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We'll be extinct: West Papua church calls on international community to stop Indonesia from forcing racist Otsus Law

Tabloid JUBI - July 16, 2021

Jayapura, Jubi – The West Papuan Council of Church (WPCC) has spoken in an online forum organized by the International Coalition for Papua (ICP) on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, asking the Pacific and international community to stop the Indonesian government's racism toward the West Papuan people, which is perpetuated by the government-designed Special Autonomy (Otsus) Law planned to be ratified on Thursday.

The forum was attended by representatives of, among others, the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (PIANGO), the United Evangelical Mission (UEM), the West Papua Project, the Franciscans International, and the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC).

Evangelical Church in Indonesia (GIDI) president Dorman Wandikbo said that the Otsus Law had become an entrance for the gross human rights violations in West Papua in the past 20 years, including the Biak massacre, the Abepura massacre, the Paniai massacre, and the Wamena massacre.

"Therefore, the Papuan people reject the continuation of the Otsus Law," he said.

Wandikbo cited the result of a study conducted by the Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI), which said the root of the problems in Papua was racism, which had caused Papuans to suffer culturally, politically, and economically despite being given a special autonomy.

Wandikbo asked for the international community's help in underlining rejection toward the continuation of Otsus Law. He also said that the COVID-19 pandemic must not be used as an excuse to hamper special envoy on human rights from entering West Papua.

"This is an emergency situation. We, the Papuan people, will be extinct in 20 or 30 years if something is not done. God put us here in the land of Papua not to be killed, enslaved, nor called monkeys," he said.

Rights Lawyer Veronica Koman said International organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were indeed de facto banned from entering the region.

Socratez Yoman of the WPCC, who is also the head of the West Papua Baptist Church, said that Indonesian lawmakers had been deliberating the Special Autonomy Law while ignoring the law itself, which required the Papuan People's Assembly (MRP) and the Papuan Legislation Council (DPRP) to be included in the evaluation and amendment of the law.

"In fact, the MRP and DPRP are not included in the deliberation process. Only Jakarta has to agree, the Papuan people are left out," Yoman said.

Yoman also said that in the upcoming Otsus Law, the Indonesian government planned the division of provinces into more provinces despite the low population in Papua.

"Who is this [plan] really for? It will only result in more military basis, more migrants coming from the other provinces in Indonesia, and we will be a minority in our own land and eventually be extinct," he said.

In the online forum, sister Rode Wanimbo of the WPCC also gave updates on the situation in West Papua, as she has just returned from Puncak regency's capital of Ilaga on Tuesday.

"There are 11 civilians shot dead in Ilaga from April to July this year. There are also nine churches destroyed and bombed by the Indonesian Military from above," she said.

Wanimbo said that there were currently 4,862 displaced people accommodated in six districts in Puncak, not including the displaced people from Paluga village and Tegelobak village.

"They don't build a tent, the community let the displaced people stay in their homes. No health service for these displaced people. They got food aid from the local government once but mostly it was from the church, parliament members, and the people," she said.

Responding to the WPCC updates on the latest condition in West Papua, WCC director of International Affairs Peter Prove said that the WCC had held a bilateral meeting in Geneva with the Indonesian government and other diplomats in a hope to bring the Papuan issue to light, especially in addressing the internally displaced people in West Papua and pushing for humanitarian actors to be allowed to enter the region.

"I have also talked to the UN Special Adviser that West Papua has a high risk for genocide," he said.

Source: https://en.jubi.co.id/west-papuan-extinct-stop-otsus-law