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194 church leaders in Papua call for end to military operations, peace talks

November 14, 2021

194 church leaders in Papua call for end to military operations, peace


Suara Papua – November 12, 2021

Atamus Kepno, Jayapura — One hundred and ninety-four Catholic leaders
from across Papua have explicitly called for an end to military
operations in Papua. The Pastors hope that dialogue and reconciliation
will be the solution to resolve the prolonged conflict in Papua.

Pastor Alberto John Bunai, Pr, said that the government was ecstatic
about the success of the 20th National Games in Papua, but the people
were deeply saddened by what was being suffered by God’s communities in
Nduga, Intan Jaya, Puncak, Kiwirok and Maybrat.

"In order to solve the roots of the problem what is needed is dialogue
and reconciliation in a dignified manner for the sake of resolving the
prolonged conflict in the land of Papua", said Bunai durng a press
conference titled a Moral Call by 194 Catholic Pastors on Thursday
November 11 at the Bright World of Christ Parish in Waena, Jayapura
city, Papua.

It is the church’s duty to articulate the cries of God’s communities who
have no voice, continued Bunai. The government must halt the ongoing
military operations which have resulted in the killing of civilians,
violence and people being displace in several parts of Papua.

"Stop the military operations. Release the civilians who were wrongly
arrested in Maybrat. In Kiwirok hundreds of resident’s homes have been
bombed by security forces. Rocket fired from the air using helicopters.
But several failed to explode. Hundreds of civilians are reported to
have fled to Papua New Guinea. There are no estimates yet on the number
of deaths and destroyed homes. Many people are sick and have died of
hunger in the forests. Right now the people need humanitarian
assistance", he said.

"The government should create peace for the sake of humanity, justice,
truth and the safety of the indigenous Papuan people", he said.

Pastor Bunai revealed that there have been around 58 ideological and
political conflicts between indigenous Papuans and the Indonesian
government, conflicts which have triggered armed violence in Papua to
this day.

"So the principle role of the Church is as the bearer of peace and
upholder of justice, it cannot be silent in the face of these realities,
we must speak out for those who have no voice", he said.

According to the church leaders, they are speaking out for the sake of
security and peace, not in the political interests of individuals or
groups or the like.

"We are speaking out because we long for an atmosphere of security, so
that there is peace, justice and harmony in the land of Papua".

They further said that because of the interests of a group of elite
involved in gold mining in Papua, indigenous Papuans have become victims
of violence and lost their communal land rights.

"Papuans just become victims or become victims in regions because of the
exploitation of natural resources without justice or transparency. As we
know from the results of research by the YLBHI [Indonesian Legal Aid
Foundation], the JATAM [Mining Advocacy Network], ICW [Indonesian
Corruption Watch], the Kontras [Commission for Missing Persons and
Victims of Violence], the Walhi [Indonesian Forum for the Environment],
the Indonesian People’s Fraction, Greenpeace Indonesia and the Sajogja
Institute", he explained.

Pastor Agustinus Yerwuan, OFM, took the opportunity to remind people
that everyone is created by God in his image and were placed on
different parts of the earth including Papua.

"Because of this all those who live in the land of Papua and all related
parties must remember this well as religious people and also as people
who are concerned about peace and love", said Yerwuan.

The Franciscan pastor hopes that all parties will pray and cooperate to
bring an end to the armed conflict in the land of Papua.

"Our hope is for prayers and cooperation between all parties, social
elements, including those with interests which often disturb security
and peace, the TNI [Indonesian military] and Polri [Indonesian police]
as well as the TPNPB [West Papua National Liberation Army] must end the
war or reach a ceasefire, then maintain a humanity which is just and
civilised in this land of Papua", he said.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was
"Ratusan Imam Katolik di Tanah Papua Serukan Perdamaian".]


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