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ICC Note: Indonesian special forces in the province of Papua have left one Christian congregation “bewildered” after they decided to raid a Catholic parish, breaking down one of the doors. The raid was ostensibly part of a search for weapons, though none were found in the church. Christian villagers in Papua have in the past been caught up in the wider conflict between Indonesian settlers and native separatists looking to annex the island from Indonesian control. Christians fear discrimination at the hands of Indonesian soldiers, who are pre-dominantly Muslim.  
8/13/2013 Indonesia (AsiaNews) –  Indonesian security forces broke down the front door of St Mary Magdalene Parish Church in Paniai Regency, Papua, a province in eastern Indonesia that is rich in oil and minerals.
The desecration of the sacred place took place at the end of a Sunday Mass as part of a joint national police-army operation against arms trafficking involving a local separatist group.
According to local activists, early on Sunday 4 August, soldiers surprised the local Catholic community by ordering them to feed some pigs, not unusual among native Papuans who traditionally breed pigs. Meanwhile, the security forces inspected the parish church but came up empty handed.
An officer ordered a parishioner to open the doors to the sacristy, where vestments and other sacred objects are kept. However, because finding the key was taking its time, one of the soldiers decided to kick down the door. Nothing was found in the building’s attic and basement, no weapons, ammunitions or explosives.
The soldiers eventually went away, leaving parishioners under shock, bewildered and angry for the damages caused to their place of worship.
In 2001, Indonesian authorities adopted a law granting the province “special autonomy”. In practice though, the law has never been implemented and indigenous Papuans are still complaining of “unfair treatment”.

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