INDONESIA: West Papuan church leaders seek dialogue to avoid genocide of indigenous Papuan people  14/03/2011

Church leaders issue joint statement calling for dialogue with Indonesian government

Churches in West Papua have again called for dialogue with the Indonesian government, making the case for international authorities to mediate as a third party to any future talks.  Church leaders in West Papua united to publish a Theological Declaration, saying: “As churches, we are deeply concerned over the condition of our peoples…pray for us in solidarity to make us stand firm in embracing today's challenges in Papua that are full of pain and tears.”  Their statement goes on to address various aspects of the current relationship between the authorities and the West Papua region.

Many West Papuan leaders see evidence that the population policies of the Indonesian government are leading to genocide of the indigenous people, a high number of whom profess Christian belief.  One indigenous community leader said, “It cannot be said that, according to the definition of genocide, that is what is happening [now], but the situation is moving in that direction.”

The background to West Papua's persecution

Roughly the size of Spain, and closer to Australia than to Jakarta, the mountainous region of West Papua has suffered decades of low-level conflict between the indigenous people and Indonesian security forces.  Through a government policy that encourages internal migration of ethnic Indonesians into West Papua, the Papuans feel their own ethnicity, culture and religion is being destroyed and they are fast becoming an endangered minority in their own land.

CSW's fact-finding in Indonesia

Summer 2010 saw increasing large-scale protests by indigenous Papuans, which were violently suppressed by the Indonesian military.  When CSW visited the region in 2010, one influential Christian human rights activist there asked CSW staff to urge others to “pray that the Papuan conflict can be settled with peaceful dialogue.”  CSW is supporting efforts to initiate peaceful dialogue between the Papuans and the Indonesian Government, which is key to seeing a resolution to the conflict.

I want to...

Pray

- Father, we pray for Your Holy Spirit to bring peace to West Papua, for an end to the rising tensions and for a just and peaceful solution to be found.

- Pray for Indonesian officials in West Papua, that they would realise their internal migration policies are making the Papuans an ethnic and religious minority in their own homeland.

- Pray for all those in West Papua who have suffered from the violence, that God would heal them physically and spiritually.

- One activist asked for prayer for peaceful dialogue between the Papuans and the Indonesian Government. CSW is supporting efforts to enable this, which is key for a resolution to be found.

- Please pray for CSW advocates working on Indonesia that they would be able to continue their active support of Christians there, and be a force for justice and truth in Indonesia.

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Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a human rights organisation which specialises in religious freedom, works on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs and promotes religious liberty for all.

For more information, please call 0845 456 5464, email admin@csw.org.uk or visit www.csw.org.uk