Pacific churches urge MSG to expel Indonesia if it doesn't allow UN visit to Papua

Suara Papua – April 16, 2024
Papua Student Front for Victims of Violence action at National Monument in Jakarta – Undated (SP)

Elisa Sekenyap, Jayapura – The Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) says it deplores the recent sadistic torture of indigenous peoples of Melanesia in West Papua committed by the Indonesian government through members of the TNI (Indonesian military).

"Unfortunately this horrifying incident is only the latest in the six decades of Indonesian oppression of the people of West Papua", PCC General Secretary Reverend James Bhagwan told Suara Papua on Sunday April 14 via email from Suva, Fiji.

The PCC's statement was conveyed in connection with three Papuan civilians who were tortured by TNI officers in Puncak regency, Central Papua province, a video of which spread widely on social media not long ago.

Bhagwan said that the Indonesian government is a signatory to a number of United Nations conventions, which should guarantee the civil and political rights of its citizens, including West Papuans, regardless of their political ideology or religious beliefs.

"The Indonesian government should also do the same thing under what is called the Special Autonomy Law. However, people who express their rights as indigenous people, express voices that are different from the government, are routinely harassed and tortured brutally", he said.

Bhagwan said it should be noted that Indonesia, which tries to be seen as a respected member of the international community, has been re-elected for another term as a member of the UN Human Rights Council (2024-2026).

"Do countries that supported Indonesia's nomination as members of the UN Human Rights Council say they feel comfortable with these human rights violations?"

"With the end of the meeting of Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) foreign officials and in anticipation of the next meeting of MSG leaders, the question is, how is it that the MSG is able to continue to allow Indonesia, which has policies and practices that demean dignity, weaken and eliminate women's rights, children, Melanesian men and fellow MSG members, remain a member [of the MSG]?"

"Therefore in the name of justice, which is an expression of divine love, and when many of the Pacific peoples are reflecting on the betrayal, arbitrarily arrest, torture, fake trial and execution of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, we call for the suspension, or even the expulsion of Indonesia from the MSG if they do not agree to facilitate a visit by the UN Human Rights [Commissioner] to West Papua", concluded Bhagwan.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Gereja Pasifik Desak MSG Keluarkan Indonesia Jika Tidak Memfasilitasi Komisi HAM PBB Ke Papua".]