Monday, February 20, 2006

Papua churches, DPRD oppose Irian Jaya Barat

Influential Papuan church groups and community organizations are supporting the Papuan provincial Legislative Council's opposition to the creation of Irian Jaya Barat province. "I fully support the council's decision because it is considered the bestto avoid any possible conflicts that may arise in Papua over the establishment of West Irian Jaya province," Rev. Herman Saud, chairman of the Papuan Injili Christian Church Synod, told Nethy Dharma Somba of The Jakarta Post in Jayapura. Support against the partitioning of the province also came from local chapters of the Indonesian Christian Students Movement (GMKI), Association of Catholic Students (PMKRI), Indonesian Christian Women's Association (PWKI) and the Cooperation Forum of Non-governmental Organizations (Foker LSM). Representatives Jems Mayor (GMKI), Jens Cherry Meak (PMKRI), Rev. Wanaha (PWKI) and J. Septer Manufandu (Foker LSM) were signatories.

The statement said the public consultation conducted by the Papuan People's Assembly (MRP), which was used by the legislative council Friday to oppose the Papuan partition, was legitimate and must be presented to the central government for consideration. Rev. Herman Saud warned it would be a bad precedent if the central government did not heed Article 76 of the 2001 Papua Special Autonomy Law and went ahead with the partition of the province. The article states that any partition of the province must first be approved by the MRP.

During a plenary session Friday, the councillors concluded there was no need to divide Papua at present, and any future divisions would have to be done according to Article 76. West Irian Jaya is already operating as a de facto province. "There may emerge similar partitions in other regions throughout the province without necessarily having gone through the process of approval from the MRP. This will not be good for both the people and the law itself," Herman told The Jakarta Post. "The partitioning of Papua province outside the 2001 law is illegal because the province is regulated under the law. Therefore any decision should be taken in line with the law."

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