Bishops back democracy movement in West Papua

The Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea’s House of Bishops has lent its support to the pro-democracy movement in West Papua. The statement released on 4 July 2016 under the signature of the primate, the Most Rev. Clyde Igara, Archbishop of Papua New Guinea comes amidst rising tensions between the native Melanesian population and the settlers from Indonesia sponsored by the Jakarta government.  The bishops urged the PNG government to assist refugees streaming across the border and for the Indonesian government to respect the civil rights of the indigenous people. They called for the government to “make every effort to give freedom.to the many displaced people of West Papua to settle and re-establish their sense of livelihood; their homes and gardens.” On 14 July 2016 hundreds of Melanesians were arrested by police in West Papua following peaceful demonstrations protesting the occupation of West Papua — which was occupied by Indonesia in 1956. Roman Catholic Catholic Church Archbishop Nicholaus Adi Saputra of Merauke released a statement saying the demonstrations were the consequence of the stifling of dissent by the Indonesian government and urged the police not to treat peaceful protests as acts of sedition. Archbishop Igara thanked the PNG government for giving West Papuan refugees citizenship in PNG. “We are clear that it is a Gospel imperative that we must” love our neighbours as ourselves, he said. “Therefore we stand in solidarity with the people of West Papua.”

 
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