RELEASE – 1st November 2023
A recent report highlighted West Papuans suffered two massacres only days apart in September. The first took place in the coastal regency of Fakfak, where five civilians, including elders, were murdered during a military sweep in the village of Mamuri. Six days later, five teenage Papuans were killed by Indonesian military in the highlands regency of Yahukimo.
The victims – aged between 15 and 18 – were killed while they fished in a local river. Video evidence showed soldiers using drones and bazookas to fire at the teens.The report also highlighted that 674 people were internally displaced in Yahkimo. International observers estimate that 60,000 – 100,000 Papuans were displaced between December 2018 and March 2022.
Two West Papuan women were raped and mutilated by Indonesian soldiers in Yahukimo on October17th. One was murdered and the other has fallen into a coma. The first attack happened while one of the women was tending her garden.
She was stabbed multiple times and had her genitals mutilated. The other woman was attacked while walking with her 6-year-old son, who was able to escape and seek help. In the midst of this disturbing news, this morning, the PCC team held a special morning prayer in commemoration of All Saints Day and Wednesdays in Black and Red for the people of Tanah (West) Papua.
We were joined by Mr. Octavianus Mote, Vice President of the United Liberation Front for West Papua (ULMWP). As we prayed for the innocent lives lost in conflicts in Europe and the Middle East and for a just peace, we also remembered the “slow genocide” underway in Tanah Papua.
We were offered two signs of hope: The first in the Gospel Reading for All Saints Day – the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12, in the words of Paul’s Letter to Philippians 4:7 – “This peace will control the way you think and feel,” and from Paul’s letter to the Romans 15:13 – “May the God of hope fill you with al joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy spirit.”
The second in the daily raising of the Morning Star flag here at the PCC Secretariat this morning by Mr. Mote. An emotional Mr. Mote said this was the first time he had been able to raise the symbol of his people in public in his life. He then had a bilateral meeting with PCC General Secretary, Rev. James Shri Bhagwan, to discuss the upcoming 12th General Assembly of the Pacific Conference of Churches and the PCC’s 6-decade-long advocacy for the people of West Papua.
Churches from West Papua were founding members of the Pacific Conference of Churches in 1961 and the four largest churches in West Papua: Gereja Injili Di Indonesia (Evangelical Church of Indonesia), Gereja Kristen Injili di Tannah Papua (Evangelical Church in the Land of Papua), Gereja Kemah Injil (KINGMI) Papua (Gospel Tabernacle Church), and the Persekutuan Gereja-Gereja Baptis Papua (Fellowship of Baptist Churches in Papua). These churches also make up the West Papua Council of Churches.