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10/13/2022 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – In Papua, a tumultuous majority-Christian region of Indonesia, over 100 Catholic priests have signed a petition seeking fair trials in cases of violence.  

Last week, from October 4-9, more than 106 priests met for a conference during which they adopted a five-point declaration demanding justice for violent crimes committed against Christians in the region.  

Specifically, the priests cited the August 22 slaughter of four Christians in central Papua by six Indonesian soldiers. The Christians were accused of having links with separatist rebels. The soldiers who killed them will be prosecuted internally in a military court.  

According to the declaration, the priests “back all legal processes which are being carried out to reveal cases of intimidation, violence, murder, and massacre in Timika city as well as in Nduga and Maybrat districts. We reject intervention by any party attempting to obstruct the legal processes.” 

The declaration went on to state, “We strongly denounce any form of racial acts, intimidation, violence, and murder carried out in inhumane ways against the Papuan people as well as outsiders. 

“We call on the central government — president and the parliament — and the police as well as NGOs to tackle each problem emerging in the Land of Papua with a peaceful heart and mind and through a dialogue of peace,” the declaration added. 

Father Dominikus Dulione Hodo, the coordinator of diocesan priests in Papua, said that the priests had concluded that most legal processes in the region lacked efficiency and transparency.  

In Indonesia’s majority-Christian easternmost province of Papua, violent attacks have been prevalent since its annexation by Indonesia in the 1960s. Separatists have waged war against security forces, causing immense conflict and displacement of civilians. Tension has recently escalated as the government plans to divide the region further from two to six provinces, signaling a threat to independence for civilians. 

According to the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, 58 incidents, largely shootings, involving soldiers and civilians in Papua between 2017-2021 were recorded. 69 civilian deaths and 135 injuries were reported. 

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