STATEMENT ON RECENT “INSTITUTIONAL RACISM” TOWARDS WEST PAPUANS
August 22, 2019
The Pacific Conference of Churches, with the Papua New Guinea Council of Churches, strongly condemns the institutional racism against the indigenous people of West (Tanah) Papua that has led to
violent attacks against Papuan Students in Surabaya and protests in Manokwari and Jayapura and led to an increase of Indonesian militarisation in Papua.
PCC General Secretary, Rev. James Bhagwan and PNGCC General Secretary, Rev. Roger Joseph who both visited West Papua as part of a World Council of Churches delegation earlier this year, said that this latest example of
oppression of Papuan people underlined the need for an urgent investigation of ongoing abuse of
Human Rights, the Economic, Social and Cultural and Political rights of West Papuans, by the United Nations.
“We are meeting in Papua New Guinea to discuss Self-Determination in terms of ecological development framework that weaves our faith, traditional values, knowledge and wisdom for the wellbeing of Papua New Guinea and also the Pacific,” said Rev. Joseph, “and our brothers and sisters in West Papua, which is part of this land and who part of our people are struggling to have basic human dignity respected.”
“In the context of last week’s Pacific Island Forum Leaders’ Meeting, this example of institutional racism against the people of West Papua, further illustrates the concerns raised about the deteriorating situation in West Papua during the Civil Society – Leaders’ Dialogue,” said Rev. Bhagwan.
“In the context of Pacific Regionalism or the Pacific Family, to call our Melanesian sisters and brothers in West Papua ‘Monkeys’ is to call all Pacific Islanders ‘Monkeys’. “
“PCC and PNGCC both recognise, that the incident in Surabaya included elements of the state apparatus and there is yet to be a formal apology from the state to both Indonesian citizens who are Papuans as well as indigenous people of neighbouring Papua New Guinea.”
“The resulting mobilisation of 1000 more soldiers of the Indonesian Army to Papua, rather than a civil response, gives cause to wonder if this was the intended result,” said Bhagwan.
“Given this week’s release of a combined report by Papuan local human rights NGOs, churches and the Nduga Regency administration on conflicts between Indonesian Military and armed indigenous groups in the Nduga region found that close to 200 Papuans, mostly women and children had either been killed or died fleeing the conflict and with 45,000 currently displaced as a result of the conflicts, how much longer are our Papuan sisters, mothers, daughters, brothers, fathers and sons going to suffer until the Pacific leaders, the UN and the world do something meaningful to address the ongoing structural violence and institutional racism by Indonesia, which is currently a member of the UN Security Council and is vying to become a member of the UN Rights Council.”
“We call on Indonesia to immediately allow access to Papua by the UN Commissioner for Human Rights and other UN mandate holders. We call on those Pacific Island countries with relations with Indonesia to leverage their relationships to make this happen now.”
“We call on all member churches of PCC and PNGCC to pray for our sisters and brothers in Papua and also for people of Indonesia for a just peace to this ongoing crisis.”
The Pacific Conference of Churches observes every Wednesday as a day of prayer for West Papua and has asked member churches to observe Sunday 15 December as Freedom Sunday for those Pacific
Territories listed for decolonisation or currently experiencing oppression and ongoing colonisation.