Opinion / Analysis
By: Selpius Bobii
December 31, 2013
Peace is critical to the continuation of life for human beings, though we find it hard to achieve in even our everyday lives. West Papuan Nehemia Yarinap stated that “Christ Jesus came to bring peace to the earth, however the characteristics of humans are such that they sometimes fail to reach peace and truth due to acting in the interests of political economics, oppressing other nations of peoples in the name of peace. At this time in the modern world, there are powerful nations oppressing and usurping the rights of other nations.” Yarinap’s points to the annexation of the sovereign independence of the nation of Papua into the Republic of Indonesia, commenting “ to realise peace and justice in Papua so many have sacrificed themselves and continue to sacrifice their lives just as Jesus Christ sacrificed himself to bring peace to humans on this earth….. Christmas reminds all people about peace and speaks to us that those characteristics that oppress other nations must change.”(1)
The dynasty of tyranny of Indonesia is now firmly established in Papua. In all areas of life the Indonesian State has firmly established those pillars that ensure the continuation of Indonesia’s oppression, even in religion. Indonesia has to that end consistently brought pressure to bear on those key Papuan figures in the churches who have continued to speak openly about the realities of discrimination, marginalisation, injustices and humanitarian atrocities that are occurring against the indigenous people of Papua. There have been accusations made that those such church persons too are themselves involved directly in the politics of Papua. Accusations that are particularly of recent times aimed at weakening the case for dialogue between Jakarta and Papua which has been encouraged by particular church figures. If the Church also becomes a pillar of support for this dynasty of oppression by Indonesia, then the church itself will in so doing lose both its very foundation as well as its direction. In that instance the church would be torn from its very roots and mission as handed down by Jesus Christ, being to save the world. The church in Papua must stand strong as a beacon of hope to the people and not become a partner of the State of Indonesia in the colonial domination of the indigenous people of Papua.
The Papuan Writer Usman Yogobi stated that “ The countenance of the Church in the land of Papua is such that it has become a partner for the Indonesian Government, with some reverends, bishops, pastors, pilgrims and monks supporting the colonial domination of the land of Papua. ‘Papua the Zone of Peace’ as declared in 2002 has never been realised, with the reality being quite the opposite – Papua has become a region of humanitarian disaster!
The term ‘Zone of Peace’ which arose from leaders of the different religions in Papua in 2002, has even been adopted recently by the Indonesian Military Commander in Papua (XVII) and the Head of Papuan Provincial Police. They have used the term in speech, letters or on banners, whilst in practice the Indonesian military and police have continued to carry out acts of violence and human atrocities against the indigenous people of Papua” stated Yogobi. The Church in Papua needs to learn and better understand its mission as handed down by Christ Jesus, being to bring salvation to the world. The salvation of souls is not just a matter of becoming oriented with the hereafter, but rather it’s about saving lives on this earth.
The law of the church prohibits representatives of the church being practically involved in politics, however at the same time it’s important to understand that the very teachings of the churches stress the importance of the church being involved in a real way in the life of the people. There is no such thing as evangelisation without social involvement; no such thing as mission without the struggle for justice. The church has a moral responsibility to be socially involved and to fight for justice and for respect of the dignity of humanity.
Dialogue between Jakarta and Papua which is being urged by the Peace Network of Papua – coordinated by the Catholic Priest Neles Kebadabi Tebay (Pr) – is a part of the involvement of the church in the upholding of justice and the respect of humanity dignity. If the church only speaks of justice and criticises human rights violations but does nothing to point to a way to bring an end to the conflict in Papua, then the human rights violations in Papua will continue without ceasing. Rather the church needs to itself open a way or point to a way forward. Dialogue between Jakarta and Papua is a way of enabling such discussion as required to deal with the many problems so as to find a dignified solution to the Papuan issue.
So let’s work together to lead the way to bringing about dialogue between Jakarta and Papua to find a solution that upholds the dignity of all. Indeed there are more than one way to bring about an end to the problems in Papua and it is important that other approaches being made are also continued such as the legal approach and the United Nations decolonisation approach. And as we struggle let’s always remember that the Struggle of Papua does not use violence or physical force but rather our means are always peaceful. As wherever violence is used there are inevitably human victims lost and indeed Indonesia has and continues to kill Papuans by a range of violent means. Over this more than 50 years endless innocent victims have been killed as a result of Indonesia’s actions in Papua. There’s been enough killing by Indonesia. Let’s bring an end to this cruel colonial domination using strictly peaceful means.
Indonesia and Papua really need to be enlivened to bring this about and its important we leave any narrow thinking paradigms. As the consequence of such is but to extend this conflict and more fallen victims, which are not small in number. Let’s take this never-ending conflict between Papua and Indonesia to the table and carry out unconditional peaceful dialogue as between two equal parties, facilitated by a neutral third party and in a third and neutral location. The international community including the USA has previously expressed its support for the path of dialogue between Jakarta and Papua; and it is the Writer’s conviction that all those who seriously uphold the values of the human rights, democracy, truth, justice, honesty and peace will also support a peaceful and dignified approach to finding a solution to bring an end to the problems in Papua. So let’s all work together to make dialogue between Jakarta and Papua a reality!
The Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has numerous times stated in speeches that the problems of Papua will be brought to an end in a peaceful and dignified way. Also is recalled the words of the Head of the Council of Presidential Advisors Dr Hasibuan in January 2013, that the President had promised to arrange dialogue between Jakarta and Papua during the year 2013. However that promise has not yet been fulfilled. A ‘promise’ is as something that is owed and must be paid and President SBY needs to fulfil that promise. It is dearly hoped that before President SBY’s term as president comes to a close on 20 October 2014 that this very extended conflict between Indonesia and Papua can be brought to an end through peaceful and dignified means and that it might become the hope of all parties to make that a reality.
- 1. The Bible of the Christian Religion talks about the ‘Garden of Eden’ that radiated the glory of God and where there was peace and prosperity. Where there were no wild beasts but rather all creatures lived together in peace. Then it is written, that peace was destroyed by the wrong of the first humans and therein began anarchy on the earth. Humans in all places seek after that peace which the Bible speaks of. Yet we see in the world that powerful humans prey on those weaker than themselves. The rich get richer and the misery of the poor becomes greater.
Selpius Bobii is the General Chairperson of Front PEPERA & is a Papuan Freedom Political Detainee in Abepura Prison, Jayapura