Churches speak out for peace and security in Paniai

JUBI, 29 August 2011

The desire for peace in the district of Paniai is a common aspiration, especially in the wake of the many conflicts that have occurred in the recent past.   Everyone should be aware of the need to work together to restore a sense of security so that people can continue with their day-to-day activities.

These were the words contained in a press release issued by the Commission for Justice and Peace of the Paniai Diocese and the Commission for Justice and Peace of the KIINGMI Church on 28 August.

The representative of the Diocese of Paniai, Fr Marko Okto Pekei, and Yafet Tetobi of the KINGMI Church said that they hoped that the leaders of the security forces would not deploy forces from outside Paniai.   Moreover, they hoped that the forces already in the area would not roam round freely in the area with all their military equipment because doing so would only worsen the situation. People who are now thinking about returning home to Enarotali, Madi and places close by will start feeling afraid of going back to their kampungs after
realising that the situation is not yet safe.

They also said that all sides should realise that the preservation of security and an atmosphere of peace is the duty of all, leaders of the communities, the security forces – TNI the army and Polri, the police - as well as the TPN/OPM, leaders of the community, religious leaders, leaders of customary groups and leaders of the women and the youth.

The two church commissions for peace and justice also deeply regretted the wounding of two people during an armed conflict that occurred on 17 August in Uwibutu, Madi.  ‘We also deeply regret the actions of certain elements who have destroyed the economies of families living in the area.’

They went on to say that any problems between the security forces and the TPN/OPM should be handled by means of persuasion, not by the use of repressive military measures because the latter would only result in casualties among civilians who are not in any way involved in these matters. Repressive measures, that is to say, violence or armed conflict, will only result in casualties. This means that all sides are responsible for preserving peace and security for the civilian population.

The church representatives said that they had felt called upon to speak out about the unsatisfactory conditions of the local people during the past three weeks. The various churches in Paniai have therefore been trying to mediate to find the best possible solution that accords with the wishes of the people so that they can live in safety and prevent the occurrence of casualties among the people.

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