Indigenous Christian Papuans in Eastern Indonesia are facing genocide and in desperate need of support and prayers, says a researcher for the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (RLC).
Papuans, often Christian leaders, are frequently killed by the TNI (the Indonesia military), who are constantly trying to provoke retaliation that could be claimed to justify a full scale massacre against the 'separatist threat,' reported RLCs Elizabeth Kendal in the April 13 release of the Religious Prayer Bulletin.
The TNI terrorizes Papuans from helicopters, shooting civilians, burning villages and churches, and forcing thousands to flee their homes and hide in the jungle where they die of starvation, illness or injury, Kendal added.
Eastern Indonesias Papua (formerly Irian Jaya) forms the western portion of the island of New Guinea. Although it has been memorably highlighted in Don Richardson's well known missionary tales 'Peace Child' and 'Lords of the Earth,' many people worldwide have not even heard of Papua or confuse it with the independent nation of Papua New Guinea (PNG) in the eastern part of New Guinea
According to Operation World, more than 90 percent of indigenous Papuans are officially regarded as Christian, mostly Protestant. An amazing statistic, sources say, since Papuans were animists and headhunters only 50 years ago.
Since 1969, Papua has had a history of violent oppression by the Indonesian military (TNI), with demographic dilution through a government program of massive transmigration of Javanese Muslims, Kendel stated in her report.
Papuans are politically marginalized, racial tension and religious intolerance have flourished, and Islamic Indonesian culture dominates, the RLC researcher added.
Kendel stated that what is of utmost concern is systematic 'ethnic cleansing' by military operations, and the (possibly deliberate) introduction of AIDS and infected pigs. (Melanesian Papuans eat pigs but Indonesian Muslims do not.)
According to official figures, some 100,000 Papuans have died from factors directly resulting from Indonesian occupation. Unofficial figures, however, bring the death toll to about 800,000.
The Indonesians do all this for economic gain. They want Papua so they can exploit its timber and mineral resources. The notorious and systemically corrupt TNI also profits from 'business' in Papua, Kendel added. Meanwhile the UN and various Western governments turn a blind eye for political gain. They want Indonesia as an ally.
According to Kendel, TNI-backed pro-Indonesian militias and Laskar Jihad terrorists are armed and ready for a major ethnic cleansing campaign in Papua.
Papua, as part of Indonesia and the 'dar al-Islam' (land of Islam), is being 'Indonesianised and Islamised, she stated. The Papuans are facing genocide while those with worldly power turn away.
However, as one Papuan Christian leader recently said to Kendel, We are not alone. We have our Lord, Jesus Christ. He created us and put us here in this land of Papua.
It is his will that we are here. We have his Spirit. And we have you, our brothers and sisters who support us and pray for us. We are not alone, we are together.
In the recently released Geneva Report titled, A Perspective on Global Religious Freedom: Challenges Facing the Christian Community, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) noted that countries influenced by Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism have all recently seen their share of this form of religious intolerance in various expressions.
In some cases, we see it with the face of government sponsored religious nationalism, and in others, with that of non-government factions engaged in extremist activities, often with the tacit approval of their governments, the WEA reported.
The global ministry says that the use of political power to enforce religious conformity continues to be a disturbing trend around the world.