Jakarta – The Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) has urged President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to order a thorough investigation into the recent fatal shooting of Papuan pastor Yeremia Zanambani in Hitadipa district of Intan Jaya regency, Papua, allegedly committed by personnel of the Indonesian Military (TNI).
Citing reports from leaders of the Indonesian Evangelical Christian Church (GKII) and local media in Papua, PGI chairman Gomar Gultom alleged that Yeremia was shot by TNI personnel when he was on his way to his pig pen on Saturday, at the same time when a military operation reportedly took place.
"I strongly condemn the shooting that killed pastor Yeremia Zanambani," Gomar said on Monday.
Gomar said the reports that the PGI had received differed from the account of the military, which published a statement on Sunday saying Yeremia had been shot by an armed criminal group in the area.
The GKII, PGI executives and figures of the Moni tribe in Papua – an indigenous group from which Yeremia hailed – were currently probing the incident, Gomar said.
He added that the PGI had sent a letter to Jokowi urging him to take action in the matter. "We have sent a letter regarding this matter to the President [on Monday] morning," he said as quoted by tempo.co.
In an official statement published on PGI's website, Gomar demanded Jokowi and the authorities bring the culprits responsible for the shooting to court.
If the investigation found TNI personnel guilty in the case, Gomar said he wished for security forces to end all military operations in Papua.
Due to the shooting, many churchgoers were terrified and had fled from their homes to nearby forests, he added.
"Papua has long been caught in bloodstained [conflict], and all the violent and military approaches don't solve any problem in Papua. Instead, they create an endless circle of violence," Gomar added.
He further demanded that Jokowi fulfill his promises of implementing a cultural approach instead of a violent one to deal with issues in Papua.
"The Papuan people and the churches in Indonesia will demand that the President stick to his word."
Gomar said he wished there would be no more casualties in Papua, adding that the key to end the conflicts in the country's easternmost region was in the hands of the President, with the support of the commanders of the National Police and the TNI.
In a statement on Sunday, the TNI spokesperson for the Joint Regional Defense Command III in Papua, Col. Suriastawa, said Yeremia had been shot by a "separatist group" in Papua, adding that statements accusing the TNI of being behind the incident were "slander."
"They [the group] is currently looking for a moment to attract [public] attention at the United Nations General Assembly to be conducted at the end of this month," he said.
Meanwhile, Cendrawasih Regional Military Command spokesperson Lt. Col. Reza Patria said on Monday that his team was still investigating the matter and had not yet received detailed information. (trn)