“We support the struggle for human rights of the people of Papua. We urge an end to the ongoing violence and impunity. We support the call for social and economic justice through serious dialogue and a concrete political process that seeks to address root causes of the present problems,” said Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
Tveit was in Tanah Papua from 17 to 20 June, as part of his ten-day visit to Indonesia. Tanah Papua has a prominent Christian presence, with more than 45 diverse denominations. The province has remained the focus of tensions between the authorities and the Papuan people.
Tveit's visit to Tanah Papua took place following the issuance of a WCC Executive Committee statement in February expressing concern over the violence and urging a peaceful resolution.
"The focus of the visit was to listen and support the church in its efforts of being church in a difficult situation like this one, for the people. For the local church this means praying with the people and speaking up for justice through peaceful means," Tveit added.
“The Indonesian government must consider the realities of Papuan people and ensure a secure future for them,” said Tveit. He went on to say that “struggles for both justice and peace in Papua reflects the urgency and timeliness of the theme of the WCC's upcoming assembly 'God of life, lead us to peace and justice'”. The WCC assembly will take place in 2013 in Busan, Korea.
While in Tanah Papua, Tveit visited several churches including WCC member church the Evangelical Christian Church in Tanah Papua (GKI-Tanah Papua). Among other churches he visited were the Protestant Church in Indonesia (GPI Papua), the Evangelical Church in Indonesia (GIDI), the Baptist Church in Papua, the Christian Church of Holy Word (Gereja Kristen Kalam Kudus) and the Christian Missionary Alliance (Kristen Kemah Injil Church).
The general secretary was invited to preach at the GKI Pengharapan Jayapura Church on Sunday 17 June where he reflected on Roman 8:31, “If God is for us, who is then against us?” “We need the proper dynamics between Christian humility and Christian self confidence,” Tveit said in his sermon.
Tveit also met with government officials, representatives of non-governmental organizations, independent movements and interfaith networks, who updated him on the Papuan situation.
In his meeting with the Indonesian church leaders in Jakarta on 25 June, Tveit said that the purpose of his visit to Tanah Papua was to understand the situation better. “The visit was also a continuation of the WCC's engagement with human rights concerns around the world,” he said.
The meeting took place at the headquarters of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (CCI).
Commenting on the Papuan situation, Rev. Dr A. A. Yewangoe, general chairman of CCI, said that “it is not only the socio-political situation in Papua which is significant but also the cultural and ethnic identity of its people which needs to be appreciated.” Yewangoe also stressed the need for positive dialogue and a peaceful resolution of conflict.
WCC expresses concern over human right violations in Tanah Papua (WCC press release of 24 February 2012)