Makassar, Jubi – The Makassar Human Rights Court continued a hearing on the alleged gross human rights violations of the Bloody Paniai on Thursday, November 3, 2022. When examined as a defendant, Maj. (Ret.) Isak Sattu emphasized he never once ordered the use of weapons against the masses.
The Bloody Paniai is an attack allegedly carried out by the Indonesian Military (TNI) against a protesting crowd in Enarotali, the capital of Paniai Regency, on December 8, 2014. A total of three students died from gunshot wounds, and another student died from stab wounds. Meanwhile, ten other residents were injured, seven of whom suffered gunshot wounds, and three others suffered bruises.
The trial consists of a panel of judges led by chief judge Sutisna Sawati with member judges Abdul Rahman, Siti Noor Laila, Robert Pasaribu, and Sofi Rahman Dewi. Isak Sattu, who was the liaison officer posting at the military command in Enarotali at the time, was charged with two offenses of crimes against humanity which carry the heaviest penalty of death and the lightest penalty of 10 years in prison.
The examination of Isak Sattu as the sole defendant took place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Papua time. Isak Sattu, wearing black pants and a batik shirt, said the attack on the crowd demonstrating at Karel Gobay Square was a spontaneous incident.
Isak testified that he witnessed the crowd gathering at Karel Gobay Square at around 9 a.m. A number of people smeared their faces with mud. They also carried sharp weapons, such as arrows, stones, wood and axes.
According to Isak, the crowd was divided into several groups, scattered in front of the East Paniai Police Headquarters (Polsek), and several others in front of the 1705-02/Enarotali Military Rayon Command (Koramil) Headquarters.
At that time, Isak and three other Koramil members met the masses and asked for an explanation for their protest. However, said Isak Sattu, the mass at that time only said that they would perform the Waita dance. “During the negotiation process, suddenly there was a shout from the crowd, ‘kill Koramil, kill Polsek’,” said Isak.
This expression sparked a mass reaction. Isak saw that things were getting out of control, and decided to enter the Enarotali Koramil yard and closed the fence.
Stones were thrown into the Enarotali Koramil yard. Koramil members took cover. Isak also took cover at the side of the wall.
While taking cover, Isak called the 1705/Paniai Military District Command (Kodim) in Nabire but was not connected. He also tried to call Kodim’s chief of staff to no avail.
He finally managed to call the Kodim’s Pas Intel and reported that the mob attacked and threw stones at the Enarotali Koramil office. Isak Sattu asked that the report be forwarded to the leadership in Nabire.
At that time, Isak saw several members of the Enarotali Koramil holding firearms. “I ordered them to secure their weapons and shoot upwards,” he said.
“I also don’t know how the weapons got out of the warehouse. Who opened it and took it,” Isak Sattu said during the trial.
The panel of judges asked whether, in such a critical and noisy situation, Isak Sattu’s orders would be heard by members of the Enarotali Koramil. “I’m sure it was heard. Because I was close to them and I shouted,” said Isak.
According to Isak, before any Enarotali Koramil member opened fire, he had heard gunshots coming from the direction of the East Paniai Police. It was then followed by other shots from the Koramil’s yard. However, Isak said he did not see which members were shooting because at that time he was busy contacting the Kodim in Nabire.
Isak’s statement contradicted the testimony of several witnesses in the Bloody Paniai trial. In the previous trial, the witness said one of the victims was shot right in front of the fence of the Enarotali Koramil Headquarters. It was the shooting that made the crowd retreat and stays away from the Koramil.
Isak said this was impossible. According to Isak, about 30 minutes after the mass at Karel Gobay Square raged, Koramil members stood in the yard and looked at the situation.
Isak said he even saw three victims being carried by several people to the flagpole. “The victims were lifted from another corner of the square. Not near the Koramil,” he said.
“If the Koramil members had shot straight, I’m sure it wouldn’t have been one victim, there would have been many. So it doesn’t make sense,” he continued.
Isak Sattu also explained the absence of Enarotali Koramil Commander Maj. Inf. (Ret.) Junaid at the time of the tragedy. He said Junaid, who at that time still held the rank of Captain, went to mourn his family in Nabire. “Before he left, he only said, ‘I want to go to Nabire and have received permission. Please see the members’,” said Isak.
It was not an order or delegation of authority but Junaid’s gesture of respect because Isak had a higher rank than Junaid.
Isak’s explanation was immediately questioned by the team of Public Prosecutors. “When the incident occurred, you were the highest rank present,” said the prosecutor.
“True. But I did not have a line of command to them. I was never a member of the Koramil,” said Isak Sattu.
Isak Sattu explained that he was on active duty in Paniai starting October 2014. Previously, he served in Intan Jaya. By the orders of the Paniai Kodim commander, he moved to Enarotali to become a liaison between the Paniai Kodim commander and officials of the Paniai Government.
In Paniai, Isak was also tasked with coordinating with three Koramil commanders. The Kodim commander then posted him at the Enarotali Koramil. There, Isak has no special office, only a small room with other members.
“My main task was with Danramil. Enarotali Koramil was not my office,” he said.
Isak Sattu also said he did not attend the morning roll call of the Enarotali Koramil led by the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of Internal Affairs (Batituud) because he was not in the Enarotali Koramil structure.
After the roll call, he and two other Enarotali Koramil members prepared to go to Madi to attend a meeting discussing Christmas celebrations. According to Isak Sattu, they would use a car belonging to Enarotali Koramil that was prepared by Batituud.
As Isak and his team were about to leave, they received information about a roadblock at the Christmas Hut in Gunung Merah. A few moments later, Isak Sattu saw a mob from the direction of Gunung Merah descend on Karel Gobay Square, which is located right in front of the Enarotali Koramil Headquarters. Isak Sattu canceled his plan to Madi.
Nearing 10 a.m., the mass started to be dispersed by the police. It was only then that Isak received information that on December 7, 2014, TNI soldiers allegedly beat a number of children guarding the Christmas Hut in Gunung Merah, which triggered the mass gathering at Karel Gobay Square on December 8.
Isak said that after the mass at Karel Gobay Square was dispersed, he and Enarotali Koramil members remained on guard in the yard. They were guarding against further attacks, although this did not happen.
The prosecutor asked whether Isak Sattu checked his weapons after the attack on the crowd on December 8. “Was there a weapon check after the incident carried out by you as the highest-ranking officer?” said one of the prosecutors.
“No, I didn’t. Because that was not my job,” said Isak.
According to Isak Sattu, on December 8, 2014, at around 6 p.m., the Kodim commander, the Danramil Enarotali, and Sub-Denpom arrived at the Enarotali Koramil. That night, the Kodim commander took command and asked for information from all Koramil members one by one.
Sattu also explained that several months after the Bloody Paniai incident he underwent an examination by the TNI. However, Isak Sattu did not know the results of the examination.
“I don’t know the results. It was all handed over to the TNI Commander. No results were given to me,” said Isak. (*)