GOVERNING AND DEVELOPING THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF
THEOLOGICAL DECLARATION OF CHURCHES IN PAPUA
Today on January 26th, 2011 we, Leaders of churches in the Land of Papua, along with Christian congregations, gather to declare our stance and position with regard to the state of government and its development policies pursued in the Land of Papua since annexation of Papua by the Unitary Republic of Indonesia, specifically with the introduction of the Law No. 21/2001 regarding the Special Autonomy for Papua.
As Churches, we are deeply concerned over the condition of our peoples, especially the indigenous Papuans, owners of this land, whose fate has been cornered to uncertainty amid development policies staged by the Indonesian Government in the Land of Papua. Such development policy is more characterized by physical structures/infrastructural development and to promote the interests of Indonesia in the Land of Papua.
The implementation of Special Autonomy for Papua has been inconsistent and inconsequent is a strong indication of insincerity of the Indonesian Government which led Papuans to view that OTSUS has FAILED. MRP, as a manifestation of the Special Autonomy with its members hastily selected and further exacerbated with the government’s ignorance of Ii point recommendations produced by the grand meeting of MRP (Papuan Peoples’ Assembly) itself, is therefore considered as an insult to the people of Papua, as people created in the image of God. The Churches also question the letter issued recently by the Minister of Home Affairs No, 188.341/1 l0/SJ regarding clarification pertaining to Special Regulation for Papua Province dated 13 January 2011 which further annihilate the right and existence of indigenous Papuans in their own motherland.
We see such situation as Kairos, a momentum for Churches to speak and express our stance and deep concerns in the form of the following Theological Declaration.
First, we are convinced that these processes repeat the same old process of annexation of Papua into Indonesia which is legally and culturally a flaw. The process of the Act of Free Choice (Pepera) in 1969 has been the root of problem on democracy and legality for the people of Papua. Ever since its integration into Indonesia, Papua has become a troubled territory under the authority of the Indonesian government.
Second, Papuans have undergone a ‘Silence history of suffering’ or memmoria passsionis leading to Genocide. The discourse of genocide has long been voiced by so many observers who are deeply concerned over the very existence of Papuans. The term genocide perhaps does not meet the criteria set forth by the UN, or other nations, or by Indonesia. But from our own view as victims, genocide is indeed taking place through the conditioning staged by Jakarta in the forms of ideology and development policies that are against the indigenous Papuans. Transmigration policy and unrelenting military operations are, in our view well-planned programs to eventually annihilate indigenous Papuans. Papuans are positioned as “the other” and as such warrant surveillance, control, and civilization. Papuans are not equal citizens of Indonesia. Some observers in Jakarta view this as an internal colonialism or disguised slavery against Papuans.
Third, we, churches of Papua acknowledge our own failures and sins for being silent for too long over demonic and destructive nature of the development policy and modernization on indigenous Papuans, which according to observers in Jakarta as internal colonialism and disguised slavery. Papuan churches have misarticulated the Scripture which states: “the government is the Lord’s representative on earth, worthy of respect.” Up until now, this has caused us incapable of playing our prophetic role.
Fourth, to respond to the challenges faced by Papuans, we, the churches are determined to return to our roots, to our Christian traditions, namely to the Scripture and church history. Thus, we view the sufferings of our Papuan people from the biblical perspective (Matthew 16:3b) “signs of times” and see it as theological and missiological challenges. This implies that the Lord is sending us, Papuan churches to His people who are traversing a dark history of suffering and oppression. It is therefore, as churches in Papua we want to hear to regularly raise questions and communicate with the Lord “what do you have in mind with regard to the behavior of those who indulge in disguised slavery against our people? Do you agree and applaud them?”
Fifth, consequently we want to view this critical position of churches in Papua in expressing the grievances of Papuans in the land of Papua is an integral part of our calling to spread the good News commanded by the Holy Scripture. The Scripture and church history are our basis for action. In this mission, the church is sent to shepherd the Lord’s people, keep the image of the Lord to be free from abuse (John 10:11; 21:12, 16, 19). As shepherds, we are obliged to listen to the voices of our sheep (congregation); in this light we raise our voice because “our life boat is drowning; the candle of our people is being put off in the name of development and territorial sovereignty.”
Sixth, with regard to development policy and current government administration, we hereby declare: (a) that the Indonesian government has FAILED to promote the welfare of indigenous Papuans especially since the Special Autonomy was passed. Therefore we urge the government to immediately halt the whole process of election of members of the MRP (Papuan People’s Assembly) taking place currently and respond to the 11 point recommendation made by the MRP grand meeting; (b) and as a solution, we urge the Indonesian government to open itself and hold a dialogue with indigenous Papuans to be mediated by a neutral third party; (c) we are appalled by the attitude exhibited by indigenous Papuan state officers who are ignorant of the rights of their own people.
Seventh, we urge our Papuan communities to stand up, to work on your own salvation, and express the truth before the present tyrant state authorities, who is on a rampage of internal colonialism, ethnic cleansing (genocide), and disguised slavery against your own Nation.
Eight, to our Papuan communities, in Indonesia, and anywhere else, do pray for us in solidarity to make us stand firm in embracing today’s challenges in Papua that are full of pain and tears.
End of this declaration.
Leaders of Churches in Papua
Elly D. Doirebo M.Si
Deputy Chairperson of Synod of Evangelical Christian Church of Papua
Rev. Dr. Benny Giay
Chairperson of Synod of Papuan Christian Church
Rev. Socrates Sofyan Yoman MA
Chairperson of Fellowship Papuan Baptist Churches
- Churches push for Jakarta-Papua dialogue (westpapuamedia.info)
- INDONESIA: Widespread impunity in Papua aggravating tensions (westpapuamedia.info)