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Christians praise president after talks

Church leaders say government is committed to peaceful Papua settlement

Father Neles Tebay Father Neles Tebay
  • Margaretha Krismi, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • February 3, 2012
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President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has won praise from 13 Christian leaders he met on Wednesday after reiterating his commitment to resolving problems through dialogue and bringing prosperity and peace to the restive province.

“Church leaders in Papua have heard the government’s commitment to resolve problems in Papua through open and peaceful dialogue. They welcome any initiative to find the best solution,” said Reverend Herman Saud, co-chairman of the Communion of Churches in Papua and who was at the meeting.

He was speaking yesterday at a press conference at the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial) offices in Jakarta.

He said Christian leaders are ready to work with individuals, groups and institutions supporting a dialogue between the national government and Papuans.

Father Neles Tebay, coordinator of the Papuan Peace Network, meanwhile revealed the meeting also produced an agreement to encourage an intensive dialogue with all elements in Papua.

“Open and peaceful dialogue is important for both the government and Papuans to find mutual understanding,” he said.

Everyone in Papua and even Papuans in exile overseas must be included in such talks, he added.

Commenting on the meeting with the president, Reverend Lipiyus Biniluk, chairman of the Papua branch of the Evangelical Church Assembly in Indonesia, said the talks did not represent a dialogue between the Papuans and the national government.

“Instead, we regarded the meeting as the moral responsibility of Christian leaders and the president to prepare a true and dignified dialogue between Papuans and the national government,” he said, adding that the communion will announce 2012 as the “Year of Dialogue in Papua.”

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