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Forced nationalism: How Papuans wrestle with the Church

Church should speak out against right abuses and not promote 'false patriotism' espoused by Indonesia, critics say

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Forced nationalism: How Papuans wrestle with the Church

Papuans attend a Sept. 24 protest in Papua's Nabire district to demand an independence referendum. (Photo supplied)

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The slogan "100 percent Catholic and 100 percent Indonesian" was first coined by Indonesian bishop and national hero Albertus Soegijapranata during the fight against Dutch colonialism in the 1940s. 

To Indonesian Catholics today, it emphasizes the spirit of nationalism. However, Catholics look on it differently in Papua, an Indonesian region still marked by conflict and where many harbor aspirations for their own independence.

A group of Catholics and activists in the country’s easternmost region recently called on Catholic Church leaders to stop using a slogan which they said represented Indonesian nationalism and not their own.

"Chanting or reciting this slogan implies that people recognize themselves as Indonesian 100 percent. The situation in Papua is different — we are 100 percent pro-Papuan independence,” said one such activist, Korneles Siep.

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