On 2 October, West Papua Network in Rome organized the seminar “West Papua, a Neglected Heaven – Justice and Human Rights based on the Gospel value” at Augustinianum in Rome to address the issue of human rights violation of indigenous West Papuan people.
The local Catholic church of the five dioceses in West Papua and some religious congregations working in West Papua recently published the three-year human rights report, and the English translation was launched during the seminar.Fr. Anthony Banks, OSA and Mr. Budi Tjahjono from Franciscans International introduced the context and the contents of the human rights report, and showed the interview video of Bp. Datus Hilarion Lega, the bishop of Manokwari-Sorong Diocese. Bp. Lega expressed the necessity of continuous effort to work for the promotion of human rights.
Fr. Jan Pieter Fatem, OSA, who is the indigenous Papuan himself working in West Papua, spoke about the concern about the human rights violation from the indigenous point of view and the environmental crisis due to the development projects, such as palm oil plantation and mining projects. The indigenous people do not benefit much from the economic gain, but they have to bear the environmental damage. In addition, he also mentioned about the humanitarian crisis, especially in the highland, as a result of on-going political tension in the region.
Mr. Peter Arndt, the Executive Officer of Justice & Peace Commission of Brisbane Diocese, spoke online. One of the key issues was the on-going human rights violation in Papua since the integration to Indonesia in 1969. There is a need to have a sustainable solution which should be acceptable for the indigenous Papuan.
He was followed by H.E. Mr. Antonius Agus Sriyono, the ambassador of Indonesia to the Holy See, who spoke about the policy of President Joko Widodo on the issue of human rights in Papua. He mentioned the commitment of the Indonesian government on development in West Papua and the challenges. Sr. Elly van Dijk, FDNSC presented the concerns and work of their sisters and brothers in West Papua. She expressed the importance of interculturality and the necessity of talking about the human rights violation issue in our own religious communities.
Fr. Budi Kleden, SVD sent a video message and shared his experience of his recent visit to West Papua when there was a huge protest. Mr. Tjahjono introduced the international advocacy effort especially through UN for the betterment of the human rights situation of the indigenous people in West Papua. He took up some pledges that the Indonesian government has to follow up.
There were around 35 participants with a good number of Indonesian religious. We hope this seminar is a good start to start talking about the issue and to collaborate in different places to promote human rights of indigenous people in West Papua. You can download the West Papua human rights report from here: