WASHINGTON (CNS): Indigenous residents of West Papua suffer a multitude of injustices, from rape and murder to the pilfering of riches extracted from their island, representatives of an Indonesian Catholic diocese said.
Unsettled disputes and violent conflicts between the Indonesian Government and the indigenous residents have resulted in the killing of at least 100,000 people by Indonesian security forces, superior of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in West Papua Fr Cayetanus Johanes Tarong said.
“There is murder, intimidation, terror and rapes,” Fr Tarong said.
“Welfare meant for the people mostly goes to build the infrastructure of the corrupt governmental bureaucracy.”
The Catholic delegation met with officials of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on May 19.
The delegation included members of the justice and peace office of the Diocese of Jayapura and Franciscans International, a Catholic international lobby group.
The delegation visited Washington to seek support from US Catholics and members of the US Congress to help ease what they call a humanitarian crisis in the region.
Once a colony of the Netherlands, West Papua was annexed by Indonesia in 1963, and delegation members said its indigenous population of about 1.5 million endures cultural suppression, acts of violence and extreme poverty in a land that is rich with oil and copper resources.
The increase in identified cases of HIV/AIDS is rampant among indigenous Papuans, because educational information about the virus and how it is spread is limited and the lack of educational facilities is tragic, a Franciscans International advocacy officer based in West Papua Chris Duckett said.
The delegation planned to spend several days meeting with members of Congress to educate them about the plight of West Papua’s indigenous people and to urge them to provide the region with financial aid and mediation between the Papuans and Indonesian Government.
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
The Catholic Leader acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of this country and especially acknowledge the traditional owners on whose lands we live and work throughout the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.