West Papua Council of Churches laments displacement and killing of Papuans

On the 167th Anniversary of the Gospel Entering the Land of Papua, the West Papua Council of Churches (WPCC) has released a open letter praying for the safety of the Papuan people. “Lord, right now the lives of Papuans are being messed with by the interests of the State, encouraged by the fervor of racism, fascism and injustice…” said the council in the pastoral letter. It mentions the continued large-scale military operations, the growing number of internally displaced people, the continuation of special autonomy and the plan to establish four additional provinces in the Papuan territory.

Prayer of the West Papua Council of Churches

“On the 167th Anniversary of the Gospel Entering the Land of Papua, We Are Not Safe in Our Land” Lord, today is the 5th February, 2022, and we Papuans are witnessing the celebration of the 167th anniversary of the Gospel Entering the Land of Papua being held by the government. However, we ask forgiveness from You Lord because we have failed to carry out our pastoral duties.

It can be seen that we Papuans are almost extinct after being part of this country for the last 60 years. Many Papuans continue to be killed through large-scale military operations and also through disease outbreaks without our voice speaking out. Today there are 60,000 refugees living in fear and uncertainty. The state does not pay attention to the fate of the refugees, they are displaced without food, shelter and health care.

They were forcibly evicted from their home villages in Nduga, Intan Jaya, Puncak Papua, Maybrat, Kiwirok in Star Mountains, and Suru suru in Yahukimo. To this day it is uncertain when they will return to their villages. Their villages have been shut off and occupied by military forces. Instead of guaranteeing security and giving hope to refugees, remilitarization has taken place by building new district military posts in Intan Jaya, Nduga, Lany Jaya, Yalimo, Star Mountains, Tambrauw Yahukimo, and Maybrat.

We see that the military operation, the construction of the district military posts and the division of the Provinces are tactics by the Government to implement a program to transfer millions of people from outside Papua to Papua, as promoted by Hendro Priyono, the former chairman of BIN (The State Intelligence Agency). 1

Lord, right now the lives of Papuans are being messed with by the interests of the State, encouraged by the fervor of Racism, Fascism and injustice. The politics of domination continues, Special Autonomy is forced to continue, even though Papuans have rejected Special Autonomy. Not only that, Lord, but they also have forced the division of current provinces into 6 new provinces. Armed conflict continues to be maintained in order to ensure the seizure of our lands. All our lands are being seized for capitalist interests and large-scale investments. Meanwhile, when Papuans call out against this, they are arrested. Papuans are almost extinct.

How can we Papuans sing God’s song of praise at this year’s celebrations, while we are experiencing all the suffering that we have shared? We are like the Israelites who were exiled and who wept by the river of Babylon, asking for God’s help. We feel sad because this year the date of February 5th has been robbed by the State while our people are suffering in our land. The State celebrates this day to cover up State crimes against it’s people, and they have lied and plundered the Papuans right to life.

Lord, if the situation is like this, who can we complain to? We can only cry out to you, to call for the safety of our people in the Land of Papua. Here we are Lord, see Your servants who are praying.

Jayapura, 5 February 2022

Pendeta Beny Giyai (Moderator), Pendeta Dorman Wandikbo (Member), Pendeta Socrates S. Yoman (Anggota), Pendeta Andrikus Mofu (Anggota)

1 https://news.detik.com/berita/d-5323117/ada-sejumlah-oknum-kepala-daerah-dipapua- bermuka-dua/2