UCA News

Indonesia

Indonesian prelate calls for restraint in restive Papua

Bishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi urges security forces to adopt more peaceful strategies following deadly clashes

Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Indonesian prelate calls for restraint in restive Papua

People react as a building burns during protests in Wamena in Indonesia’s Papua province on Sept. 23, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

Share this article :
A bishop in Papua has called on security forces to look at a more peaceful approach to addressing unrest in the Indonesian province following a year blighted by violence that killed hundreds of people.

Bishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi, apostolic administrator of Merauke Archdiocese, called on the military and police, who have often been criticized by rights groups for adopting a heavy-handed approach with local people, to deal with indigenous Papuans “with love and hope.”

“Please, abandon violent approaches such as beatings and use of arms," he said in a New Year message on Jan. 1. Every problem “must be resolved through dialogue, which requires patience,” he said.

He was referring to what he called a year of violence which saw clashes between authorities and pro-independence groups and unrest in several cities sparked by an alleged racist incident in East Java in August when several Papuan students were reportedly called monkeys, dogs and pigs while being arrested for allegedly defacing an Indonesian flag.

Rioting in September in the town of Wamena in response to the racist incident in East Java killed 40 people.

In a year-end report, Papua police chief Paulus Waterpauw said there were 23 shootings carried out by “armed criminal groups" in which 20 people were killed, including eight soldiers and two policemen.

Meanwhile, 257 civilians were killed and more than 50,000 displaced by unrest in the province’s Nduga district following the killing of construction workers by a separatist group in Dec. 2018.

Bishop Mandagi also criticized the continuing arrests of activists, who included several students who were hauled out of a Catholic church on Dec. 1 and detained for carrying the banned Morning Star flag. The flag is looked upon as a pro-independence symbol.

The bishop also called on ordinary Papuans to show more restraint in the face of provocations to avoid more victims of violence.

"Love conquers hatred, tenderness conquers violence, forgiveness conquers revenge, law enforcement defeats street justice," said Bishop Mandagi, who has been in charge of Merauke Archdiocese since August following the death of the previous apostolic administrator, Bishop John Philip Saklil of Timika.

Father Anselmus Amo, director of the archdiocese's Secretariat for Justice and Peace, echoed the bishop's call.

“Such a call is crucial for a better future in Papua, which has been a focal point of human rights abuses for years,” he told ucanews.

Theo Hesegem, chairman of the Central Mountains Law Enforcement and Human Rights Advocacy Network based in Wamena, Jayawijaya district, said a hard approach will not solve problems in Papua.

“The regional government, provincial government and NGOs have pleaded with Jakarta to ease its approach to security by withdrawing troops but have been ignored,” he told ucanews.

He said if there is no change in approach “it’s difficult to see a better humanitarian situation emerging this year.”

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
YOUR DAILY
NEWSLETTER
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
 
Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM

Publisher

Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."