Friday, March 09, 2007

Papuan Christians say Muslims a 'genocidal' threat

A separatist leader claims the Papuan people are in danger of being wiped out because of Indonesian rule. "We are at risk of genocide," Benny Wenda, a British resident, told Adnkronos International. "I fear that in 30 years the Melanesian race will be wiped off Papua. The international community must force Indonesia to stop its military operation and leave Papua," he said.

According to the AKI report, the Reverand Socrates Sofyan Yoman, leader of the Baptist church of Papua, said that the risk of genocide also comes with the flow of immigrants that continue to arrive from other parts of Indonesia. "Genocide is also seeing our culture and religion disappearing with the arrival of migrants," the religious leader told AKI.

Neles Tebay, a Catholic priest and local accademic said that the presence of immigrants is evident everywhere. "There are mosques at every corner. Migrants are by far the majority in the main cities of the region," Tebay told AKI.

The article also quoted a 2003 study conducted by Yale University, that reportedly said that the migratory flow of people towards Papua could be considered "an act of genocide".

"The Indonesian government has denied these accusations. Jakarta has said that with respect to human rights, the situation in Papua has significantly improved in the last few years and that the desire for independence is not shared by most in the population. The government also said that the provinces in the Papua region - Papua and [Papua Barat] - are ruled by Papuans, as stipulated by a special statute giving these area provincial autonomy in 2001. The government also said that in Indonesia, citizens can move freely from one island to another," AKI commented.

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