Wednesday, July 21, 2010

065. Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), Indonesia: tensions high as military 'sweeps' Puncak Jaya.

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 065 | Wed 21 Jul 2010


Since late May TNI (Indonesian military) and BRIMOB (militarised police) forces have been conducting 'sweeping operations' in the central highlands Puncak Jaya region of Papua (formerly Irian Jaya). This was ostensibly to flush out the 'separatists' they blame (without evidence) for two recent attacks. Indonesia keeps Papua closed to international media and human rights organisations. However, news is leaked out at great personal risk and on 18 June the West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) issued a report with details of the crisis in Puncak Jaya.

WPAT reports that during early June the BRIMOB seized a church in Kayogwebur district Tingginambut for use as a headquarters. In the district of Kampong Tinggineri Tingginambut, BRIMOB officers raped a pregnant Papuan woman. In Gwenggu Pilia twelve houses and two churches were burned by security forces. In several villages all the livestock have been killed. On 11 June the BRIMOB conducted a residential 'sweep' search of all houses on the road between Ilu and Mulia, detaining anyone without identification and taking them away on army trucks. (Most highland Papuans do not even speak Indonesian let alone carry Indonesian ID cards.) Papuans have reported being abused and tortured while in custody. Locals are now too afraid to leave their homes to harvest vegetable gardens or attend to business. Further to this, the TNI has been forcing local Papuans to undertake tasks for the military, such as building landing pads for military helicopters after first clearing the land of crops. Pacific Scoop (New Zealand) has an unconfirmed report of at least seven dead in the Jambi, Sinak Ilu and Tingginambut districts of Mulia.

From the 1950s MAF USA opened up the previously impenetrable mountainous inland of what was then Dutch New Guinea for courageous pioneer missionaries. Annexed by Indonesia in 1969 and occupied by Indonesian armed forces (predominantly Javanese Muslims), Papua is being purposefully and rapidly colonised by Javanese Muslims for political and geo-strategic purposes. The indigenous Papuans, who are ethnic Melanesians and predominantly Christian, are being marginalised and their land is being Islamised. Most Javanese Muslims despise the Papuans as racially and religiously inferior. TNI and BRIMOB officers routinely and freely express their racial and religious hatred for the Papuans in unrestrained violence. The TNI has vast economic interests in Papua, including protection services. Thus the TNI has incentives to provoke incidents that make Papuan 'terrorism' and 'separatism' look like real threats when in reality they are not. Papuan resistance is essentially resistance against racial and religious discrimination, persecution, exploitation, marginalisation, Islamisation and threat of genocide. In 2001 the Indonesian parliament granted the Papua Province a tokenistic 'Special Autonomy' which was never implemented. On 18 June many thousands of brave Papuans rallied in Jayapura, declaring 'Special Autonomy' a failure. They symbolically 'gave it back' to Indonesia and demanded a referendum on independence and renewed dialogue to be mediated by a neutral country. Tensions are extremely high.

Just like some other Christian peoples who have faced or are facing genocide, the Papuans have been betrayed and abandoned by Western human-rights-affirming nations intent on acquiring lucrative mining concessions, arms deals and other economic and political interests.


* give the Papuan Church and Christian leaders great wisdom, grace and authority as they lead their people through these dark days -- days where great restraint is required to continually resist provocation aimed at triggering conflict that would 'justify' a massacre.

'Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their heart and stir up wars continually.' (Psalm 140:1,2 ESV)

* provide the displaced Papuans of Pancuk Jaya with security, shelter, comfort and all their material and spiritual needs; may the Holy Spirit draw them into prayer and the presence/sanctuary (Isaiah 8:14a) of the Lord that their prayers might be answered, their faith strengthened, and the Lord glorified.


If anyone else has a sense of déjà vu, see: Religious Liberty Prayer bulletin | No. 417 | Wed 21 Feb 2007 . The story is virtually identical.



Papuans are ethnic Melanesians and predominantly Christian. Their land, which was annexed by Indonesia in 1969, is being strategically, purposefully and rapidly colonised by Javanese Muslims, resulting in Islamisation and marginalisation. TNI (Indonesian military) and BRIMOB (militarised police) forces are presently conducting 'sweeping operations' in the central highlands region of Puncak Jaya. Thousands have been mistreated and displaced as the Indonesian security forces hunt for 'separatists'. On 18 June many thousands of Papuans rallied in Jayapura to reject Indonesian 'Special Autonomy' status (which has failed) and to call for fresh dialogue. Tensions are high. The Papuans have been betrayed and abandoned by Western human-rights-affirming nations intent on acquiring lucrative mining concessions and other economic and political interests. Please pray for the Church in Papua.