Indigenous priests from five Catholic Dioceses across the Papua regions in the press conference held at the Kondius Pastoral Residence, Abepura on Tuesday (21/7/2020). -Jubi/Hengky Yeimo

Indigenous priests call for a referendum for Papua


Indigenous priests from five Catholic Dioceses across the Papua regions in the press conference held at the Kondius Pastoral Residence, Abepura on Tuesday (21/7/2020). -Jubi/Hengky Yeimo

Jayapura, Jubi – Fifty-seven indigenous priests under the coordination of the Rev. Jhon Alberto Bunay asked the Government of Indonesia to conduct a referendum in West Papua. They said the government should not be afraid to do that because it would bring benefits to Indonesia.

“The Government of Indonesia can take a position and make the best decision to Papua, which their people are still Indonesian citizens and by law, the territory is under the Indonesian authorities,” said Bunay in reading their statement at the Kondius Pastoral Residence in Abepura on Tuesday (21/7/2020).

Furthermore, Bunay said the Government of Indonesia should make a spectacular and prestigious political decision to allow a referendum held in Papua and accept its outcome.

“We thought the referendum for West Papua would entirely help the arrangement of Papua after the great political decision,” he said.


Therefore, on behalf of the group members, Bunay asked the Government of Indonesia to not further take natural resources in Papua into account regarding the referendum.

“If the majority of Papuans choose for the independence of Papua, Indonesia should accept it. Nevertheless, Indonesia should stand with Papua to bring Papua as a leader of Melanesia to achieve the golden era of the Pacific. There would be no more tears and blood pouring on the land of Papua like it had when they were with Indonesia,” he said.

Moreover, Bunay said that after independence, Papua would maintain its friendship and partnership with Indonesia. Both nations will work together and turn to be a new power in the global community.

“Both Indonesia and Papua should have a mutual understanding and respect the humanitarian values on the land of Papua. Therefore, there would be no more oppression or massacre occurring in the future,” he said.

In this sense, Bunay said the Indonesian government and citizens must recognise and respect indigenous Papuans’ dignity as the landowners.

“Therefore, Papuans should lead their own land. Give a free choice on the hand of Papuans, and over their relationship with Indonesia,” he said.

Earlier, the founder and member of Papuan Church Council, the Rev Dr Socrates S Yoman stated his rejection of the Special Autonomy policy and asked for a referendum.

“As an indigenous, I thought the Special Autonomy Policy in Papua failed. As a church representative, I believe that people trusted me to declare that the Special Autonomy policy was a failure. As a member of the Papuan Church Council, I conclude that the Special Autonomy policy is dead. Please conduct a dialogue with the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP),” he said.

Yoman further said that Papuan people knew that the Government of Indonesia once negotiated with the leaders of the Freedom Aceh Movement (GAM). If the Indonesian Government does not discriminate against Papuans, they should also want to sit with the ULMWP as the representative of Papuans.

“If the negotiation has never been done, it means the Indonesian Government has been discriminative against Papuans. They could negotiate with GAM in Helsinki to solve the conflict with Aceh. It should be applied for Papua as well,” said Yoman.

Moreover, Yoman said the Papuan Church Council thought the Indonesian Government is worried to have a dialogue with the ULMWP. He said the Indonesian Government should be more open minded to meet the ULMWP. They should be open to asking the third party to mediate their negotiation.

“If Indonesia is a democratic state, they have to show their courage. They should treat Papua as equal as their treat to Aceh, which allows the GAM flag to raise, the establishment of the local party. Do not think that Papuans have a lower position, so they refuse to negotiate. We, the churches in Papua, suggest that negotiation with the ULMWP is a must” said Yoman. (*)


Reporter: Hengky Yeimo

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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