PASTORAL LETTER PAPUA CHURCH COUNCIL On the event of the 166 Years Celebration of the Gospel entering the Land of Papua 5 February 2021
“PAPUA PEOPLE VIEWED AS MONKEYS IN THE SABANG MERAUKE INDONESIAN NATIONAL PARK”
A Peaceful Solution to 60 Years of Racist Conflict, Criminalisation and Militarism in the Land of Papua
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.Everything is uncovered and laid bare
before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Moving two million Papuan people to Manado, North Sulawesi Hendropriyono: OPM Rebels, should be put on the Terrorist List CNN Indonesia | Monday, 23/12/2019 17:36 WIB
- On this day, from the home of our common life, we welcome the new challenges, new
choices and new problems that have come with the New Year 2021. We give thanks to God who has been with us for the first weeks of this new year. The life that we live comes from the struggles and dreams of the generations of the Church and our society that have gone before us and brought us to this day on a pilgrimage “towards God” the source of Life. In the language of the Church’s faith “we are moving forward towards a New Papua” in this Land, which has been fighting as hard as possible against “the ammunition of systemic racism” and criminalization from the early 1960s to today in 2021.
- The Arrow of Systematic Racism against Papua Year after Year and Papuans ‘ are like
Monkeys in ‘the Sabang to Merauke Indonesian National Park’.
The title of ‘Pastoral Letter’ on the event of the 166th Anniversary of the Celebration of the Gospel Entering this Land, namely ‘Papuans Are Like Monkeys in’ the Sabang to Merauke Indonesian National Park’. Are ‘Papuans’ like’ pebbles in the shoes of Kusuma Atmadja, the Indonesian Foreign Minister ‘previously in charge of affairs for Timor Leste? Why? As we enter 2021, we Papuans are “still dealing with bullets of racist speech” from state officials, which continue to paralyze the dignity of the Papuan people. The latest of these are described below.
(a) There are two programs that have recently been highlighted (early January 2021) by high-ranking military officials: Hendroprijono, former Head of BIN, former Minister in several Cabinets, a person who has a lopsided view of Papua:
(a1) ‘relocating two million Indigenous Papuans (OAP) to Manado, North Sulawesi and moving two million Manado people to Papua; thereby severing cultural and ethnic ties between ‘Papuans’ with the Pacific. And
(a2), the second program proposes to include the Free Papua Organization Rebels (OPM) on the Terrorist List, while ‘the media continues to defend the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) whose sell and buy weapons and ammunition with OPM: so there is a pet OPM and a real OPM;
(b) Pak Natalis Pigay, who has again been the target of racist speech, this time coming from a senior Hanura Party official who resides in President Jokowi’s palace.
These incidents remind us of previous incidents of systemic racist speech including:
(b1) Surabaya Student dormitory (16 August 2019).
(b2) Malang student dormitory residents and
(b3) Obby Kogoya (July 2016),
(b4) A photo of the face of Franz Kaisepo, the National hero who was been labeled a ‘Ghost Image’ on social media. At a young age, he was active in helping the Indonesian Government put the Papuan people into the bosom of the Republic of Indonesia. Check out the following racist quip: “Pak Jokowi. Who is the picture of on the money? How presumptuous of you to dare to print money like this! My son was scared to see the picture on the money, he was told to hold it, but he didn’t want to. He said “Ghost picture,” wrote the owner of the Facebook account Bayu Kumbara Arief.
(b5) Other previous victims of racist speech include: Persipura players;
(b6) Papuan students studying in Indonesia who are ‘targets of racist taunts. Where is the Indonesian State? Is it represented in Hendroprijono’s programe, a high-ranking Indonesian State official? Or Ambrosius’ brother who was the leader of the Hanura Party; the same is the case with civil organisations, the Army and the Police who ‘spread racist slurs in front of the Papuan Student Dormitory in Surabaya, on August 16, 2019, the 73rd Anniversary of Indonesian Independence?
- Since the early 1960s, the Arrow of Systemic Racism has run right through the Security Development Program. Today’s generation of Papuans who enter the year 2021 and who face racist remarks during this decade are part of the previous generations of Papuans since the 1960s. This means that today’s generation of Papuans are facing systemic racism that has nurtured the longest running conflict between Indonesia and Papua since the early 1960s. The Indonesian elite, calling this program “60 years of Indonesia” developing Papua, juxtaposed the people of West Irian with “other brothers from other provinces in Indonesia”. But, once again, this shows how cemented the ‘systemic racism is’. The Indonesian government has spread propaganda that they ‘are in West Irian to help the people of West Irian to be equal with other ethnic groups in Indonesia?’ What is their strategy? Pressuring and influencing Papuans to think, behave, dress and talk like ‘Malays’. Acub Zainal mentions several ways to do this in his book: “I love the Army”, among others:
(a) On the 2 and 3 May 1963, books on culture, history, anthropology and law were set on fire and burnt;
(b) The elites broke into houses and robbed the belongings of the Papuan elite and
removed and robbed all the belongings of the Dutch and transported them by ship outside Papua;
(c) Forcing the Papuan people to make the statement ‘we the people of West Irian are the people of Indonesia and we became independent in 1945;
(d) Introducing the ‘Koteka operation’ and forcing people to wear sarongs and songko, etc;
(e) Sending thousands of transmigrants to seize community land in the name of
(f) all these tactics were carried out accompanied by “military operations” and these were carried out to “align the people of West Irian with other tribes from other Provinces of Indonesia”. What’s behind this program from the government of Indonesia? For Indonesia, Papua is a pebble in a shoe “that they have to take and throw away?” How does the Indigenous Papuan get around this view?
- Indigenous Papuans fought back from the start: Counter-separatism ideology Due to
friction and conflict between Indonesia and Papua, the OPM was born. It must be said again that OPM was not born in a vacuum. The political game of robbery and destruction gave birth to a “new consciousness among students and the young generation” which challenged the lived reality and dynamics. Papuans have not been passive in accepting the ‘racist Indonesian development package in the Land of Papua. This friction could not be avoided, thus giving birth to the ‘OPM Rebellion in Manokwari in June 1965. Since then, Indonesia has made Papua an enemy that must be confronted, calling them Security Chaos Movement (GPK), Wild Chaos Movement (GPL), Separatists, armed criminal groups (KKB). Indonesia applies a “counter-separatist ideology”. The Land of Papua has become a Military Operation
Area. There are many problems that surround the people of this land, as a result of this. The previous generations hope for a peaceful life cannot be separated from these problems. OPM, ULMWP, the Church, KNPB, were all born in this context. The question is, what is it that we are against as Papuans and as a Church? ‘The social position that modern Indonesian society’ gives Papuans who have a separatist DNA, are ignorant, and lack culture’; even though for 60 years it has been stated that Indonesia, as in Soekarno’s speech, “has aligned the people of West Irian so that they are equal with other tribes in other provinces in Indonesia”. And this is the root of the problem.
5.Otsus 20 years ago and the unclear hope of peace in the Land of Papua. When Otsus was enforced in early 2000, a group of Papuan elites had the view that ‘Otsus is a gift from God’. Some pastors used that term then too. They hoped that special autonomy would end the Papuan conflict. But what is the reality today?
5.1. Hope for Peace through Special Autonomy and Serious Human Rights Violations in the Land of Papua twenty years ago, some of the Papuan elite “hoped that Otsus could” bring peace to Papua “. And this “hope of peace” was not formed in a vacuum. The dream was supported by the ‘Reformation that was taking place; marked by the fall of Suharto ‘. All Papuans dreamt of ‘demilitarization’ which would restore Peace to this Land. Because the Land of Papua up to the time of reform was already under the status of Military Operations Area. But is demilitarization in Tanah Papua happening? No, it is not. Look at how the Land of Papua has been turned back into ‘a military operation ground again. Why and how?
• Bloody Biak, July 6, 1998. The people there were arbitrarily arrested, beaten and shot by a combination of the Indonesian Military and Police. Due to the brutal actions of the Indonesian apparatus, not a few people became victims. It did not stop there, houses in a number of areas in the city of Biak were also not spared from being searched during the sweeping. ELSHAM noted that around 150 people were victims. Some corpses of innocent human beings were just thrown into the sea.
• Bloody Wamena, on October 6, 2000, seven Papuans and 24 migrants died. More than 5,000 residents of Wamena sought refuge at the police and military headquarters following the riots, while around 400 chose to temporarily move to Jayapura until their condition recovered.
• Bloody Abepura, which broke out on December 7, 2000 started with the attack on the Abepura Police Station by a group of residents. After this attack, the police gave chase and targeted several dormitories and civilian settlements. The dormitories that were targeted by the authorities included the Ninmin Dormitory (where the victim was, Pesut Lokbere), the Yapen Waropen Dormitory, the Ilaga Student Association (IMI) Dormitory and residential areas in Abe Pantai, Kotaraja, Skyline. During the search, it was suspected that torture and destruction of the dormitories occurred. According to Komnas HAM data, out of the 53 victims of this case four died, and several others experienced trauma and ill health, one of which was Pesut Lokbere.
• Bloody Wasior, which occurred on June 13, 2001, was one of the biggest crimes against humanity of the many bloody tragedies that occurred in Papua. Komnas HAM stated that there were a large number of victims with 4 people killed, namely Daud Yomaki, Felix Urban, Enok Maran and Guntur Samberi. 39 people were injured as a result of torture, 5 people were forcibly disappeared and a person experienced sexual violence.
• Bloody Wamena, April 4, 2003 at 01:00, in the City of Jayawijaya-Papua an incident of crime against humanity ” Bloody Wamena” occurred as a result of the raid on the weapons warehouse of Kodim 1702 Wamena. The security apparatus deployed joint military and police officers to target 25 villages for approximately three months. In this incident 9 people were killed directly and later another 38 died; 25 villagers experienced forced displacement; 42 people starved to death due to displacement and there were 15 victims due to arbitrary arrest. People were forced to sign and there was destruction of Church facilities and schools.
• Bloody Paniai, on 8 December 2014 in Enarotali district in Paniai Regency. Four (in the end 5) students were shot dead by the authorities.
All of these gross human rights violations occurred within the ‘two decades of implementation of Special Autonomy. TNI POLRI is forever “above the law”. The “Dream of Peace for the Land of Papua” has yet to come. The arrows of racism against Papua continue to be directed at all aspects of Papuan life. The state through influential state officials promoted a racist program to move ‘two million Papuans to Indonesia and millions of Indonesians to Papua’ through the decentralisation program which has been promoted in the last two years by Jokowi and Tito Karnavian, while remilitarizing Papua and keeping the fire of racism against Papua lit.
5.2. The Government Has No Political Will to Resolve the Papua Conflict: LIPI Research Papuan activists often say “racism is part of the mind of this government, so Indonesia can only rely on” muscle “. The elites put their brains aside ‘to solve the Papua problem. We can see this from the 4 Roots of Problems highlighted by LIPI to begin resolving the 60 years of ‘Papuan Jakarta conflict’. What are the 4 questions that the Government ignores?
(a) Racism which causes the Papuan people to experience systematic marginalization.
(b) The government systematically fails in development, welfare, health, and education
(c) The differing views regarding the ‘integration of Papua into the Republic of Indonesia’ which according to the Papuans was the invasion of Papua, which was already independent, 1 December 1961.
(d) Violations of Human Rights and Indonesian State Security Institutions in Papua which are above the law.
5.3. OPM Armed Conflict that continues to occur and its impact on the lives of members of church congregations In a world with such a relationship, the OPM with the weapons and ammunition they bought (from the Indonesian National Police or other parties used to defend against the conflict) often carried out attacks on army and police posts. This caused so many Papuans who fled from military operations to die.
• In Nduga since December 2, 2018, more than 400 Nduga residents have died due to
having to evacuate
• The situation of 400 other residents who have fled Intan Jaya since December 2019 has been declared unclear; and
• Around 30 Amungme residents from Banti, Opitawak and other villages near
Tembagapura who fled from the “OPM and Army/Police conflict” in early January
2020, were also reported dead, as hundreds of their residents have fled to Mimika since March 2020. What is the impact of this?
- Feelings of being humiliated, discriminated against / harassed and excluded in one’s own land by other nations for 60 years as well as other problems.
- Violence after violence continues to take place, which does not leave any space or time or energy to express the ‘feeling of loss, grief, trauma and emptiness that we felt in connection with the losses in 2020 and previous years.
- The population of Indigenous Papuans continues to decline dramatically, starving to death in front of our eyes on their rich lands, while at the same time the immigrant
population is increasing, supported by a development ideology biased by migrants.
After that, are there still humans who want to be deceived by the Republic of Indonesia with the second phase of Special Autonomy (2020-2041)? Or other similar propaganda.
5.2.3. The rejection of Special Autonomy in West Papua Province and Public Dialogue Meetings to hear Opinions from the Papuan People’s Council (MRP) which were blocked by the army and police. Taking into account the above reality: especially with regard to the ‘feeling of constantly being humiliated’, it is natural to express this view which comes from all elements of society: rejecting the second stage of Otsus.
(a) The first rejection of Special Autonomy was first made in early 2000, by various elements of Papuan society, when the UNCEN Special Autonomy Team presented the Special Autonomy document at the Sports Hall, Jayapura before it was delivered to Jakarta. A resident who rejected the document was shot dead at the Jayapura Sports Hall.
(b) The second rejection of Special Autonomy was made on 15 August 2005 at the DPRP Papua Province office; through the carrying of the coffin of a symbolic ‘dead Special Autonomy’.
(c) At the end of 2020, students who held a Special Autonomy Demonstration at the UNCEN Campus, in Timika, etc. were faced with a repressive Army and shootings.
(d) Students who have saved all the grief and death started sharing with the West Papua Papuan People’s Council at their Listening Meetings. All groups rejected the next stage of Special AUtonomy.
(e) How about the Papuan People’s Council (MRP) of Papua Province? They went to the regencies of Jayawijaya, Nabire, Deiyai, Dogiyai and Paniai and Merauke to hold Listening Meetings. But they (MRP) were pressured and terrorized and had to return to Jayapura. In Merauke, the MRP members who were there were handcuffed and their 14 bodyguards were being brought to the Merauke District Court with accusations of treason”.
(f) Faced with the reality of Otsus, activists formed a civilian group called Petition to Reject Otsus. They have up to (the end of this January) collected signatures from 100 groups and about 500,000 more have “declared that they reject the next stage of pecial Autonomy”.
- Today and the Year 2021 Today, when we discuss the situation, we do not do it in an empty space. We are contemplating the situation while the various parties are ‘on alert’. How will they enforce the second Phase of Special Autonomy?
(a) Discussions on the expansion of the Phase Two Special Autonomy extension are
currently taking place in the Parliament together with the addition of new Provinces: to bring in more migrants. All without consultation with Papuans and violating the Special Autonomy Law.
(b) The troops that have been brought to the Land of Papua since August 2019 are
continuing to come. This land is already full of army troops and special forces, while Special Autonomy will formally end on November 21, 2021
(c) According to reports over the last 2 years, Indonesia has built around 30 Kodim and 1 Pangkowilham in Mimika.
- All this is being done while “racism against Papua is filling media spaces in Indonesia and while all the protests against racist utterances by Papuan activists are accused of breaking treason laws”.
- Likewise, the protest against the second phase of Special Autonomy, has been limited by Treason Decree by the Papua Police Chief, Paulus;
- Violence and Shootings in Intan Jaya: Shooting of a priest; Pastor Zanambani, two Priests, two residents who were burnt and their ashes were thrown away to remove traces, shooting of other civilians; and the MAF aircraft that was burned on January 6, 2021.
- The division of 5 New Provinces announced by the Minister of Home Affairs, which could cause the people of Tanah Papua to be divided between: (g1) the elite who will sieze new positions and the rejection of the Special Autonomy which will cause this division and (g2) between: the Papuan elite who will take over the positions and Army and Police who will compete for money from the Special Autonomy fund.
- We, Papuans “are still in Indonesia, the inhabitants of the Sabang Merauke National Park”.
- How do we as a Church account for our faith? How do we, as a Church respond to all these crises, schemes and problems and their effects? From the biblical text at the beginning of the letter, we are sure that, the Church and believers do not exist in an empty space and time, but face the ‘powers, the governments, the rulers of this dark world, and stand against the evil spirits in the air ‘(Ephesians 6: 10-20). In addition, we are also called to confirm the confession of faith “that God has called us and has sent us to this land that is full of conflicts with its dynamics of society and culture”.
We are also called to account for the faith that God has entrusted to us (Hebrews 4:13). So, in order to face the ’60-year-old Jakarta – Papua conflict’ in a concrete form, we share the following:
7.1. We, the Church, are optimistic and believe that the OPM / Papua conflict that has been going on for years can be resolved peacefully and through negotiation. After all, Indonesia can also read the traces of President SBY, Gus Dur and President Jokowi who have left their mark.
7.1.1. Presidents SBY and JK used the Peace and Negotiation Approach mediated by
Switzerland: a neutral third country’. The result: the Helsinki Agreement. And GAM and Aceh were able to be demilitarized. GAM / ACEH was able to form a local party and the Aceh flag could be raised.
7.1.2. What were the contributions of President Gus Dur; when he served as the President of the Republic of Indonesia? He used a Cultural Approach: donating Rp. 1 billion in funds towards the Second Papuan People’s Congress (May –Jun1 2000) and allowing the (Morning Star flag to be flown as long as it was smaller in size and flown lower.
7.1.3. President Jokowi, on September 30, 2019, promised the mass media in Jakarta that his party would like to meet with the “pro-Papua referendum group”. So, we believe that Indonesia / Jakarta will eventually negotiate with the ULMWP. Through this letter we call on this promise.
- We hope that all of these points (items 7.1.1- 7.1.3) will give new energy and optimism to all parties to work with the Papuan people in a peaceful way in order to reduce the atmosphere of ‘increasing racism against Papua and other factors that are’ destroying humanity with:
7.2.1. Immediately stop the discussions on Special Autonomy in Jakarta without
consultation with the people of Papua and; 7.2.2. Stop and explain to the public regarding the actions of the State of: sending troops and building new Kodim and Pankowilhan;
7.2.3. Stop the creation of New Provinces in the Land of Papua with no agreement from the Papuan people’;
7.2.4. This should be accompanied by transparent efforts by the President to stop ‘racist attacks from the public and Indonesian state institutions’. Why are all these programs essentially closing our eyes to the “Papuan people” who are precious in God’s eyes; who are being left abandoned “for the sake of the integrity of the
Republic of Indonesia”. That’s why we invite all to stand together: Papuan people ‘first. Papuan’s lives Matter ‘.
7.3 We also acknowledge the presence of ‘Hardliners’ who are ‘Jakarta-centric’ in the governance of this country. The presence of these hardline elements who cannot dialogue, was heard from President SBY on 16 December 2012 at the Cikeas Palace, West Java. The Church leaders that were in attendance were: Pdt. Socrates Yoman, Pdt. Jemima Krey, Pdt. Wanma, Pdt. Benny Giay, Frederika Korain, and several others. The following year we read that: Mansour Fakih strengthened President SBY’s statement that: in the Republic of Indonesia there are fascist elements that hinder democracy in Indonesia. Pak Mansur Fakih: an NGO activist, at the time, wrote this, in the ‘Introduction’ of the book ‘Fasism’.
7.4. In the face of such elements, we proposed on 26 August 2019 that the Government of Indonesia show justice to Papua by ‘negotiating with ULWMP / KNPB mediated by a third tate party. But the following month (September 30, 2019), President Jokowi responded by conveying in front of the media that “his party is willing to meet with the Pro Referendum group”. Today we are waiting for when this promise will be realized. We are not waiting for the construction of District Military Command Posts, the addition of new Provinces and the Development of Regional Military Posts.
7.5 Considering all of this, we the Papuan Church Council call for:
7.5.1. All congregations / workers should
- take time for Prayer and Fasting once a week to ask God for wisdom and strength for the next few months from 10 February to 10 May 2021;
- At the same time, we convey our gratitude to our: friends at the Pacific Council of Churches who have preceded us to take the time to pray for us and fast for the safety of Papua for a month from 26 October to 3 December 2020.
7.5.2. In the same spirit: we urge the authorities from the Provinces of Papua and West Papua, both the legislative and executive branches; and members of the DPD and DPR RI representing the Electoral Districts of Papua to seek an explanation from the Central Government regarding the political steps taken by the State and the Indonesian government which are systematically spreading ‘the message that Papuans are not important, monkeys,
and so on; this language underestimates and devalues ‘the existence of Papuans’. They also do this in the following ways:
(b1) Closing the door on addressing the source of the Papua – Jakarta conflict mentioned by LIPI;
(b2) Imposing a ‘treason clause’ for Papuan activists protesting racism against Papuans;
(b3) Dropping troops repeatedly into the Land of Papua since 19 August 2019 until the present day; coupled with the construction of District and Regional Military Posts;
(b4) The steps taken by the Central Government in violating the Special Autonomy Law by unilaterally extending Special Autonomy;
(b5) The addition of 3 new provinces without consulting the Papuan people. Through this letter, we as a Church request an explanation from the Central Government and for them to explain to the Papuan people all the actions of the Government over the last 2 years amidst the ‘racism against Papuans which is on the rise’ which could inflame the ongoing military operations in Nduga, Nduga Regency, Intan Jaya and the construction of the District Military Headquarters and Regional Military Headquarters that are taking place in Papua at the same time.
7.5.3. Through this letter, we also ask for people to stand in solidarity with us from anywhere in Indonesia, the Pacific and elsewhere
(a) to investigate and monitor the situation of the Land of Papua which continues to be used as a ‘land for selling weapons and ammunition’ to
OPM pets. The practice of buying and selling weapons coupled with the increasing incidence of years of “racist speech” continues to make the Land of Papua “bloody” which has become a spectacle of social media.
(b) If possible form a specific discussion group or analyze the
dynamics of the Papua situation and in the future and provide us with advice on the conditions we are living in from a ‘brother’s point of view’.
- We have been encouraged by the footsteps of the World Church that have visited us (thank you to the World Council of Churches and the Church in Asia & the Pacific for visiting and seeing the ‘conditions of the Nduga Refugees in Wamena’: a wonderful visit; not only at the grassroots level but also at the level of the Synod leadership.
7.5.4 With the knowledge and determination that we are ‘humans and not’ monkeys in the Sabang Merauke Indonesian National Park, we thank the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, The Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands and the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and other countries who have called for UNHCR to visit the Land of Papua. We also express our thanks to those who stand in solidarity with Papua wherever you are. These are the prayers, hopes and concerns for the situation of our Land, which we put
forward to the churches and the people of the Land of Papua in order to celebrate 166 Years since the Gospel arrived in the Land of Papua. May the Lord Jesus bless us all.
Jayapura, February 5, 2021
Papuan Council of Churches
- Pastor. Benny Giay (Moderator)
- Pastor Andrikus Mofu
- Pastor Dorman Wandikbo
- Pastor Socratez Yoman