights court in Makassar. Previously, the Attorney General’s office had identified a single suspect only in the case, which caused public outrage among West Papuans and human rights observers. The letter is addressed to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR), the Pope, the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Parliament of the European Union (EU), the Indonesian Government as well as international human rights organisations and the media.
The relatives feel disappointed about the investigation under the leadership of the General Attorney’s Office (AGO). They consider the findings by the AGO’s investigation team do not match the facts on the ground. Prior to the AGO‘s investigation, Komnas HAM and the police conducted an independent investigation questioning 57 witnesses. However, the results of both investigations were not considered by the AGO’s investigation team. The relatives declared, that the identification of a low-ranking military member as the only suspect in the case does not mirror the reality on the ground. They understand the outcome of the law enforcement process as proof of the government’s lack of sincere commitment to settling gross human rights violations of the past.
Civil society groups and the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) concluded that the security forces opened fire at the crowd of people from at least five different directions. Four minors were killed and 21 protesters injured during the crackdown. The torture of a minor on 7 December 2014 which triggered a mass protest at the Karel Gobai field in Enarotali Town the following day, was never subject of the investigation and the perpetrators continue to enjoy impunity.
The relatives expressed their views and hopes on four points. They
- reject the Government’s attempt to use the 2014 Paniai Case to whitewash its human rights image in the international community and do not acknowledge the human rights court in Makassar, where the trial will be held;
- reject any further involvement in the law enforcement process through the human rights court in Makassar because the outcome of the investigation does not correspond with the reality on the ground;
- reject the involvement of any person claiming to represent the killed or injured victims in the trial at the human rights court in Makassar;
- assess that the identification of a single suspect and the processing of the case at the human rights court in Makassar do not lead to the enforcement of justice and truth for the victims and their relatives but primarily serve the securement of Government interests.
The human rights case occurred in the Paniai Regency on 8 December 2014. Joint security force members opened fire at a group of Papuan protesters, resulting in the death of four minors and leaving 21 protesters injured. One of the victims, Mr Yulius Yeimo, passed away on 1 April 2018 due to multiple health problems which he sustained after being tortured by members of the military in relation to the incident.
On 3 December 2021, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) gave the official order to form a team of 22 prosecutors under the lead of the Deputy Attorney General for Special Crimes to investigate allegations of gross human rights violations in the Paniai regency, Papua Province. The investigators claimed they examined seven civilians, eighteen police officers and 25 military personnel.
In early April 2022, the chief investigator of the Attorney General’s Office published the outcomes of the investigation into the case. According to the spokesperson of the Attorney General’s Office, a military member with the initials IS has been identified as a suspect and will stand trial before a human rights court.
Settlement of gross human rights violations
Apart from the 2014 Paniai Case, the Attorney General also instructed the team to accelerate the processing of other allegations of gross human rights violations in Indonesia. Ali Mukartono, the lead Deputy Attorney General for Special Crimes, explained that his team will also follow up on the Indonesian mass killings of 1965-66, the Petrus killing (1982-85 Mysterious Shooting), the 1989 Talangsari case in Lampung, the tragedy at the Aceh Geudong House 1990-99, 1997-98 activist kidnappings, the Trisakti shootings, Semanggi shootings, the May 1998 riots, and the 1999 Simpang KKA case.
Since 2002, the twelve case files have been passed back and forth between Komnas HAM and the Attorney General’s office without making any progress in the prosecution of the perpetrators.