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Indonesian Bible translator tortured and shot dead by army, report claims

by Will Maule
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Source: Twitter

An Indonesian pastor and Bible translator had been tortured and killed at the hands of the military, according to a new report by the country's human rights commission.

The commission, Komnas HAM, said that a fact-finding mission had determined that in late September, the military likely tortured Yeremia Zanambani, the pastor of the Gospel Tabernacle Church of Indonesia (GKII), in a bid to extract information about stolen military weapons.

The 67-year-old minister was discovered by his wife lying in a pigsty with gunshot wounds and his left arm almost completely severed.

The report described the murder as an “extra-judicial” killing. "[The findings] are based on the dying man’s account given to at least two witnesses before he died that he saw the soldier at the crime scene along with three or four other soldiers,” a Komnas HAM commissioner, Mohammad Choirul Anam, told UCA News. “The death of Reverend Yeremia Zanambani was caused by a series of acts which led to an extrajudicial killing." 

The killing took place amidst an increase in tensions between the military and separatists across the Papua region. Each side has blamed the other for Zanambani's death, which occurred days after the killing of a soldier and civilian in the area.

Komnas HAM urged that any witnesses in the case should be protected, and called on the authorities to move away from security-driven policing. 

Beka Ulung Hapsara, another commissioner at Komnas HAM, explained to Reuters that civilians have "become victims after being suspected of joining separatist groups by the TNI (Indonesian Army) or the police". It has also been reported that the pastor's killing caused some 1,100 local residents to flee the area, with one member of the Papua Humanitarian Team saying that civilians were terrified that "such a respected clergyman can be killed with impunity."

In response to the killing, the Indonesian Communion of Churches called on Indonesia's President to open a formal investigation, while a military spokesman insisted that an inquiry had already been launched and vowed to punish any officer found guilty of the crime. 

Rev Jacklevyn Frits Manuputty, general secretary of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, said they will "continue to push the government to resolve this case as it can pave the way for other investigations into unresolved cases in the region". 

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