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Churches in Tanah Papua Seek Justice, Peace and Stability

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Jayapura, Jubi – Amidst intimidation, illegal arrests, disappearances, torture and killings in Tanah Papua resulting from tensions between the Indonesian authorities and the Papuan pro-liberation groups, churches seek justice, peace, dignity and security for the Papuans.

The conflict in Tanah Papua (West Papua) has cost the lives of thousands since the late 1960s. A former Dutch colony placed under the United Nations administration in 1962, the region was unilaterally annexed by Indonesia and since then has experienced pro-independence insurgency. In 1969 Tanah Papua was formally incorporated into Indonesia, becoming Irian Jaya province.

Jan Bastian Rumbrar, ecumenical relations officer at the Evangelical Christian Church in Tanah Papua (GKITP) – a member church of the World Council of Churches (WCC) said, “The GKITP formed in 1958 following over 101 years of mission work laid down by German and Dutch missionaries, was tested with political dispute between Indonesia and the Dutch over the territory called Dutch New Guinea.”

“The human as well as spiritual development of communities at that time met with despair as preparation for an independent church was not followed by political independence for the Papuans who are the indigenous inhabitants of the territory,” he adds.

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On the contrary, Rumbrar says, oppression followed the integration of the territory into Indonesia on 1 May 1963 under the United States brokered New York Agreement.

While human rights violations have continued in the region, Rumbrar explains that the churches have played a strong role of being the “salt and light” (Matthew 5: 13-16) in a true biblical sense.

While human rights violations have continued in the region, Rumbrar explains that both Catholic and Protestant churches in Tanah Papua have voiced their cries, but little has been heard.

 

Concern over human right violations

Dr Fransina Yoteni, member of the WCC Central Committee from Tanah Papua and Rev. Alberth Yoku, chairperson of the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI-TP) underlined how difficult the situation in Tanah Papua remains. Human rights violations have been documented by the international organizations. Substantial actions are yet to be taken to end the violence against Papuans, they say.

These church leaders tell how economic impoverishment, inadequate health care and education systems and exploitation of resources have caused social and environmental degradation. They stress that development in Tanah Papua is only benefitting the political elite instead of common people.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, said, “The people of West Papua have been denied their basic human rights, including their right to self-determination. Their cry for justice and freedom has fallen largely on deaf ears.”

The WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, who visited Tanah Papua in 2012, said upon his return, “We support the struggle for human rights of the people of Papua. We urge an end to the on-going violence and impunity. We support the call for social and economic justice through serious dialogue and a concrete political process.”

The Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) has played a key role in demanding justice for the Papuan people. Supporting the struggle for justice and liberation from all forms of oppression, including from colonial legacies in the Pacific, have been longstanding mandates of the PCC. The PCC now strives to be more prophetic in advocating for the Papuan people in these very struggles.

“In the past few years, the PCC has sought to engage church leaders, fellow civil society, faith-based groups, governments and political leaders in the region not merely to raise awareness about, but more importantly to encourage concerted action against the oppression under Indonesian administration,” said François Pihaatae, PCC general secretary and member of the WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs.

“The PCC has renewed its commitment to accompany the Papuans inside Tanah Papua in their struggle against a daily oppressive reality and to contribute to breaking through their isolation,” Pihaatae added.

Yet advocacy efforts by the churches can be a challenge. Jan Rumbrar shares that any move by the churches can be considered either pro-independence or anti-government, that can lead to stigma that can result into accusation of treason and therefore imprisonment.

Rev. Benny Giay of the Evangelical Papua Church describes situation of churches in Tanah Papua like “sweet potatoes growing between two stones” – on the one hand, the desire of Papuan people for self-determination, and on the other hand, the determination of the Indonesian government to retain control.

 

Investment in dialogue and peace process

In 2011, local church leaders met with Indonesia’s then President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to promote a peaceful solution for Tanah Papua.  The church leaders handed over a letter to the president asking to have a dialogue with the Papun. They also asked Yudhoyono for stopping the Matoa Operation in Paniai, Papua, which caused 14 deaths and burning of villages in 2011. At the time Yudhoyono welcomed such a dialogue, yet shared his concerns regarding the territorial integrity of Indonesia.

To aid the peace process, the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI) has also establised a Papua Desk in Jakarta which undertakes research and advocacy on issues concerning Tanah Papua.

To support peace initiatives in Tanah Papua, the WCC Executive Committee issued a statement in 2012. The document urges the Indonesian authorities to take necessary steps to “release the political prisoners, to lift the ban on peaceful assembly of Papuans and to demilitarize Tanah Papua” and “enter into dialogue with indigenous Papuan people and to take adequate measures to protect their rights”.

WCC general secretary calls for justice and peace in Tanah Papua (WCC news release of 26 June 2012)
Consultation urges protection of human rights in Papua (WCC news release of 27 September 2013)
Read full text of the WCC Executive Committee statement
Indonesian president’s meeting with Papuan church leaders
(Blog by Andreas Harsono)
WCC member churches in Indonesia
http://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/churches-in-tanah-papua-seek-justice-peace-and-stability

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A story of Ruth Dolly Pagawak, Papuan woman who recovered from Covid-19

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Ruth Dolly Pagawak. -Jubi/Hans

Manokwari, Jubi – Ruth Dolly Pagawak, twenty years old Papuan woman who declared negatives after two swab checks, could go home. She finally can meet her baby and the rest of her family on Saturday afternoon, 16 May 2020 after being quarantined at Papua Barat Provincial Hospital.

Along with Pagawak, other patients H. Abdullah Appe (62 years old) and La Marra (65 years old) were also declared has recovered from the Coronavirus. Papua Barat Governor Dominggus Mandacan officially take three of them out of the hospital.

While wearing a mask and holding her health certificate tightly, Pagawak told that her recovery is God’s blessing. “This is because of the grace of Lord Jesus that I was declared recovered of the Coronavirus,” said Pagawak holding a bucket of flowers by her doctors and nurses.

During her medical treatment at the hospital, Pagawak always listened to doctors and the medical team who treated her. She declared that listening to the government and medical staffs’ advice during the treatment is very important. By doing that, the body immune will stronger to combat the virus.

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“During my treatment, I routinely consumed vitamins and complied the doctors’ orders. I was also tried not being stressful because I believed that I would recover,” she said.

Since she was tested positive of Coronavirus in the mid of April, Pagawak has not experienced the most severe symptom. She claimed to only experience light symptoms such as cough and runny nose.

“I never experienced severe symptoms such as shortness of breath. I just had a cold and a mild cough.”

As the first Papuan woman who recovers from Coronavirus in Papua Barat, Pagawak advised people, in particular native Papuans, not to underestimate this virus. Still, they also do not need to overwhelm panic.

“The point is we must remain vigilant. Wear a mask, wash our hand routinely and get enough rest. We cannot avoid this virus because it is not visible. Therefore, we must follow all medical advice by the government, and never forget to pray and beg for mercy and recovery from God,” she said.

Pagawak told that she initially didn’t believe in her initial test confirming that she was Coronavirus positive because she was in the postpartum period. But with the support and permission of her husband, she finally agreed to take an initial medical treatment at Manokwari Hospital separately from her baby. She then continued to quarantine at Papua Barat Provincial Hospital since 1 May.

“I initially didn’t believe that I am Coronavirus positive. I just delivered my first child, who was six weeks at the time. So, when they took my baby and me from Warmare Subdistrict to Manokwari Hospital, we were treated separately,” she said.

This young mother also thanked the quarantine team of Papua Barat Provincial Hospital because of treating her and other patients sincerely and pouring them with encouragement and motivation.

“Personally, I thank the medical team, doctors and everybody who involved in Papua Barat Provincial Hospital. They are noble-hearted people because they treated us nicely. They are warm and always motivate us; therefore, we remain motivated to recover,” she said.

The information from the Covid-19 Task Force Papua Barat stated that Pagawak’s baby is currently undergoing treatment by a paediatrician at Manokwari Hospital. The baby, on the contrary, was declared negative since the initial examination and treated separately from the mother.
Meanwhile, Papua Barat Governor Dominggus Mandacan hopes that local community and neighbours of the recovered patients to accept them when they return to their family and neighbourhood.

“I hope people can accept them when they return to their family. Their recovery was also the hard work of the Papua Barat Provincial medical staff as well as our prayers,” said Mandacan at the Papua Barat Hospital on Saturday (16/5/2020). (*)

 

 

Reporter: Hans Kapisa

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Joyce Lin, a pilot of MAF crashed plane was also an IT specialist graduate from MIT

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Joyce Lin. – maf.org

Jayapura, Jubi – An aircraft operated by Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) was reportedly being crashed and drown in Lake Sentani on Tuesday (12/5/2020). Locals reported the incident after hearing an explosion. After two minutes take-off from Sentani Airport to Mamit, Tolikara Regency, the aircraft lost contact with the air traffic control tower.

Tolikara Regent Usman Wanimbo told Jubi that the crashed aircraft was possibly carrying books and stationeries for Yayasan Papua Harapan based in Mamit. President GIDI, the Rev. Dorman Wandikbo, also said the same thing.

“The aircraft was carrying school books and stationeries to Mamit,” said the Rev. Wandikbo by phone to Jubi. The pilot of the crashed plane later identified as Joyce Lin, a US citizen. Her body found at a depth of 13 meters in Lake Sentani.

Joyce, according to the Rev. Wandikbo, had just flown in Papua, although she had many experiences flying the small aircraft.

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The website maf.org acknowledges Joyce Lin as a pilot and IT specialist. As a pilot, she flew the aircraft to help people living in remote and isolated areas by providing medical evacuation service for saving a life. She also transported logistic supplies for community development, missionaries, teachers, and humanitarian workers to these remote locations. Meanwhile, as an IT specialist, Joyce work to set up and maintain the computer networks for missionaries and humanitarian workers to contact their communities and to access information on the Internet.

Joyce Lin grew up in Colorado and Maryland. She involved in a non-denomination local evangelist church service from a young age. At the age of eight, she showed her interest in everything linked with computers, mainly computer programming. Her interest in aviation also developed at an early age when her neighbouring pilot took her to the local air show.

She later took the computer science in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and received a Bachelor of Science and Masters of Engineering from the MIT. Because she had an interest in aviation, she also obtained a certificate of the private pilot while still in college.

After graduation, Joyce Lin worked as a computer specialist at a commercial company for ten years until obtaining a position of the Director of Engineering, while growing her enthusiasm towards seminary at the same time. She then registered as a student at the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and graduated with a Master of Divinity. While studying theology there, she learned about the missionary flying service. It surprised her when knowing that there is a job that can combine her interest in computers, aviation and Christianity service at once. From there, she found a strong call to work as a missionary pilot. She had instrument certification and commercial flying certificate and experience working as a flight instructor to meet the requirement as a pilot for MAF. (*)

 

Reporter: Victor Mambor

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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The body of crashed MAF aircraft found 13 meters below water

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Lake Sentani. -Ist

Jayapura, Jubi – Roberth Tunyanan from KNKT (the National Transportation Safety Committee) Papua said the body of a pilot killed in the crashed aircraft was found in Lake Sentani on Tuesday morning.

“I received the report stating the Rescue Team had found the body of MAF pilot flying the aircraft PK-MEC in Lake Sentani,” Tunyanan as quoted by Antara News Agency on Tuesday morning (12/5/2020).

The report also revealed that her body found at a depth of 13 meters trapped in the cockpit.

The website maf.org acknowledges Joyce Lin as a pilot and IT specialist. As a pilot, she flew the aircraft to help people living in remote and isolated areas by providing medical evacuation service for saving a life. She also transported logistic supplies for community development, missionaries, teachers, and humanitarian workers to these remote locations. Meanwhile, as an IT specialist, Joyce work to set up and maintain the computer networks for missionaries and humanitarian workers to contact their communities and to access information on the Internet.

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The aircraft controlled by Joyce Lin reportedly crashed around Lake Sentani that located between Jayapura Municipality and Jayapura Regency in Papua Province. The aeroplane took off at 6.27 a.m. local time and lost contact two minutes after take-off. (*)

 

Reporter: Victor Mambor

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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