Papuan Pastor Allegedly Killed by an Indonesian Soldier

11/03/2020 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – According to an independent investigation, a soldier from the Indonesian Army tortured and shot dead a 67-year-old Protestant pastor, during a search for missing weapons and the whereabouts of separatists last September in Indonesia’s restive Papua province.

Pastor Yeremia Zanambani was found dead with gunshot wounds in a pig shed in Hitadipa, Papua on September 19, 2020, sparking outrage and pressure from church groups for an investigation.

Indonesia’s human rights commission (Komnas HAM) issued a report on Monday, calling the killing as “extra-judicial.” Wounds from a sharp weapon were also found on the pastor.

“[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,” Mohammad Choirul Anam, a Komnas HAM commissioner, told journalists on Nov. 2.

Anam added the soldier named Alpius Hasim Madi shot the pastor while attempting to collect information about a missing weapon believed to have been seized by pro-separatist rebels from the soldier who was shot dead earlier.

Pastor Yeremia became a victim since the military suspected his involvement in the separatist groups. His killing was not an isolated case. Two Catholic catechists were also killed in October after being accused of being separatist rebels, a version of events rejected by the local Catholic Church.

Along with the report, Komnas HAM made a recommendation to President Jokowi and the security minister that along with finding the culprits, witnesses should be protected and efforts made to ensure a less security-driven approach to policing the area.

Indonesia’s resource-rich Papua has seen a long-standing conflict between security forces and separatist groups since its absorption into Indonesia in 1969. Beginning fall 2019, there have been a series of protests and clashes between the Indonesian Army and the separatist groups, sending tens of thousands fleeing.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org.

ICC is on a mission to help persecuted Christians. Will you join us?