Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta – Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) lawmaker Jazuli Juwaini has asked Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto to pay closer attention to people entering Papua claiming to be missionaries.
Jazuli made the request at Prabowo's premiere meeting on Monday with the House of Representatives' Commission I, which oversees defense, intelligence and foreign affairs.
"Forgive me, Pak Defense Minister, I don't mean to touch on a sensitive issue but it cannot be denied that there are many planes coming into Papua carrying missionaries," he said at the meeting.
He added that Commission I members had just returned from a visit to the restive region and had been told by Papuan officials that they found it difficult to verify whether these people were actually missionaries.
"We're not worried about the proselytizing because that is already regulated by law," he said. "Our concern is that the people claiming to be missionaries actually have a different agenda, and might be the culprits behind the rioting."
He added that he did not want to "accuse anyone" but that the matter warranted further scrutiny.
Intermittent protests and rioting have broken out throughout Papua and West Papua since mid August, triggered by racial abuse toward Papuan university students in Surabaya, East Java.
Government, police and military officials have claimed the rioting was triggered by "foreign parties" particularly by pro-Papuan independence activists living abroad.