A Papuan who writes prolifically to promote the identity of his people

Bintang Papua
5 October 2012 Papuan leader  keen to affirm the identity  of his people

The Rev. Socrates S. Yoman is well known for his prolific writings about his people’s struggle. He was recently interviewed by Bintang Papua at his home.

The problem of West Papua has for a long time stagnated,  spreading fear among the Papuan people who are confronted by a brutal governmental system that lacks any sense  of humanity. This is why the Rev. Yoman spends most of his time writing books that are often very controversial. Some of his books have been banned in Indonesia.  He said that the Papuan leader who has inspired him for years is Arnold Ap, the anthropologist who was murdered in 1984 by Kopasanda (now called Kopassus). He was well known for the Mambesak songs  he composed.

The songs were all about promoting the identity of the Papuan  people and were intended to foster the spirit of the Papuan people. His songs called on the Papuan people to use their own language  and to revive their own culture. Although Ap was murdered many years ago, he is still an inspiration  for his people.

‘As for me, I am not able to sing  but God has given me another talent, the ability to write for which I thank the Almighty.’

The support from his wife and children  and all those who are part of the Alliance of Baptist Churches in Papua has been a source of inspiration for him, encouraging him to produce a number of books, some of which are now well known in other countries.

His intention has always been to call on his people to be true to their own identity in face of the attempts by Indonesia to bury it.

While other clerics give sermons from the pulpit, he has decided  to write books to spread his message. ‘Whether or not people can accept them is of less importance to me because my intention above all else is to persuade my people that they have an identity of their own.’

‘I also try to tell my people that they are the legitimate owners of the land. My message to  those Indonesians who have now settled in Papua is that you have been mis-informed by your government. about the Papuan people. ‘

He said that some of his books are now in the library of the US Congress. ‘They wrote to me two years ago and asked me to send them some of my books.’ His latest book is now being edited in preparation for printing and is being sought by people here in Indonesia as well as in other countries.

The Dutch author, Pieter Grooglever, has said: ‘People should read the books by Rev. Yoman. ‘His is a voice full of sadness which no  one should ignore.’

The title of his latest book is The Voice of a Shepherd who Opposes the Crimes against Humanity in the Land of  Papua. He has also received an offer  of money to pay for the book to be translated into English.

And moreover, he has already written two other books that are likely to be published quite soon.

[Translated by TAPOL]

 

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