Church leaders ask for a halt in the MRP election process

Church leaders ask for a halt in the MRP election process
The Jakarta Post, 11 January 2011

By: Nethy Dharma Somba


Church leaders across Papua have asked the government to stop the election process of Papua People’s Council (MRP) members until a national dialog between Jakarta and Papua is held as demanded by Papuans during a rally in June last year.

The rally, held on June 18, 2010, demanded the region’s special autonomy be restored.

“We urge the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Papua and West Papua governors, speakers of Papua and West Papua legislative councils to stop the whole process of the MRP election,” said Jemima Krey, chairman of the Papuan Injili Christian Church’s (GKI) Synod in Jayapura, on Monday.

Jemima said the government had not yet provided a concrete answer regarding the demand but had moved forward with conducting the election process of MRP members. He expressed concern that this would render the result illegitimate by the Papuan indigenous people.

Jemima said through the national dialog Papuans wanted to discuss the dignity of indigenous Papuans that up to the present had not yet been accommodated to in the law on special autonomy.

As a result, the special autonomous status had failed to provide prosperity to indigenous Papuans as well as acknowledge and protect the rights of indigenous Papuans, he added.

“It would be much better if the election process was held after the national dialog,” said another priest, Benny Giay, who is also chairman of the Papua Kingmi Church Synod.

Benny expressed fear that if the election continued before dialog was conducted, church leaders would not be willing to recommend representatives to be elected as MRP members representing religious groups.

Jemima said there was no need to be afraid of the term “dialog”. “Never expect Papua to directly receive independence once the dialog is held. What we need is a dialog to discuss all things that have the potential to restore the special status,” he added.

Other participating church leaders include chairman of the Baptist Church Association Socrates Sofyan Yoman and chairman of Papua Pentecost Bethel Church Synod Tony Infandi.

According to the schedule prepared by the Papua provincial administration, dissemination of the MRP election is being conducted throughout the region. The 75-strong 2011-2016 MRP is scheduled to be sworn in by the Home Minister.