Indonesian Bishops call for dialogue in West Papua

Representatives of the Catholic Church in Indonesia, in particular from the West Papua province, have held talks with the country's Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs. The meeting was held on 3 November at Mr Mahfud MD's residence, and were aimed at discussing the various problems afflicting the restive province. Following the killing of Mr Rufinus Tigau, a Catholic catechist from Intan Jaya District, Papua, the Catholic Church leaders met with key Indonesian security officials to urge the Indonesian Government to ease tensions through dialogue. The meeting took place at Minister Mahfud MD's residence with the objective to discuss the on-going conflicts and problems faced by the easternmost Province of Indonesia. It was attended by: Mgr. Aloysius Murwito, OFM - the Bishop Agats; Mgr. Petrus Canisius Mandagi MSC -the Bishop of Amboina and at the same time was the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Merauke; and Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, President of the Bishops' Conference of Indonesia (KWI). Bishop Mandagi spoke to UCA News that the meeting was held for an hour and they discussed "various problems in Tanah Papua land, especially the violence."

The Indonesian Bishops are concerned with the situation. During the meeting, there was no discussion on a specific case. Instead, the conversation was focused on the suffering created by the violence, whether for the indigenous Papuans, non-indigenous Papuans or members of security forces.

The discussion continued with a statement that "the Papuans are good people. No one, neither the Military, Police nor Church workers should look down on them or underestimate them. The military intervention only exacerbates the tensions. Finally, we hope that the state immediately stops the violence in Tanah Papua" (cf., 03 November 2020, Editor Dewi Wulandari).

      What happened after the meeting? On Friday November 6, 2020, the Indonesian National Armed Forces/Indonesian Police Force (TNI / POLRI) continued operations in Sugapa Intan Jaya, Papua.
The Joint Defense Regional Commands (Kogabwilhan) III ensured that the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) and Indonesian National Police (POLRI) would continue the law enforcement operations against the armed criminal groups in Sugapa - Intan Jaya - Papua. They said, "After the killing of First Private Firdaus Kurniawan by the armed criminal group on November 6, 2020, we will not stop our law enforcement operation" (see

R   What do the Priests appeal for?

Our FIRST appeal is addressed to both parties in conflict, namely the Indonesian National Army Forces/Indonesian Police Force (TNI/POLRI) and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-OPM). We request both parties whose members are also human beings with dignity to immediately stop the violence and open up a space in their hearts for a dialogue with dignity that can be mediated by either the State or an independent and neutral group. We believe that violence will never resolve the problem in Tanah Papua; on the contrary, it will create more suffering and new problems. Violence will give birth to a revenge and more violence, which at the end will kill life itself. Dear Brothers and Sisters, remember that "the salvation of human life is not at the tip of a gun"

Our SECOND appeal, addressed to THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDONESIA as our Supreme Commander, to immediately hold a meeting with the Chief of the Indonesian Police (KAPOLRI) and the Commander of the Indonesian National Armed Forces (PANGLIMA TNI) to evaluate the impact of deployment of the additional troops to the Tanah Papua, and to immediately withdraw all joint non-territorial troops of Indonesian National Armed Forces and Indonesian Police Force (TNI/POLRI) from throughout Tanah Papua.

Our THIRD appeal is addressed to the Papua Peoples' Assembly (Majelis Rakyat Papua/MRP) AND the Papuan People's Representative Council (DPRP) of both Papua and Papua Barat Provinces to immediately enact regulations that will bring more benefits for the indigenous Papuans (Orang Asli Papua - OAP). In our opinion, the formulation of regulations that are contextual and have the value of partisanship, is a very dignified step in respecting and saving the indigenous Papuans who are now on the verge of extinction.

Our FOURTH CALL, addressed to THE GOVERNOR OF PAPUA, Mr Lukas Enembe. We support the statement of the Administrator of the Timika Diocese, Fr. Marthen E. Kuayo Pr, on October 11, 2020 who asked Governor Lukas Enembe to revoke the Special Mining Business Permit Area Recommendation Letter (WIUPK) in Intan Jaya, if it is true that the Governor of Papua made such a recommendation. We believe that the exploitation of Wabu Block is the cause of conflict and casualties and the displacement of local people.

Our FIFTH appeal is addressed to the PRESIDENT OF THE BISHOPS' CONFERENCE OF INDONESIA (KWI), Mr Ignatius Cardinal Suharyo and all members of KWI. We, the priests in Papua would like to ask: Why, the leaders of the Indonesian Catholic Church did not discuss holistically, seriously and thoroughly, the longest-running conflict in Tanah Papua at the KWI annual meeting? What's wrong with this Tanah Papua? Once again we hope, long for, and ask, that the Cardinal and the Bishops throughout Indonesia not to remain silent or as if they do not want to know about the wounded condition of the humanity of God's people in Tanah Papua, especially the Melanesian Papuans who are on their way to extinction. We feel both amazed and excluded, because we notice that KWI was so quick to express its position and sorrow for the violent incidents that took place in Lewonu - Lembantongoa - Palolo - Sigi Regency - Central Sulawesi, while the grief and anxiety as well as the killing of Papuan people seemed to have escaped from the KWI's attention, protection and compassion.

Our sixth appeal, addressed to the PAPUA EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE (consisting of four Bishops and one Diocesan Administrator) as well as to the leaders of the Catholic religious Orders and Congregations who work throughout Tanah Papua. We, the priests throughout Tanah Papua are longing for a firm and clear preferential position in favour of the life of the indigenous Papuan people and others who are also in Tanah Papua, in particular those who were killed and whose conscience has been wounded. We need to be guided by the Shepherds who take concrete actions to save God's People, as demonstrated by the late Bishop Herman M. Munninghoff, OFM and the late Bishop John Philip Saklil, Pr. They had raised the attention toward the reality of the suffering of God's people in the Tanah Papua. But now, it feels as if their fighting spirit has gone, buried with their stiff bodies in a grave. Where are the voices of our leaders today to respond to this human tragedy on Earth of Cenderawasih?

Our SEVENTH CALL is addressed to the GOVERNMENT of INDONESIA and THE INVESTORS. Keep in mind that Papua land is not an empty land nor a no man's land. The landowners of Papua are the indigenous Papuans whose land is also their heritage. This land, has been clearly divided to the owners divided in Seven Indigenous Territories, which is Lapago, Meepago, Ha Anim, Bomberay, Domberay, Sairery and Mamta.

Our EIGHTH CALL is addressed to DIFFERENT GROUPS WHO ARE INVOLVED IN: Nusantara, KNPB, Barisan Merah Putih, Bintang Kejora, Pro Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (Pro NKRI) and Pro Papua Independence (Pro Papua Merdeka) throughout Papua. We are all human beings who believe in God the Almighty and human beings who are just and civilized. Let us solve all problems in Papua in a dignified manner. Bear in mind that there are differences in ideology and opinion, but let us sit together in an atmosphere of mutual respect to find the right solution for peace in Tanah Papua.

Our ninth appeal, is addressed to LOCAL GOVERNMENT LEADERS ALL OVER TANAH PAPUA: THE GOVERNORS, THE MAYORS, AND THE REGENTS. We really support and pray for your leadership Tanah Papua. You are entrusted by God to lead all people in Tanah Papua to live side by side in a peaceful, just, and prosperous way. See faithfully with your eyes the realities on this land! Lead this country independently based on a sincere conscience without any defects from intervention and intimidation from anyone, which will only destroy the stability, order, peace and justice in the area of government that you lead. We also ask for special attention to foster the local government officials and field officers so that they are dedicated to leadership that there is a spirit of responsible, and sincere service for the safety and welfare of the community at large.

Our TENTH appeal, addressed to POLICY-MAKERS ON MIGRATION POLICY. To the Central and Provincial Governments, we hope while reminding you of what we have said above, that the Papua land is not empty and not a no-man's land. Therefore, there must be a clear policy regarding migration. There should be efforts to limit or even stop the flow of migration that has been happening in a structured or unstructured manner to Papua. These efforts must be made to anticipate migration and its impacts so that relations between migrants and the indigenous Papuans do not become increasingly strained and tense. At the same time, there must be a minimization of the social friction which results in stress and the elimination of the indigenous Papuans on their own land of their own ancestors.


We, Pastors throughout Papua agree and firmly offer a DIALOGUE APPROACH. This approach has become a new and dignified policy to build Tanah Papua that is stable, just and peaceful, and prosperous. At the same time WE CONDEMN ANY VIOLENCE ON THIS LAND. The dialogue we offer is a COMPREHENSIVE DIALOGUE that can resolve the longest-running conflict in Papua. This dialogue is not meant to find out who is wrong and who is right, but rather to find real truths that lead all parties to justice and peace. In Faith and Hope, we firmly believe that Dialogue will never kill, Dialogue will never hurt, and Dialogue will never make us stupid. It is precisely when we use wrong methods such as acts of violence that have no humanity, that we will leave physical and mental wounds. For whatever the reason, every act of violence in the form of murder and slaughter, as well as the neglect of human beings who are created by God, is wrong, sinful and very cruel.

Read the full statement endorsed by 147 Priests in West Papua