2 Aug 2007

Papuan churches targetted by Indonesian security forces

10:55 am on 2 August 2007

A leading academic on Papua says churches in the province which break away from Jakarta-based leadership are targets for Indonesian security forces.

The comments from Sydney University's Professor Peter King follow two cases of serious intimidation directed at Papuan Church leaders in the past few days.

The West Papua baptist leader, Reverend Socratez Sofyan Yoman was threatened with a gun by a police officer on Sunday outside his Jayapura church.

Two days later paramilitary police conducted a violent raid on the Kingmi Church Synod office and attacked the staff - 3 of whom had to be hospitalised with injury.

Professor King says because they tend to be the most-resourced and outspoken human rights movements in Papua, churches are targetted by the security forces.

"And they've particularly targetted the churches which are now breaking away from leadership in Jakarta because there are old connections dating back 40 or 50 years to the national churches in Indonesia. But that's always been a bit unsatisfactory to the Papuans and they find their own churches... well, they say they're being infiltrated by intelligence operatives. Certainly all those churches have to face some sort of settler influx which dilutes the Papuan leadership of them."