JUBI, 29 August 2011—The churches in Paniai are very concerned about the unsatisfactory situation that has continued in Paniai following an armed skirmish that took place on 17 August, and also about reports that additional troops have been sent to Paniai to search for two firearms that were reportedly seized from police headquarters in Komopa on 15 August. In view of this situation, the churches are trying to mediate between the TPN/OPM and the Indonesian army and police to reach a dignified agreement to solve these problems.
The Rev. Hana Tebay, S. Th.said in a meeting on Sunday, 28 August that they had made approaches to the TPN/OPM and the Eduda headquarters (?) two days previously and she also said that in the near future, church leaders would be meeting the chief of police in Paniai.
‘The church is neutral. In our view we are all children of God which is why we speak from the heart with both the TPN/OPM and the security forces, the army and the police, she said.
‘We hope and pray that our efforts will bear fruit because we very much regret the continuation of these unsatisfactory conditions. A solution can be found and we will do everything in our power to mediate between the two sides so as to safeguard security in Paniai,’ she said.
The co-ordinator of the KINGMI Church in Paniai, Rev. Gerard Gobai, S.Th. said that the churches will use their prophetic mission to put an end to the situation that has emerged among the people. This situation has led to the people abandoning their homes, their work, their animals and fleeing from their homes. As a result, Sunday worship meetings were attended by far fewer people than usual.
‘We are hoping for a solution. The two sides must agree to engage in peaceful efforts. ‘
He also expressed the hope that the local government would not allow this situation to continue for this would mean the continuation of a state of uncertainty for the people who are now living in fear.According to the mass media, the situation in Paniai is safe, but the fact is that the people feel very afraid. The place for the people is there, and they should not be wanting to flee from Paniai.
‘How can the people feel calm if even the bupati (sub-district chief) has vanished from Paniai?’
He went on to say that as far as the church is concerned, everyone must strive to make Papua a Land of Peace.
‘There must be an end to disorder, to conflict, an end to the loss of life..The church therefore expects the government to make serious efforts together with the TNI/Polri and the TPN/OPM to think about joint efforts to end this situation, and in particular to secure the return of the two firearms.’*