Pacific Anglican leaders call for West Papua action

The leaders of Anglican churches in New Zealand and four Pacific Island countries are calling for an end to human rights abuses in West Papua.

Protesters are resisting police using water cannons during a protest by mostly university students from Free Papua Organization and the Papua Student Alliance in Jakarta on December 1, 2016.
Protesters resisting police using water cannons during a protest by mostly university students from Free Papua Organization and the Papua Student Alliance in Jakarta. Photo: AFP

In a public statement on Friday, ten bishops and archbishops in New Zealand also said West Papua must put on the agenda at international forums.

The Bishop-Elect of Polynesia, which represents Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands, also signed the statement.

The Anglican leaders called on their governments to support bringing the issue of West Papua to the United Nations.

They said the sale of natural resources sourced in West Papua should be investigated and restricted or banned.

Attention on restive Papua in recent weeks has centred on the massacre of at least 16 Indonesian workers by the West Papua Liberation Army.

The Liberation Army claimed the workers were military spies.

New Zealand’s Archbishop Philip Richardson said Papuans had experienced state violence for more than 50 years and their concerns should be addressed.

But he said violence was never an answer.

“The history of change throughout the world, I mean the greatest and most effective change has been brought about through non-violent means,” he said.

“Violence is never a solution and it can never be condoned.”

Since the latter part of 2017, fighters with the West Papuan Liberation Army, or TPN, have intensified hostilities with Indonesia's military and police in Tembagapura and its surrounding region in Papua's Highlands.

Since the latter part of 2017, fighters with the West Papuan Liberation Army, or TPN, have intensified hostilities with Indonesia’s military and police in Tembagapura and its surrounding region in Papua’s Highlands. Photo: RNZ / Suara Wiyaima

In the statement on Friday, the Anglican leaders also endorsed a resolution by the Pacific Conference of Churches to send church leaders to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Nauru, Samoa and Fiji.

Mr Richardson said the visits, which would commence next year, would part of an ongoing effort to draw attention to the concerns of West Papua.

“It’s less a matter of lobbying and more a matter of working collaboratively with Pacific governments to continue to draw attention, the world’s attention, the United Nations’ attention, to the human rights abuses in West Papua.”

Source: https://www.rnz.co.nz

West Papua Liberation Army refuses to surrender

The West Papua Liberation Army is refusing to bow to Indonesia’s ultimatum and surrender.

After the Army claimed responsibility for a massacre in Papua province earlier this month, Indonesian security forces deployed extra troops to pursue the pro-independence fighters.

The search continues for four Indonesian road construction workers missing in Papua’s Highlands region after at least 16 workers were killed by the army.

A spokesman for the Liberation Army, Sebby Sambom, presented a statement saying they would continue their war against the Indonesian state until independence is achieved.

He said Indonesia has taken over the Papua region like a thief, and that it would not be right for the homeowner to surrender to thieves.

On a video posted to youtube, Mr Sambom read an open letter to Indonesian President Joko Widodo demanding that he allow a referendum for Papuans to decide whether they want to be integrated with Indonesia.

The Army has also called for unrestricted access to Papua for foreign journalists, as well as for the UN refugee agency and the international Red Cross to help take care of civilians caught up in the conflict.

Indonesia’s Political, Legal and Security Minister Wiranto has told media that the government will not enter any discussions with the Army, who Jakarta describes as a criminal group.

He said the Army had committed inhumane crimes, and that Indonesia’s government would take appropriate actions to ensure its citizens were protected.

Earlier this week, Indonesia’s military said the Liberation Army had an ultimatum to immediately surrender or be finished.

Source: RadioNZ