Seeds of Conflict in Papua

Jun 19th, 2008, in News, by

Immigration to West Papua is said to be creating the conditions for sectarian conflict.

A report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) of June 2008 says that tensions are rising between Muslims and Christians in West Papua as Christian Papuans feel threatened by the rise in numbers of Muslim migrants from other parts of Indonesia.

In recent times the city of Manokwari has the been the centre of problems. In 2005 Christians mobilised against efforts to build an Islamic centre and mosque on the site where German missionaries brought Christianity to Papua in the 19th century.

Things escalated in 2007 when Christian leaders drafted a bill for the local parliament, said to be based on biblical law, that would have given Christianity in the town a privileged status and placed special restrictions on Muslims. The bill was never enacted but generated bitterness among Muslims. A new draft of the bill is now being drawn up, of uncertain content.

In other parts of Papua it is said that many indigenous Christians feel they are being swamped by Muslim migrants at a time when the government in Jakarta is seen to be supportive of conservative Islamic orthodoxy.

In the Bird’s Head region of north western Papua, where there are many indigenous Papuan Muslims, it is also feared that as more Muslims leave Papua to study Islam, they then return with a less tolerant form of the faith, one that is more hostile to local culture and customs. icg

Thaha Mohammad Alhamid, leader of the Presidium Dewan Papua, admits there is a problem with some Muslim migrants bringing “hard” forms of the faith to Papua, and with the activities of groups such as Hizbut Tahrir and Salafist sects, and that some Papuans cannot understand when mosques and pesantrens are suddenly erected in mainly Christian areas.

However Christian migrants from other parts of Indonesia also sometimes bring an exclusivist and unfamiliar brand of Christianity to the province, and this creates its own problems, he said. ranesi

20 Comments on “Seeds of Conflict in Papua”

  1. M says:

    very nice Patung, well written and balanced information. thanks for putting this up. i am worried about Hizbut Tahrir preaching in the region too, but preaching is part of human right. The unfortunate thing is, preachers are often cultural insensitive kind of persons.


  2. sputjam says:

    The Papuans speak with a different tongue, have different culture, think differently from the rest of indonesians.

    Let them be free to manage their own affairs.

    Free Papua. Merdeka.

  3. Don’t forget the several thousand Laskar Jihad (hiding in plain sight there) as well. I have had several verbal run-ins with them in Sorong when helping during KKR there. Many pastors I’ve talked to there said that LJ, HT and other Islamists are used by TNI to do their dirty work and beat up or kill seperatists and Christians causing problems for Muslims.

  4. Abdul Khalid al Jumhuri says:

    Thanks Patung, for the article.

    I could understand the fear of the Papuans against Wahabbi teaching. It is bigoted racist, maliciously used all treachery and, abuses the kindness and the openness of any culture which host it, but in the end they ungratefully crap on any culture of the host.

    I experience it first hand in the US in late 80s as a student. Back then the world is still asleep, and I was a laughing stock when I said about the danger. Now the graduate of those cadres are the high official of PKS. I personally know some of them (Indonesians) as we were in the same cohort.

    This Wahabbi crap is the source of all evil using Islam as their cloak. It is real, and it is virulent. Yes, Sayyid Imam al Shariff may be jailed in Egypt, and yes Saudi may have fired 1000 of their Wahabbi hard core preachers. Yes, as Newsweek printed recently “In an open letter last year, a Saudi scholar bin Laden had long revered, Sheik Salman al-Oudah, demanded, “Brother Osama, how much blood has been spilt? How many innocents among children, elderly, the weak, and women have been killed and made homeless in the name of Al Qaeda?”

    But in the eyes of the Wahabbis the Papuan is just another “polytheist” dogs, lower than worm, and their blood is halal to be shed. Same thing apply to mine and others who do not buy their retarded teaching of Islam.

    As the first hand victim, I was worried then, in the 80s, and I am still worried now.

  5. Oigal says:

    It’s not just Papua..The regions are getting very ansty about no representation, no infrastructure..Its getting very dark out there.

  6. dewaratugedeanom says:

    It is worth noting the following quote from the conclusion of this particular ICG report:

    Papua’s Christians are only too well aware of attacks on churches elsewhere in Indonesia and see the country as a whole moving toward more support for Islamic orthodoxy. Muslims from outside Papua are easily mobilised to defend what they see as slights to a beleaguered community and to bolster the latter’s numbers through daawa and other forms of outreach.

    Hizb ut-Tahrir’s dream of a SE Asian (or world) Caliphate is now reaching the outskirts of Indonesia.

  7. Lairedion says:

    Sputjam is right in every sense. Let the Papuans run their own affairs.

    In fact, one could seriously question the whole concept of NKRI (which only exists based on the territories of the former colonizer) in its present form, it’s a dead-end street really. What’s the benefit for areas like Papua, Maluku, Sulawesi Utara, NTT, Bali to be part of a nation run by incompetent, corrupt crooks, who create fertile ground for groups like the FPI to roam freely?

  8. Abdul Khalid al Jumhuri says:

    @sputjam and lairedion,

    I disagree with both of you. Falkland is so far away and has no meaning to the British empire. Should it be freed and ceceded from it?

    The NKRI concept is so far final for Indonesia, which is in itself a sovereign country. Yes, it is run by “incompetent, corrupt crooks, who create a fertile ground for groups like the FPI”, but it does not render neither of you to dictate what is right for Indonesia.
    Young as it is, Indonesia is not the Balkans.

  9. Lairedion says:


    Firstly I’m not dictating anyone or anything so shouldn’t you. This is a forum where we can voice opinions freely.

    Secondly, if you read my comment well my critique is based on what benefit it has for Papua and other areas to stay in NKRI. I’m of Minahasan descent and I know many of the folks there have no feelings whatsoever with far away Jakarta and Java. All they see is their earned money flowing from Manado to Jakarta. In stead of throwing a RMS flag waver in jail for life, a mature government would listen better on what’s on people’s mind outside ivory towers Jakarta and Java in order to take their own concept of NKRI more seriously.

    About the Balkans remember what Tito always said: “A strong Yugoslavia can only continue to exist with a weak Serbia.”

    Falklanders would love to stay part of the UK. The British went out for war to keep those tiny little islands. Who would ditch such a friend?

  10. Neil of Newcastle says:

    Re Lairideon and Minahasa: many years ago (’94) I advised a group travelling around Indonesia to learn one song they could sing when called upon. Learn ‘Hullo, Hullo Bandung’ and your on, says I. In Manado and Jayapura at two restaurant/music bars, both bands and the singers refused to play and sing it – that’s a ‘Javanese’ song. Note the pre-Fall date.

  11. jaka says:

    I’m a javanese (NOT just “someone who lives in Java”) and I dont like Halo2 Bandung too. Never sing it anymore. Too “archaic”. “Lautan api” ? None of younger generations can imagine what “Bandung lautan api” is. It’s in heads of our “opa”s.

    Lair said:

    What’s the benefit for areas like Papua, Maluku, Sulawesi Utara, NTT, Bali to be part of a nation run by incompetent, corrupt crooks, who create fertile ground for groups like the FPI to roam freely?

    Is your argument based on last 10 years situation only? You can find lot of corrupt crooks also in the part you mentioned, too. And they are not imported. You just simply blinded by temporal political dynamics, but cannot see cultural interaction that is existing even before colonial era.

    People from the area you mentioned have proven themselves as good contributors to build Indonesia. In fact, Bali and the whole Nusa Tenggara benefited a lot from Java and the Buginese (well, if they in future prefer to deal more with Australia, that is another case). Of course such interaction is not without negative consequences, the same will happen whether they deal with other ethnics.

    Papuans are rather special to handle with since only recently they are involved in the same level of interaction. At least Papuans are not put in reservation camps, like the amerindians or aborigines. Or, if you dreaming of “Non-islamic Republic of East Indonesia”, do you think the Papuans have been given more alternative than Christianity as a symbol of modernism? They are softly forced, arent they?

  12. dewaratugedeanom says:

    The only interest Indonesia has in Papua is the tax money flowing from Freeport to Jakarta. Otherwise they wouldn’t give a sh*t about it. What else have Javanese Muslims in common with friendly koteka wearing natives?
    Islamization is just a way to secure the flow.

  13. Abdul Khalid al Jumhuri says:


    I still buy the concept of NKRI because only Papua and Minahasa could make sense to stand as a separate country. NTT, Ambon and others would be difficult. Their PAD is simply too small to be viable to stand as an independent country. In those regions most of the development fund come from Jakarta. I have been to places like Lomblen, Larantuha, Hadakewa, Lewoleba, Bajawa, Ruteng, up to Lauhan Bajo and also Ambon. I have heard nothing of any wish to cecede. Same thing happens with my Minahasan and Papuan friends whom I know. May be I am with wrong group of folks here. But they are from all spectrum of life: doctors, engineers, priest, pastor, business people, civil servants, and also one three-star general.

    I was cautious of the Balkanism as I loath Wahabism, and am very dismayed by what democracy could offer. Look at Timor Leste after the referendum and after all of what UN and Australia could muster: The country is still in a messy state. Even when it has proven oil reserves at the Timor Gap. I don’t know, I am just so skeptical with “democracy” in general. But, that is me; may be I am too old and to damn tired.

  14. Rob says:


    And the Freeport interest is a big one!

  15. Lairedion says:


    Timor Leste could have been something if they were left alone by Indonesia back in 1975. Unfortunately we will never know.

    Democracy as a base for an unitary state with such diversity is not gonna work. Only authoritarian rule like in Orba will keep this country relatively stable and safe, at the expense of freedom and liberties. Perhaps a secular, federate nation based on secularism like India (equally diverse with one dominant religion and substantial minorities) could provide fertile ground to develop some kind of stable democracy.

    I don’t want to see Indonesia fall apart but in its current “so-called democratic” form I believe it’s doomed to fail. But discussing NKRI and criticizing ‘islamisasi” and “jawanisasi” will immediately stir up nervous reactions like jaka. Apparently it’s still a taboo and smells like treason, according to nationalists. There’s an extreme sensitivity in Indonesia to separatism. No wonder RMS flag waver Johan Teterisa is doing life.

    Wonder where Purba Negoro is hangin’ around…

  16. Abdul Khalid al Jumhuri says:

    “Democracy as a base for an unitary state with such diversity is not gonna work.” Absolutely. I think it should be a benevolence dictatorship or a responsible totaliotarian will do. ORBA is a bad example, but could be usable. But ORBA, aside of being rotted out from the core, also missed the Wahabbi threat. BAKIN, BIA, KOPASSUS and the like were then busy jerking-off with “activists” and “extremists.” They paid dearly for not listening to LB Moedani.

    The sad fact is this. NKRI is owned by the Indonesian dreamers who themselves are not necessarily the greedy SOBs. Those dreamers are, IMHO, good people, with good intention and ideals, they were not corrupted folks. Those are the Sukarnos, the Maramises, and the Kawilarangs of Indonesia. Granted, the assumption is the assumption of the world before the Wahabbis entered into the equation.

    Now, I am sure that nobody, I mean NOBODY, cares if it were NTT who would cecede. But I bet you that countries like the US and Australia will cry bloody murder if one or two criminals were to be shot by a policeman in Papua. It is simply the gold-reserves that matter. When the gold is depleted, who cares? Indonesia will only be another Bangladesh, no body cares. Non me ne frega un cazzo – the Italians will say.

    Aceh could be the way it is, simply because Exxon-Mobil has drained up its reserves, and now it is puking sour LNG. Riau is kept stable because it is still pissing 500,000 BPD. If and when it is dried up, who cares?

    OK, NKRI sucks; do we have a better option, knowing that Federal Republic of Indonesia (FRI) will even be easier to be split and manipulated? I dunno my friend. I am very tempted with a responsible dictatorship as Singapore or even as China.

  17. dewaratugedeanom says:

    jaka said

    In fact, Bali and the whole Nusa Tenggara benefited a lot from Java

    Can you be more specific in what measure has Bali benefited from Java since independence? I’d rather believe it’s Java who benefited from tax revenues generated by Balinese tourism. And what does Bali get in return? When the Balinese tried to defend their case before the DPR in Jakarta during the UUD APP (anti-pornography law, read sharia inspired dresscode) controversy, which could have devastating results not only for tourism but especially for their own culture, they were treated like little children by the Javanese dominated commission.

  18. Purba Negoro says:

    just been hanging from the rafters and belfries until dusk, as usual, before I fly out hunting large animals to bite and lap their blood.
    So sweet you missed me.
    Perhaps my Javanese honesty is a rare insight into our often bewildering minds?

    If you want a comment on Irian Jaya- some people have forgotten Jaya Wijaya here and onanising themselves into a frenzy with their Western academico-policially fashionable nouveau terminology my sincere hope is the savages eat one another accusing each other of being witches (kua-kua) as soon as possible so we can tun it into triplex for our bule customers and Mainland Chinese chums.

    Enjoy your ‘babi panjang’ cannibal proto-humans of Irian along with your kuri-kuri (human spongiform encepholpathy) all served up with your cannibals; tomato. Not to mention their ridiculous penile gourds.

  19. Lairedion says:

    PN, you’re such a funny girl. Thanks for taking time to comment on me. You couldn’t resist, could you?

  20. kinch says:

    PN: You’re nasty, but I like it.

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