Papua: Protestant pastor killed in an ambush
by Mathias Hariyadi

The motive and the authors of the attack remain a mystery. Jeremiah Zanambani was ambushed on his way to a pig farm. Protestant leader writes to the Indonesian president asking for investigation and justice. The military command accuses the local independence groups. Guerrilla activities hinder the development of the region.


Jakarta (AsiaNews) - A group of unidentified assailants, attacked and shot dead a Protestant pastor in Indonesia, identified with the name of Jeremiah Zanambani. The case is shrouded in mystery and the circumstances and motive behind the attack remain unclear.

This has prompted the general secretariat of the Synod of Indonesian Protestant Churches (Persekutuan Gereja-gereja, Pgi) today to send a letter to President Joko Widodo, asking for a team of experts to be formed and an in-depth investigation.

In the letter, also sent for information to the head of the armed forces Gen. Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto and the chief of police Gen. Idham Aziz, PGI secretary general Jaclevyn F Manuputty "strongly condemns the incident" and calls for "the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry".

Rev Jeremiah Zanambani was in charge of the Gereja Kemah Injil Indonesia (GKII) community of Hitadipa, Intan Jaya district, Papua province. He was killed last September 19 with numerous shots, while on his way to a pig farm.

A note released by the military command in Papua lays the blame on a local separatist armed group, better known by the acronym KKSB (separatist criminal armed movement). Colonel IGN Suriastawa of the Third Central Command reports that the armed movements exploit these facts as "marketing gimmicks" to discredit Indonesian authority and institutions at home and before the international community.

"As always happens - underlines the senior official - this type of events that discredit" the country occur "on the eve of the general assembly of the United Nations". In Indonesia, he continues, the question of the independence movement in Papua and its "guerrilla" activities is becoming a serious obstacle for the central government in the construction and development of the region.

Rich in precious minerals and other natural resources, the province of Papua has been the subject of a massive exploitation campaign by Jakarta in recent decades, especially during the authoritarian regime of former President Suharto (1967-1998). Under Widodo's leadership, the central government has allocated billions of dollars in infrastructure and development projects, especially roads.

The government projects are offset by the violence of separatist groups and armed movements affiliated with the KKSB, which launch assaults and targeted attacks. On December 5, 2018, at least 31 civil engineers from Jakarta-based PT Istaka Karya were subjected to a brutal attack by the KSSB while engaged in the development of the projects. The guerrillas responded by stating that the people affected were not "real" construction workers, but elements of the "undercover" army.

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