The World Council of Churches Executive Committee issued a statement on 23 May expressing concern and solidarity for the people of West Papua who are facing violence and human rights violations.
In February, 23 members of an ecumenical Pilgrim Team visited four separate locations in West Papua in what is believed to be the first time that such a large and diverse international delegation has visited the territory since its integration into Indonesia in 1969. Observations by the Pilgrim Team indicate persistently high levels of violence and human rights violations, including recently in the Nduga Regency resulting in the displacement of many people from remote communities in this Highlands Region.
Pilgrim Team members "remarked on the very heavy military-security approach of the Indonesian authorities in the region, and its consequences in terms of conflict and associated human rights violations,” the Executive Committee statement reads. “We are also gravely concerned by reports of the accelerating deforestation and environmental degradation in West Papua, especially in light of the importance that these forest areas have for Indigenous Papuan people’s traditional livelihoods and culture, and their global significance with regard to the challenges of climate change and extinction of species.”
Overall, reports received and observations made by the Pilgrim Team members indicate that “the present situation in West Papua exhibits clear characteristics of systemic marginalization – including through transmigration and demographic shifts – and discrimination against the Indigenous Papuan population, and of their exclusion from the development process currently taking place in their own territory, which is in any event unsustainable and destructive both of the environment and traditional livelihoods,” the statement reads.
The Executive Committee “urges the Government of Indonesia immediately to open access to the Nduga Regency for national and international humanitarian organisations to provide food and health services for affected Indigenous communities and IDPs in the neighbouring regencies,” reads the statement.
The Executive Committee met in Bossey, Switzerland from 22-28 May.