Papuan priest accuses Indonesian commandos

A West Papuan military commander has denied a parish priest's claim that elite soldiers are threatening and following him.

UCA News reports that Fr John Djonga says the elite commandos have been spying on him since late July, when he passed local people's safety concerns to the governor of Papua province.

In the latest incident last week, a man climbed down the backyard wall of a diocesan clergy guesthouse looking for the priest.

Fr Djonga said he told Governor Barnabas Suebu in July that local residents in the town of Keerom residents were constantly fearful.

Whenever they encounter elite Kopassus commandos, the priest reported, they are asked if they keep the separatist Bintang Kejora (morning star) flag or a gun, or have met Fr Djonga. Kopassus is a local abbreviation for Komando Pasukan Khusus (special commando force).

"I'm being chased, so I informed Papua Police Chief Max Donald Aer about the threats and asked for protection," the priest continued.

Fr Neles Tebay, vicar general of Jayapura diocese, accompanied Father Djonga to see Aer.

He told UCA News that the villagers feel voiceless, "so they entrust their voice to religious leaders" to urge leaders of TNI (Tentara Nasional Indonesia, Indonesian national military) to replace the current Kopassus border guards.

"All components of Papua society want Papua as a zone of peace," he insisted, urging the army not to intimidate villagers.

Jayapura city's military commander, Colonel Burhanuddin Siagian, acknowledged that local people want to live in peace without fear and promised action against soldiers who intimidate them. He encouraged residents to report soldiers who threaten them, because "we do not want them fleeing to another country due to intimidation."

Papuan Parish Priest Claims Elite Army Commandos Stalking Him (UCA News, 25/9/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Kopassus (Wikipedia)
Papua (Indonesian province)

Don't forget Papua: Melbourne bishop (CathNews, 6/8/07)

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