12/11/2020, 16.16
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Papua’s Catholic priests call for dialogue between the government and separatists

by Mathias Hariyadi

In their plea on Human Rights Day, the clergymen urge the parties to work towards social reconciliation and an end to the violence. They also call on the Bishops' Conference to be more active. For Card Suharyo, the Church has been attentive and shown compassion for the Papuan people.

Jayapura (AsiaNews) – Catholic priests in Papua province released a statement calling for a peaceful solution to the conflict between Indonesia’s Armed Forces and local separatist groups.

Their plea comes in a pastoral letter published yesterday, Human Rights Day. In it, the Papuan clergymen note that the use of force generates only violence and death, without achieving fruitful results.

“It is better to engage in amicable dialogue and social reconciliation to resolve problems and end the violence,” the letter reads.

After the Dutch ceded West Papua to Indonesia in 1962, pro-independence sentiments have led to tensions as the indigenous population consistently felt discriminated by the central government

More recently, fighting has intensified in Intan Jaya regency, resulting in civilian casualties, including some members of the clergy, like Rev Jeremiah Zanambani of the (Protestant) Gospel Tabernacle Church.

In addition to the calls for peace addressed to the government and the separatist forces, Papuan priests have urged Card Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, archbishop of Jakarta and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Indonesia, to speak out on the humanitarian situation in the province.

They ask why Indonesia’s Catholic Church has not dealt with the issue in a serious and scrupulous way, especially in the face of the limits imposed on the freedom of expression of the people of Papua, whose natural resources are being exploited by multinational corporations.

Card Suharyo told AsiaNews that the Bishops' Conference has never been silent on the future of Papua. In fact. “We have done several things to show our compassion for Papuans, actions that do not need to be made public,” the cardinal said

Bishop Aloysius Murwito of Agats noted that, in addition to the pastoral commitment, Card Suharyo and the other prelates have for years provided humanitarian and financial assistance to the people of the province in various areas, such as education and health.

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