» 06/13/2012, 00.00
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.
- After days of silence, dozens of Catholic and Protestant religious leaders in
Papua, along with fellow Muslims, have denounced the inaction of the central
government in Jakarta, unable so far to stem the tide of violence in the province.
In the last two weeks alone, clashes and ambushes have killed at least eight
people, but the toll is still provisional. Known as "Dutch New
Guinea" in the days of colonialism, Indonesian Papua is a resource rich
region, but is still underdeveloped and poor compared to the rest of the
archipelago. The regioni s also plauged by tensions - which leads to violence -
between the authorities related to the central government and movements
claiming an ever greater territorial self-government.
The Islamic-Christian activists gathered in the offices of the Diocese of
Jayapura on June 10 last year and, after the meeting, they decided to take a
firm stand against the perpetrators - so far unpunished - of violence. The
closed door meeting was also attended by the local bishop, Mgr. Leo Laba
Ladjar, also "concerned" about the escalation of fatal accidents. The leaders of the
interfaith committee also encouraged the promotion of a culture of love and
respect among the different ethnic groups that characterize the province of
included Pastor Albert Yoku, head of the synod of the churches in Indonesia,
the Rev. Lipiyus Binilux, the Reverend Herman Saud and other Muslim leaders,
including Abdul Dudung Koha, Jayapura section of the Indonesian Ulema Council
(MUI) . Basimo, a local Muslim leader, spoke to AsiaNews of
the need to "nurture a culture of love and tolerance" but also warns
that "it is better not to go out at night, unless absolutely necessary
" until that the situation will improves.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian intelligence chief, General Norman Marciano, points
the finger at the "separatist groups", he claims are leading of the
wave of violence in Papua in recent weeks. Among these there is also the armed
independence movement for a Free Papua (OPM). However, the group leader Lambert
Pekikir rejects these accusations and claims that he does not know anything
about "alleged shootings." The tension is likely to rise in the
coming weeks, the anniversary of July 1, when OPM celebrates their founding.
In 2001 the authorities in Jakarta granted a "special autonomy" for
the province, but its practical application has never materialized and the
indigenous people continue to report "unfair treatment". The area was the
scene of a violent military campaign in the days of Sukarno, who led the
annexation in 1969 by exploiting a United Nations Interim Directive. The iron fist used
by the Suharto regime between 1967 and 1998 and the massive invasion of foreign
multinationals and companies in Indonesia have encouraged the emergence of a
separatist movement. The current name of Papua was sanctioned in 2002 by former
president Abdurrahman Wahid.
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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.
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