Interfaith efforts important to maintain peace in Papua

Peace
Focus group discussion "Challenges and the Role of Religions in the Struggle to Build Peace in Papua" organized by the Papuan Franciscan SKPKC in Jayapura City, Tuesday (5/7/2022). - Jubi/Theo Kelen

Jayapura, Jubi – Interfaith leaders in Papua gathered to discuss the “Challenges and the Role of Religions in the Struggle to Build Peace in Papua” in Jayapura City on Tuesday, July 5, 2022. The meeting was initiated by the Secretariat for Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation (SKPKC) Franciscan Papua.

Throughout the discussion, the participants gave critical notes about the peace struggle as well as religious-based peace work. The religious leaders also presented various proposals and follow-up actions to build and maintain peace in Papua.

Director of SKPKC Franciscan Papua Yuliana Langowuyo said ideas and efforts to build peace in Papua had been initiated 20 years ago but were yet to be realized to this day.

“Therefore, we gather interfaith leaders to share their thoughts, discuss, and find alternative solutions for the current Papua situation. We can still work in our respective roles and capacities to seek peace in Papua,” Langowuyo said.

The chairman of the Religious Harmony Forum (FKUB) of Keerom Regency, Nursalim Arrozy, said that peacebuilding in Papua required the cooperation of interfaith leaders to minimize the risk of conflict in Papua. “How do people want to build peace if life across races, ethnicities, and religions is not harmonious?” he said.

Meanwhile, Buddhist figure Aan Djamian said the government could start peacebuilding in Papua by increasing Papua’s human resources. Aan said human resource development in Papua was important so that indigenous Papuans can control the economy in Papua.

Aan said changes were also happening faster so everyone must adapt quickly. Efforts to build peace also require acceptance of the various changes that occur. “Even if we always demand peace, peace will not be realized as long as we don’t accept change,” said Aan.

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Echoing all the other participants, Pastor Avent OFM said that efforts to create peace in Papua must indeed be followed by increasing education, health, and the economy of the Papuan people, as well as efforts to build a balance by protecting the environment. “How do people talk about peace when they don’t have access to a good education? If one of these elements is not fulfilled, peace will hardly be achieved,” he said.

Avent said that it was the duty of religious leaders to continue to encourage the people to actively take roles in peacebuilding in Papua. “I think that throughout their lives, religious leaders have a duty to continue to promote the importance of maintaining peace in Papua,” he said. (*)

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