Uniting church minister speaks out on West Papua


A report due out shortly by a coalition of church groups and NGOs from within Indonesia is expected to raise serious concerns about the handling of demonstrations that took place at the Freeport mine in West Papua in May this year. According to The Australian newspaper, the report, yet to be released, alleges that none of the 23 people charged after the riots had anything to do with the deaths of four police men, who were killed by demonstrators. The report claims that instead the Indonesian police involved in the prosecutions were motivated by personal interest and revenge. Some of those charged and found guilty of involvement in the riots now face prison sentences of up to 15 years. Well, getting an on the ground account of life in West Papua can be difficult, with a virtual ban on foreign media being in place in the province, but one Australian who has been to West Papua several times is Reverend John Barr, is the head of the Asia division of the Uniting Church’s International Mission. He was in West Papua just before the demonstrations and spoke to the Wire, about the situation there.

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