Prominent figures call for peaceful dialogue, end to armed conflict in Papua

Source – November 9, 2023
Gomar Gultom speaking at press conference calling for peace in Papua – November 9, 2023 (Kompas)

Novianti Setuningsih, Jakarta – Eight national figures representing religious leaders, leaders of community organisations (ormas) and human rights activists have called on the government to create peace in the land of Papua.

"We who have signed below have a deep concern over the state of the armed conflict in the land of Papua. Based on this concern, we are conveying a call for peace between the government of the Republic of Indonesia and conflicting parties", said Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) Chairperson Reverend Gomar Gultom at a press conference in Salemba, Central Jakarta, on Thursday November 9.

"Primarily, the armed civilian group factions, the ULMWP (the United Liberation Movement for West Papua), traditional leaders and indigenous Papuans, as well as local religious leaders", he said.

Gultom then said that it is also appropriate to highlight the global humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and Palestine.

However, according to Gultom, these incidents should not make Indonesia forget the existence of a humanitarian crisis that is occurring in its own territories, namely in Papua.

"At the same time, we also need to contemplate our attention on our own backyard, namely Indonesia. On a different scale, the humanitarian crisis we are witnessing in the world, we can actually also see up close in the land of Papua", said Gultom.

Gultom said that the land of Papua continues to be marred by armed conflict and human rights violations.

Not only that, environmental destruction, the extinction of rare species and the suffering of displaced communities as a consequence of the armed conflict should also be highlighted.

Therefore he said, peaceful dialogue is the best way to resolve the suffering of the communities in Papua.

The figures also asked state administrators to work together with all components of the nation to deal with the situation of the humanitarian crisis in Papua and restart exploring measures towards peaceful dialogue.

"All parties need to open up dialogue, including on dealing with internal refugees, hunger, injustice, election vulnerabilities as well as improving the human rights situation in Papua", said Gultom.

"These discussions must be facilitated by a trusted and impartial intermediary, including national figures and women leaders, religious and customary Papuan [leaders], for the sake of building trust and faith in exploring dialogue", he reiterated.

The eight national figures that signed the call were the wife of Indonesia's fourth president Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid, Sinta Nuriah, philosophy professor Franz Magnis Suseno, former US Ambassador Makarim Wibisono, former Supreme Court Justice Marzuki Darusman, Nahdlatul Ulama Executive Board Chairperson Alissa Wahid, Muhammadiyah Leadership Board Secretary General Abdul Mu'ti, Indonesian Bishops Conference Chairperson Mgr Siprianus Hormat and Gomar Gultom.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Pemuka Agama dan Tokoh HAM Serukan Perdamaian untuk Papua".]