200 priests call for peace in the Papua region of Indonesia
11/16/2021 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – A coalition of 194 Catholic priests from the war-torn region of Papua in Indonesia recently issued remarks calling on the international community, including the United Nations, to help bring peace to Papua. The priests include diocesan priests as well as members of the Franciscan, Augustinian, Jesuit and missionary orders of the Sacred Heart.
Papua is in the midst of a massive uprising led by separatist rebels against the security forces. In their statement, the priests called on other nations and the UN to urge separatists and security forces to immediately establish a ceasefire. They said, “We also strongly support the invitation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to come, see and hear the real human rights conditions in Papua.” They also called on the government and funding agencies to review some policies, such as increasing troop deployments, as some of these policies, they argued, are counterproductive and indeed encourage more violence and violence. oppression of the state.
The priests continued their remarks by noting that some members of the government accuse priests who even raise human rights issues as part of the separatist rebels. This is false, they argued, and exacerbated by the fact that “there is no transparent legal process to deal with such cases. [human] rights violations ”, as happens in Papua.
Civilians have long been caught in the crossfire of the conflict in Papua between separatists and security forces. In fact, more than 60,000 Papuans have been displaced since the violence began. For example, last month in Gunung Bintang district, hundreds of houses were destroyed by security forces claiming to be pursuing separatists; this displaced hundreds of people, who fled to other places, including neighboring Papua New Guinea. Additionally, last month there was a clash between separatists and security forces that resulted in the death of a two-year-old boy and the injury of a six-year-old.
Father John Bunay, spokesperson for the priests said that “the Church in Papua is present among the suffering. . . even though the bishops of these dioceses are silent about what is happening, we hope that our voices resonate in the hearts of the people. He also said they were appealing to the international community because the Indonesian government often turns a blind eye to the situation in Papua, which is why larger appeals are needed. “To stop this kind of denial,” he said, “Let the UN come here to see our situation.”
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