West Papua - What do you need to know
The situation for the Indigenous people in West Papua has not improved since Indonesia gained control in 1962. The Indonesian military and police have engaged in a process of ‘ethnic cleansing’ which has seen the deaths of over 500,000 people. The New Zealand Baptist Union cannot stand silent in this situation and encourages the wider church to recognize the sovereignty of the Indigenous people of West Papua and to support their cause for justice. Help spread the word about what is happening in West Papua in your churches and local community.
Key issues of concern:
Violation of human rights with the use of torture while in custody and during military operations
Impunity by the Indonesian police and military to allegations of human rights abuses
Environmental degradation and lack of consultation with Indigenous Papuans over natural resources
Continued lack of development infrastructure, such as health and education for indigenous Papuans.
West Papuans have been trying to seek ways in which to end the violence and promote dialogue for long term solutions. In 2017 some 1.8 million West Papuans signed a petition for a vote for independence, but this was declined by the UN Decolonization Committee.
The West Papuan Resistance Groups wish to join the MSG (Melanesian Spearhead Group) but their intentions have been blocked by Indonesia. The MSG can help the decolonisation process.
Kerry Tabuni is from the Central Highlands of West Papua. He is in his final year at Law School, doing an LLM program, majoring in International Human Rights Law and Indigenous Issues at Te Piringa – Faculty of Law, at the University of Waikato. He spoke in December at the Dev-Bet Conference on Christchurch about the situation in West Papua which he has first hand experience of. He would welcome the opportunity to speak to your church and inform people about what is going on in West Papua. He can be contacted by email
Taking action in New Zealand
Publicity and spreading the news about West Papua is important. For many years there has been a lack of attention by mainstream media and censorship by the Indonesian authorities as to what is going on there.
Support the West Papua Action Network – by advertising their work, inviting speakers and making linkages to churches and people in West Papua. Visit www.wpan.org for lists of things your church can do.
Make some noise about companies who have benefitted from the situation. For example, the NZ SuperFund no longer invests in Freeport McMoRan due to human rights breaches.
Support people and groups through prayer and financial contributions.
We the New Zealand Baptist Union as a whānau (family) of Baptist churches believe that the Gospel of Christ reconciles humanity in relationship with God, one another and the wider creation (i.e. land, sea, air, flora, fauna surrounding us) in fulfillment of humanity’s original calling to image God through the ministry of faithful stewardship in creation (Gen. 1:26-28). Read More
This presentation describes a journey taken by people in the Baptist Church in Aotearoa New Zealand to alert their fellow brethren of the ongoing injustices in West Papua. Awareness leads to action and the Baptist Union is keen to encourage people to speak up about what is happening in West Papua.
Figure 1: Grasberg Mine. Image by Alfindra Primaldhi