Church leaders protest Papua Assembly selection process

Church leaders protest Papua Assembly selection process
The Jakarta Post, 16 February 2011

By: Erwida Maulia


Leaders of three major churches in Papua object to the ongoing selection of new members of the Papuan People's Assembly (MRP), which they say fails to represent the interests of Papuans.

The church leaders are currently visiting Jakarta to meet legislators and members of the Regional Representatives Council, among other organizations, to voice the objection.

Benny Giay, the leader of Papua's KINGMI synod, said Wednesday, during a meeting with The Jakarta Post, that the Papua administration was not seriously selecting candidates who would properly represent the voice of Papuans for the 75 MRP seats, some of which are allocated to West Papua.

GKI synod deputy chairman Elly D. Doirebo, meanwhile, said the MRP was merely a tool of the central government, with the voice of its members barely heard. The MRP, he said, could only approve decisions that had already been made by the government.

“We have representatives at the MRP, but Jakarta never listens to them. So what is their presence there for then?” said Socratez Sofyan Yoman, the head of the service board of Papua's Baptis churches synod.

The three synods said they comprised a following of more than 1.3 million members combined, most of whom were native Papuans, and that they represented the voices of their members.

According to 2010 figures, Papua has a total population of around 2.85 million people.

The new MRP members must have been selected by Feb. 28, and will serve until 2016.