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Friday, May 18, 2007

West Papua, Indonesia and the Kingmi Church Synod

Recent news this week from West Papua. See also previous post which includes links of interest.

Police occupy Kingmi Church Synod & demonstration planned by Christian congregations

Reports form Jayapura last night and this morning indicate that the Indonesian Police in Jayapura have taken control of the Kingmi Synod Office. The Kingmi Synod is now occupied by the Police.

Last night members of the Church, including Rev Zebelum Karubaba, the chair of the Kingmi Papuan Synod, were reported to be attempting to negotiate with Police.

Other senior staff also present at the time included Rev Benny Giay, Chair of Bureau of Justice & Peace at the Kingmi Church & Rev Noakh Nawipa is Chair of the Walter Post Theological College, who was previously assaulted & injured by Indonesian Police when they attempted to take control of the Church on 30 December 2006.

Sources in Jayapura also state that a big demonstration is planned in Jaypaura at 10 am by the Kingmi congregation. These said that these demonstration would be supported by the other Christian congregations in Jayapura. It was said that the demonstration would protest against the unlawful occupation of the Kingmi Synod by Police and that the Kingmi Church should have its full right to exist with full control of its property in West Papua.

It appears that this Police action is politically motivated because the Kingmi church and its members are active in the campaign to secure the Human Rights of West Papuan people and they speak against the continuing pattern of Indonesian State violence and repression of the West Papuan people.

It was also reported from Jayapura that members of the Kingmi Church, are asking the Christian & Missionary Alliance (CAMA) in Jakarta to publicly recognise the right of their church to maintain an independent synod in West Papua.

These sources believe that the Indonesian Government is supporting the GKII (The Tabernacle Bible Church of Indonesia) to take control of the Kingmi church in West Papua. It is understood that the CAMA has sided with and supported the GKII in this action.

Update on Indonesian Police Raid on Kingmi Church Synod 15 May 2007

The following report is based on personal communication with Human Rights workers in Jayapura, West Papua late today.

There ware 200 Kingmi congregation participated in the peaceful protest outside the Synod today. They have sat down on the road and blocked one lane of traffic. They are on the main road along the waterfront in downtown Jayapura - Jalan Sam Ratulangi. It was expected that they would remain there all day and go home at night and then return in the morning. No one has been arrested.

The Police presence at the demonstration was about 50 Police (both Brimob, the paramilitary police and Polres normal police) and these were outside the Synod office. The Polres were surrounding the demonstrators. An unknown number of other Police officers were inside the office. There were also 6 police trucks and a water cannon present at the demonstration. There was Brimob personnel on the roof and outside the Synod. About 6 police on the roof of the Synod had M16 style rifles and others have video cameras.

There was report of numbers of Intel (Indonesian Intelligence officers) were also present.

There did not appear to be any sign of people from the GKII Church today.

The Police occupation of the Synod is clearly in violation of the court decision of 30 April 2007. This Indonesian court decision clearly recognised the right of the Kingmi church to exist and maintain its property and disallowed the GKII action to seize the property.

Contacts say that the Police administration want to portray of the
issue as an 'internal church dispute'. It is believe the police motivation is to obscure their motives to disrupt the Kingmi Church. The Police actions appears to be politically motivated and is a attempt to stop the emergence of the Kingmi Church as large independent West Papuan organisation.

Related to this is Police accusations that the Kingmi Church of being the Church of the OPM. (The OPM or Free Papua Movement is the name of the banned West Papuan liberation struggle.)

Many members of the Kingmi church are involved in the campaign for peace & justice in West Papua.

The nature of the large police action, the apparent lack of legal basis for the action and the history of the Kingmi church suggest a politically motivated action.

The Kingmi church is said to be the third largest church congregation in West Papua with the majority of its members in the Highland areas.