About 500 Catholics representing various organizations and parishes in Belu district, East Nusa Tenggara, staged a rally March 23 about the torture of Catholic youths which led to the death of one of them. Calling themselves the Coalition Forum of Belu People Caring for Human Rights, the activists from Atambua diocese’s Commission for Justice and Peace, the district’s Catholic Youths
(PK) and Union of Catholic Students of Republic of Indonesia
(PMKRI) and parishioners started their rally with a 1.5-km walk from the North Belu Deanery’s office to the local parliament. “We demand a transparent trial conducted in Belu and call on local government and parliament to seriously deal with this case,” Yanuaris Pareira, deputy head of the district’s PK, said in a statement. Charles Mali, 24, died on March 13 while he and five youths were detained in a military station in Tobir in the district for mugging a passing member of the military while they were drunk. Charles and his brother Hery Mali were taken to the station in the morning by their mother, Modesta Dau, for disciplinary training. Later that day, he was found dead. “We want military members involved in the torture leading to Charles Mali’s death to be fired and sentenced,” the Catholics said, asking for the withdrawal of military members based in the district. Speaking after the protest, Father Paulus Nahak, who heads the diocesan commission, claimed such violent acts were committed systematically in the station. “Prior to the case, the death victim’s parents were even brought to the station. This is out of procedure. Why don’t police deal with this case?" he asked. Reports say 24 military members allegedly involved in the case are being tried in a military court in Kupang. Also on March 23, the Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral Migrants and Itinerant People of the archdiocese of Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, held a special Mass to remember a Catholic youth’s death and to pray for others becoming victims of torture committed by military members. The commission’s head Father Aloysius Monteiro led the Mass held in Assumption of Mary Church in Kotabaru-Kupang. About 200 Catholics attended the service.