Minggu, 30 September 2012

Breaking the Silence on West Papua

Breaking the silence on West Papua

September 28th, 2012

“Silence is golden” they say. But in some parts of the world the “silence” can be deafening.
Take West Papua for example. The region is becoming even more isolated as violence is perpetrated against local people. Papuans are pleading for peace. They are seeking opportunities to talk about their concerns and to negotiate a future.
But Papuans have no voice. They are a forgotten people. Few people around the world seem able to hear their cries.
My concern was roused this week as I met with a man from West Papua.  Sitting in the spring sunshine and with a skimmed latte in hand we talked about his homeland.
“The missionaries came and preached salvation to us” he said. “We were taught about right and wrong…..we were urged to live in peace and we were encouraged to be a righteous and just people”.
 “But the reality for us is now different” he went on. “In my highland village there is no peace….there is no justice!  My people are treated like animals.”
And then he asked. “Where are the missionaries now?”
Our conversation stumbled. It was interrupted by a long and difficult pause.
Martin Luther King Jnr, the great American Civil Rights leader once said: “We shall have to repent, not so much for the evil deeds of wicked people, but for the appalling silence of good people”
These words make an impact.
Where are the missionaries now?….where are the voices that once demonstrated a passion for West Papua’s salvation? Where are the commitments that once brought peace to West Papua’s highlands?
The Papua Peace Network, together with organisations including our partner church, the Evangelical Christian Church in the Land of Papua, are working hard to voice Papuan concerns. Today these organisations are striving to break the silence and to provoke good people around the world into doing something.
In Canberra a few weeks ago, the Canberra City Uniting Church hosted an evening on West Papua. It was an opportunity for me, together with others, to share the story and to inform people.
Our plan is to stage more such gatherings. West Papuans living Australia are a crucial part of this initiative. Meanwhile our brothers and sisters in West Papua are eagerly looking on.
West Papua continues to suffer while the world just moves on.
The appalling silence must be broken now!