Marchio Irfan Gorbiano and Budi Sutrisno, Jakarta – Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko has expressed his disagreement with the National Commission on Human Rights' (Komnas HAM) recent declaration that the shootings in Paniai, Papua in December 2014 were a "gross human rights violation".
"We need to look at [the case] correctly. It must be seen properly because it was not a structured, systematic event. There were no direct orders from those in charge," Moeldoko told journalists at the Presidential Staff Office in Central Jakarta on Monday.
The incident, also referred to as the Bloody Paniai case, occurred when security forces opened fire at a crowd of demonstrators in the Karel Gobay Field in Madi district, Paniai regency, after the demonstrators threw stones at a military office. The protests were sparked by allegations that Army personnel had beaten local youths.
Four high school students were killed instantly and one died later in hospital. They were Otianus Gobai, 18, Simon Degei, 18, Yulian Yeimo, 17, Abia Gobay, 17, and Alfius Youw, 17. Twenty-one other civilians were injured in the incident.
Moeldoko, who was the Indonesian Military (TNI) commander at the time of the shooting, said that he did not think that the actions of the military personnel involved had been premeditated.
"In my opinion, what the security forces did was a sudden reaction because they were attacked, which caught them by surprise. There was no policy to do such a thing. We need to look at it carefully and not come to inaccurate conclusions," he said.
Five years after the high-school students were shot, Komnas HAM issued its findings that the authorities had carried out "gross human rights violations" by killing and persecuting civilians.
"This incident constitutes a crime against humanity," the commission's chief investigator Muhammad Choirul Anam said in a statement on Monday, as reported by AFP.
The commission interviewed two dozen witnesses, analyzed documents and visited Paniai to determine whether the military was responsible for the deaths.
Komnas HAM said it had forwarded its dossier on the incident to the Attorney General's Office (AGO) for possible prosecution.