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Papuan church demand Indonesian police cede control of office

Radio New Zealand - May 16, 2007

Indonesian Police are maintaining control of the Kingmi Synod Church office in the capital of Papua province, Jayapura. Earlier today police arrested dozens of Papuans who were among up to five hundred Kingmi Church members protesting in front of the office.

The demonstration against the occupation of the building by paramilitary and normal police for the past three days has now moved to the Provincial Assembly building.

The church claim the police are violating a court ruling from last year upholding the Kingmi's claim to the office following the church's move to seperate from the GKII church of Indonesia.

Benny Giay from the Justice and Peace Secretariat Catholic Diocese in Jayapura says the church members want their property back.

"They demanded the police chief to uphold that court decision. And they also demanded the police chief remove the police line so the church can reoccupy it (their building) again." He says there are conflicting interpretation of the court ruling.

"According to the Chief of Police, Kingmi church won the court case, but it was not asset or property. That interpretation was only made up by the police because they've been accusing the Kingmi Synod of Papua of being as religious arm of the Independence Movement."

Benny Giay says the church members want their property back, because church is the only institution Papuans have left which Jakarta doesn't control.