UEM News

Violence against Papuas escalates

The photo was taken on 15 August in Ternate, East Moluccas Province, during a peaceful demonstration on the occasion of the anniversary of the New York Agreement (handover of West Papua to Indonesia by the UN). After five minutes, police arrested seventeen demonstrators. The officers forced the demonstrators to squat down and repeatedly beat several of them during the arrest. One was seriously injured and had to be hospitalized.

Fires in Jayapura during the unrest at the end of August.

Security forces break into a Papua student residence in Malang on 17 August, Indonesian Independence Day, to arrest students. They were accused of taking down the Indonesian flag hanging in front of the building and throwing it into the ditch. Hundreds of nationalists gathered in front of the building, screaming death threats and calling the students "monkeys" and "dogs". The security forces did nothing to disperse this group. During the arrest, the students were beaten and threatened. Photos: West Papua Network

In response to racist attacks and acts of discrimination against Papuan students in the Javanese cities of Malang, Surabaya and Semarang in mid-August, a series of demonstrations took place in various places in Papua. The call for independence was also raised. The security forces have violently suppressed some of the protests. Eight Papuans died and many were injured. The Internet was turned off in several cities.

Against the background of these incidents, the churches in Papua have published a statement demanding the indictment and condemnation of those responsible for the spread and acts of racism and discrimination in Java. They also call for the withdrawal of special units from certain regions of Papua, the immediate release of demonstrators who took to the streets against racism, the investigation of human rights violations in Papua, the restoration of the Internet connection and the willingness of the government to engage in dialogue with the Papuans and their political representatives on a peaceful solution to the conflict.

On 4 September the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, made similar demands.

UEM, in close coordination with the World Council of Churches and the members of the West Papua Network as well as the International Coalition on Papua, supports the concerns of the churches in Papua and advocates that the German government calls on the Indonesian government to take concrete measures to end violence, discrimination and human rights violations in Papua.

In our Prayer Alert we also asked for intercession for the oppressed siblings in Papua.

Dr Jochen Motte (Head of the Department of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation of UEM)

More information on the website of the Westpapua Network.

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