A Christmas Message to SBY from Papuan Churches

by Andreas Harsono

FOUR PAPUAN church leaders drafted and debated about their letter to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono while they’re in Jakarta this week. They met Indonesian Coordinating Minister on Politics and Security Djoko Suyantoon Monday, Dec. 12. They spent the next four days to draft the seven-page letter. It was finally signed at about 4pm at the office of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia. They handed over the letter to President Yudhoyono on Friday night at his private residence in Cikeas.They titled the letter, “Pesan Profetis Gereja-Gereja se-Tanah Papua” or the “Prophetical Message from the Churches in the Land of Papua.”

Frederika Korain, a Papuan human rights researcher, thought that it was an important, and histotical moment. She decided to record the moments when the letter was signed.

Rev. Martin Luther Wanma, chairman of the Indonesian Christian Bible Church (blue batik) and Rev. Jemima M. Krey, chairwoman of the Evangelical Christian Church in Papua (black blazer and red scarf) signed the seven-page letter. ©Frederika Korain
Rev. Socratez Sofyan Yoman, chairman of the Alliance of Baptist Churches in Papua signed the seven-page letter. Yoman is also an author. The Indonesian General Attorney Office bans two of his books, Kucuran Air Mata Umat Tuhan di Papua Barat Harus Diakhiri and Pemusnahan Etnis Melanesia. ©Frederika Korain

They prayed and shook hands after signing the seven-page letter. They spent most of their time in the office of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia on Salemba Street, Jakarta. It has a Papua Desk dedicated solely on helping Papuan churches doing their businesses in Jakarta. Rev. Phil Erari, a Papuan priest, an environmentalist and a board member at the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, also attended the signing event.

Rev. Benny Giay, chairman of the Kingmi Gospel Tabernacle Church, spent days to discuss the letter with his colleagues. Giay is also an anthropologist educated at the Vrije University in Amsterdam. When meeting Giay, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, himself a Ph.D, asked Giay in what field he wrote his Ph.D thesis. ©Frederika Korain
Rev. Martin Luther Wanma, chairman of the Indonesian Christian Bible Church, gestured to Rev. Socratez Yoman when signing his letter. Rev. Wanma is based in Manokwari unlike the other three church leaders with their offices in Jayapura.©Frederika Korain

The seven-page letter has the picture of a dying Papuan freedom fighter, Yawan Wayeni. It says that Indonesian police officer Imam Setiawan had killed Wayeni on Aug. 9, 2009 on Serui Island. Setiawan got a promotion. He became the police chief of Jayapura. On Oct. 13, 2011 he led the use of excessive force to crack down the Papuan Congress after one of the leaders read out the 1961 Papua Declaration of Independence. Setiawan is now the deputy director of traffic management at the Papuan police department.

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