A pastor and Bible translator in Papua was tortured and shot by an Indonesian soldier in September, according to an independent investigation.
Reverend Yeremia Zanambani, 67, of the Gospel Tabernacle Church of Indonesia (GKII) in Hitadipa, was killed on September 19. His wife found him by the family’s pig pen, with gun shot wounds. He had also been stabbed in the back and one of his hand’s “was almost cut off.”
The findings of Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), contradicted previous claims by a local military commander that Zanambani was killed by a separatist group who protest Papua’s rule by Indonesia.
“[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,” said Mohammad Choirul Anam, a Komnas HAM commissioner.
The 67-year-old pastor, who was known for translating the Bible into Papua’s Moni dialect, was among several people being questions about stolen military weapons. According to CNN Indonesia, the pastor’s final words were “I am a servant of God.”
The tension between Indonesian authorities and Papuan people traces back to Indonesia’s shift, during the 1960s.
His death came after several days of clashes between military and insurgents had left two soldiers dead. During the past few months, violence has increased between these opposing forces.
Indonesia’s Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea. The independent nation of Papua New Guinea occupies the eastern half. The tension between Indonesian authorities and Papuan people traces back to Indonesia’s shift, during the 1960s, from being a Dutch colony to an independent state.
The indigenous population of Papua wanted to form its own nation but a controversial “sham” referendum in 1969 resulted in Indonesia remaining in control of the province. Papuan people believe racism exists towards them at social and governmental levels, and various separatist groups oppose the authorities.
The Morning Star flag of West Papua was recognised by the Dutch Government in 1961, as a symbol of emerging independence as its own nation. Its design represents “the light and the hope for a new dawn and a new era.”
In the Bible’s final chapter, Revelation 22, Jesus Christ refers to himself as “the bright Morning Star” (verse 16) in light of a new world order of restored relationship with God.
As Eternity reported last year, Christians in Papua cried out for peace, following an escalation of race-related violence linked with who governs the province.
The report into Zanambani’s death has been presented to Indonesian President Joko Widodo. A military spokesman has said any officer found guilty will be punished, once ongoing investigations have been concluded.