Manokwari (Agenzia Fides) - A pastoral delegation composed of three members of the Asian Christian Conference (ACC) recently concluded a visit to the Indonesian province of West Papua, listening to stories about serious violations of human rights and repression against the indigenous people. As Fides learns, the visit is part of the pastoral accompaniment of Churches and people living in vulnerable situations in Asia. During the four-day visit, the indigenous people of Papua shared stories of repression and systematic human rights violations with the delegation, including the approval of laws that suppress freedom of speech and association.
"Impunity for human rights violations on behalf of the police and the military is a matter of growing concern; the Special Autonomy Law represents a heavy failure, as it did not meet the primary needs of the indigenous people of West Papua", said community leaders and representatives of civil society in the province of Indonesian Papua, also known as Irian jaya.
"The Indonesian government systematically limits the right to freedom of press and the initiatives of the Papuans who come forward to monitor human rights violations. Many indigenous are arrested and detained for non-violent expressions of their political opinion. They constantly face discrimination and violent attacks. Peaceful demonstrations are often dispersed by force. In many cases, the participants, even if peaceful, are arrested, detained and tortured, while others are killed. Many prisoners and human rights activists died during their detention. Reports of torture and ill-treatment of political prisoners have increased. Civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights are violated".
"The visit of the ACC to West Papua was an opportunity to express solidarity with the indigenous people in the area and listen to their complaints" said Protestant Bishop Daniel S. Thiagarajah of Sri Lanka, a member of the ACC.
During the visit there were also meetings with members of the parliament of Papua, the governor's office, interactions with members of the faculty and students of the Izaak Samuel Kijne Theological College and other schools as well as with the leaders of different churches and local communities .
The delegation also went to a clinic for AIDS patients and other social centers and institutions run by Christian communities. During the meetings, the ACC delegation said that the international community should come forward and urge the Indonesian government to stop violations of human rights in the Country, respect and protect the human dignity of Western Papuans. The Conference supports fair political solutions, based on respect for the rights and dignity of indigenous peoples, and promotes a comprehensive national dialogue between Papua and the Indonesian government.
West Papua is a land rich in gold, copper, there is the tropical rainforest and the coral reef. However, most of the indigenous continue to suffer because of the confiscation of their ancestral lands; natural resources have been exploited by non-Papuans allocated through the migration policies promoted by the Indonesian government over the years.
About 80% of the indigenous Papuans, now live in poverty without access to medical care, potable drinking water or education. They are constantly under attack by security forces. At a religious level, the population is composed of Protestant Christians (53.7%), Muslims (38.4%), Catholics (7%), Hindus (0.11%) and Buddhists (0.08%). (SD) (Agenzia Fides, 13/12/2017)