Joint Statement on the New York Agreement by the Ecumenical Forum of Papuan Church Leaders

“Clean Your Lectern Before Your Speech”
(The Papuan Church Is Facing A Humanitarian Chrisis)

Today, on 15th August 2016, 54 years ago the New York Agreement was signed by the government of the Dutch Royal Empire and the Republic of Indonesia (without involvement of the Papuan people), to decide over the political status of West Papua/ Irian Barat. The New York Agreement became the political foundation for the long-lasting conflict in West Papua (Tanah Papua) until today. Looking at the situation of the people during the last six months, we as the Papuan churches are re-experiencing the dark periods and powerlessness as it happened in the 1960s, when confrontation and acts of terror occurred all over West Papua/ Irian Barat in order to win the referendum (PEPERA).

We feel like re-experiencing the disappointment, as it was felt by the first Bishop of Jayapura,  Mgr. Rudolf Stavermann, during the implementation of the referendum, particularly as he saw the inhuman acts of terror, arrests and detention, torture and executions which affected Papuan people in multiple regions. Driven by his disappointment, Bishop Stavermann repeatedly met with high UN officials in Jayapura (period between 1965-1969 during implementation of the referendum) and reminded them to uphold the spirit of the New York Agreement and respect the Papuan people's rights to elect freely for their own future, but his remarks were ignored by the United Nations.   

We have learned, that various incidents and acts by authorities during the past six months have put our people in a position, where they remain helpless. These incidents have resulted in the following humanitarian crisis:

1. The deaths of 60 children and adults in Mbua, Nduga Regency between October 2015 and March 2016 due to a mysterious disease. In February, as the epidemic took place, President Jokowi visited the Nduga Regency (Keneyam) for almost one hour, but unfortunately the president did not mention the disease affecting our people there in his speech. He instead prioritized to speak about the development of a main road, which was built by the military.

2. During the two years of his leadership, President Jokowi only did a great job in promoting his image through discourse on Papua. According to our assessment, the president's repeated visits to Papua did not lead to any changes, apart from the promotion of his positive leadership image, considering numerous statements, such as opening access to Papua for foreign journalists, which constitute only a discourse but have never been implemented until now. The effort of promoting his image has also become obvious in the establishment of the traditional market for Papuan Market Women (Pasar mama-mama) in Percetakan Street, Jayapura, which had been inaugurated by president Jokowi himself in April 2016. The market building in Sentani, which had been built by a task force under president Jokowi and was initially promoted as being reserved for Papuan market women, is currently left empty without any clear designation.   

3. The attitude of the Head of Papuan Regional Police (POLDA PAPUA), Paulus Waterpauw, is maintaining and fueling the Papua conflict. This became obvious, when Police chief Waterpauw issued an edict on the expression of opinion in public, in which he listed the names of civil society organisations KNPB, NRFPB, IPWP, PRD, TPN, OPM and ULMWP as prohibited separatist organisations. The Police chief's act truly contradicts legal regulations, because it stigmatizes these organisations as prohibited without any involvement of valid legal procedures or a court verdict, as a valid legal ground to classify these organisations as prohibited. The Police chief's edict only limits the democratic right regarding the Papuan people's freedom of expression. The police chief's initiative to resettle 360 residents from Timika, who are currently seeking refuge in Sentani, clearly indicates, that there is an effort to create horizontal conflicts, considering the tensions between residents in Sentani during the past two months. We wonder, why the Police chief and the police did not directly arrest the perpetrators who have participated in the warfare in Timika, which would subside the conflict?

4. The mysterious killings of dozens of young Papuans since April 2016 in various cities, which the police simply considers as deaths due to traffic accidents. This can be observed at the case causing the death of Roberth Jitmau, the secretary of the SOLPAP, which has not yet been resolved by the law enforcement authorities until today. This shows that certain parties are attempting to create fear amongst the people.

5. The state allows that racism against Papuan people is being preserved. This has become obvious by the statement of Luhut Panjaitan, in which he suggested that Papuans who are participating in the ULMWP may just go to the Pacific region; the racist statement by Muluta Farhad Abbas (celebrity and lawyer), and most recently the insults by local mass organisations in Jogja, whose members called Papuan students 'apes'. It is most unfortunate that the state and state officials have not made any significant responses to initiate legal proceedings in accordance with applicable law.

6. The state efforts to systematically destroy local food by forcing Papuans to depend on rice. Besides the state program 'rice for the poor' (RASKIN), which has reached even most remote areas of Papua, there are multiple reports about policies regarding hundreds of hectares of land in various places of West Papua (Tanah Papua), being converted into rice fields members of the military TNI.     
Paying attention to the above mentioned dynamics, we would like to make the following statement:

Firstly, regarding the New York Agreement as the foundation of the Papua conflict which has caused all the bitterness to god's people in this land for 54 years, we ask all parties which have been involved in signing the agreement and accepted the unjust result of the referendum (PEPERA), to take responsibility for the safety of indigenous Papuan's lives.

Secondly, we reject the “conspired” commemoration of the Indonesian Independence day on 17th August on a large scale in West Papua in the midst of people' s suffering as the state's attempt to cover-up the 'ulcers' which have been caused by the state itself;

Thirdly, we thank the ULMWP and Papuan organisations as well as civil society elements under its  umbrella for having taken the long road in the past and today to struggle in non-violent ways. You have created a light which illuminates the darkness above the heads of every Papuan;   

Fourthly, we also thank all parties which have shown solidarity with the suffering of our people, whether they are individuals, groups, organisations, mass media, public figures or state leaders in West Papua, Indonesia and various countries, who have chosen to walk the path of suffering with the Papuan people. All your support resembles a spirit providing us with strength.      

Fifthly, we urge all people of Papua to remain unruly, persevere in prayer, and taking care of their personal and family lives as well as our culture and identity for the prosperity of our future generations.

This is our press release

Jayapura, 15th Agustus 2016



  Rev. Dorman Wandikbo, S.Th.            



Rev. Dr. Benny Giay  



Rev. Socratez SofyanYoman, S.Th., MA