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Renewed call for peacekeepers

Pacific Conference of Churches Statement - October 3, 2019

A Pacific peacekeeping force should be mobilised under the auspices of the United Nations to enable a peaceful solution to the current violence in Papua.

Pacific Conference of Churches' General Secretary, Reverend James Bhagwan, called for a peacekeeping force after shots were fired in an area near the Papua New Guinea border on Tuesday.

"We are extremely concerned by the most recent deaths in Wamena in the Central Highlands and the extra-judicial killings of Papuans by Indonesian security forces," Rev Bhagwan said.

"Retaliatory attacks will continue along ethnic and religious lines if immediate steps are not taken to bring about stability and an end to violence by state-sponsored armed civilian militia.

"The Indonesian security forces have shown their blatant support for one side of this tragic conflict and cannot be trusted to remain neutral and protect all people."

Rev Bhagwan said a credible option would be for a United Nations peacekeeping force made up of experienced Pacific peacekeepers to be mobilised and sent to observe the situation.

"We must help create a situation in which parties to this conflict can sit and discuss the future of Papua in a cordial manner," Rev Bhagwan said.

"Peacekeepers from Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu have been deployed successfully in times of crisis in Bougainville and Timor Leste, helping to bring about peace.

"Of course, we would look to Australia and New Zealand for logistical support for such an operation."

Tensions in Papua escalated in August after Papuans refused to raise the Indonesian flag during independence celebrations. When non-Papuans made racial slurs against the indigenous population, protests broke out and security forces reacted brutally, shooting and killing civilians.Papua's churches have called for a UN intervention through a visit to the territory by its human rights commissioner.

They also want the removal of troops and dialogue between the Indonesian government and representatives of the Papuan people.

This call has been supported by the 32 members of the Pacific Conference of Churches..

Source: https://pacificconferenceofchurches.org/f/renewed-call-for-peacekeepers#8422765b-3839-415e-a17e-954ae0e827af