Pacific churches call for boycott of Indonesian products over Papua

Pacific Council of Churches general secretary Reverend James Bhagwan
Pacific Council of Churches general secretary Reverend James Bhagwan . . . the boycott call has come in response to the lack of political will by the Indonesian government over a pledged UN human rights visit. Image: Jona Konataci/Fiji Times File

By Shayal Devi in Suva

In solidarity with West Papua, the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) has called for a boycott of all Indonesian products and programmess by the Indonesian government.

The Fiji-based PCC said this should be done until Indonesia facilitated a visit by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate alleged human rights abuses in West Papua, which included torture, extrajudicial killings, and systemic police and military violence.

General secretary Reverend James Bhagwan said the call for a boycott came in response to the lack of political will by the Indonesian government to honour its commitment to the visit, which had been made four years ago.

“Our Pacific church leaders are deeply concerned that the urge by our Pacific Island states through the Pacific Islands Forum has been ignored,” he said.

“We are also concerned that Indonesia is using ‘cheque-book diplomacy’ to silence some Pacific states on this issue. Our only option in the face of this to apply our own financial pressure to this cause.

“We know that the Pacific is a market for Indonesian products and we hope that this mobilisation of consumers will show that Pacific people stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers of Tanah Papua.”

On Thursday, the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC) held a flag-raising ceremony to mark 61 years since the Morning Star, the West Papuan national flag, was first raised.

Women, girls suffered
FWCC coordinator Shamima Ali said as part of the 16 Days of Activism campaign, FWCC remembered the people of West Papua, particularly women and girls, who suffered due to the increased militarisation of the province by the Indonesian government.

“We also remember those women, girls, men and children who have died and those who are still suffering from state violence perpetrated on them and the violence and struggle within their own religious, cultural and societal settings,” she said.

Ali said Pacific islanders should not be quiet about the issue.

“Fiji has been too silent on the issue of West Papua and the ignorance needs to stop,” she said.

“Keeping quiet is not the answer when our own people are suffering.”

Shayal Devi is a Fiji Times reporter. Republished with permission.

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