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    » 02/03/2012, 00.00

    INDONESIA

    Papuan Church preparing the ground for talks between Jakarta and independence movement

    Mathias Hariyadi

    President Yudhoyono met a delegation of Catholic and Protestant religious leaders. Christian leaders appreciate the government’s moves, hoping for talks between the two sides. They have not however expressed any views about separatist demands in the resource-rich territory.
    Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Christian religious leaders in Papua are preparing the ground for “real talks” involving Indonesia’s central government and its Papuan administration with the leaders of the Papuan independence movement. Two days ago, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his ministers met Catholic and Protestant religious leaders at the presidential palace in Jakarta for the second time after a tête-à-tête on 16 December 2011.

    Once known as Irian Jaya, Indonesia’s easternmost territory is rich in natural resources. Since Indonesia started to push its claims for annexation (achieved in 1969) under then President Sukarno, it has become the scene of a violent military campaign.

    Under the repressive regime of General Suharto (1967-1998), the region was invaded by foreign multinational and Indonesian companies, sparking the rise of an independence movement that seeks separation from Indonesia.

    According to many Papuans and local religious leaders, their country has been long exploited with natives forced to stand by watching its people abused and its land stripped of its wealth, all in the name of economic progress.

    Local tribal leaders have found support in Church leaders for their struggle and rights against the system of exploitation imposed by Jakarta.

    In a press release issued by the Papuan Church Synod and the Papuan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, both Mgr Leo Laba Ladjar OFM, archbishop of Jayapura, and Rev Lipiyus Biniluk STh said that Papuan Churches appreciate President Yudhoyono’s willingness to address all Papua issues through dialogue.

    Speaking about the two recent meetings, Christian leaders said they were satisfied about the central government’s moves. Church leaders reiterated their support for dialogue, noting that their role is to prepare the ground for a “real dialogue” between government officials and Papuan leaders.

    Speaking to AsiaNews, Rev Lipiyus Biniluk STh added that the Church’s role is to promote justice and peace, setting the stage for a series of talks. However, he did not voice an opinion on the Papuan independence from Indonesia.

    Fr Neles Tebay Pr, Catholic representative in the Papuan Peace Network, an organisation promoting dialogue between Indonesian and Papuan leaders, said that they had not yet set the agenda for the talks, but “we are working on it."
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    See also

    13/08/2013 INDONESIA
    Papua: soldier damage St Mary Magdalene Parish Church
    Special Forces carried out an operation against arms trafficking for the local independence movement. The desecration took place at the end of a Sunday Mass. Catholics are surprised and bewildered by the insult. A search in the building yielded no weapons.

    31/10/2013 PAPUA NEW GUINEA - INDONESIA
    The plight of Papua refugees, "second-class citizens" forgotten by the world
    The Iowara camp hosts refugees from West Papua, who fled strife in the Indonesian province in the 1990s. After nearly 30 years, they are still without citizenship or freedom of movement, ostensibly abandoned by those who were supposed to care for them. On the ground, "The Catholic Church is now virtually left alone to cater at least for health and education". What follows is the story of a Verbite priest, involved for decades in trying to help the refugees' situation.

    13/06/2012 INDONESIA
    Violence in Papua: Christian-Muslim activists denounce Jakarta's inertia
    In the last two weeks eight confirmed dead, while the guilty go unpunished. The Bishop of Jayapura hosts an interfaith meeting, to restore peace in the province. Muslim activist: need to promote love and tolerance, but better to "stay home". Authorities and separatist leader trade accusationss.

    20/10/2011 INDONESIA
    The Indonesian govt crushes Papua’s “secession” in blood
    Two dead, dozens of wounded and injured, and scores of arrests are the result of an operation by Indonesian security forces against the Third Papuan People’s Congress. The province’s independence was proclaimed during the assembly, which picked a president and a prime minister. Yudhoyono opts for the iron fist against the separatists.

    14/01/2011 INDONESIA
    Papua: court-martial three Indonesian soldiers convicted of abuse
    Their violence captured on video. The accused charged with insubordination. More serious charge not possible because of lack evidence, says prosecutor. Human rights activists denounce: victims will not appear in court for fear of reprisals by the army.



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