THE Pacific churches have called for an immediate peacekeeping intervention to stop the ongoing violence in the embattled province of Papua.

General Secretary, Reverend James Bhagwan, said the Indonesian military and police had chosen to take sides with non-Papuan militia to attack the indigenous people.

“A peacekeeping force is needed to provide a neutral security service and allow a return to peace in Papua,” Bhagwan said.

“Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, has shown his willingness to negotiate with Papuans and this is a welcome move but it would be wise to use Pacific peacekeepers to keep the situation calm and ensure that troops return to barracks.”

The PCC last month condemned the deployment of 1000 additional troops to Papua and a further 5000 members of the security forces have reinforced units in the province after recent violence.

Pacific peacekeepers have been used successfully in the past in Timore Leste and Bougainville.

Violence flared in Papua last month after non-Papuans referred to the local population as monkeys. Papua – which was given freedom by the Netherlands in 1961 – has sought independence since it was invaded by Indonesia in 1969.

Bhagwan has also called on Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea to urge Indonesia to end the violence.

“Australia, Fiji and PNG are quite close to Indonesia so we urge them – in the name of justice and humanity – to use their influence to stop the bloodshed,” Bhagwan said.

It is unclear how many people have been killed in riots and other violence in the past week.