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Churches fight Indon abuses

A NEW-LOOK Papua New Guinea Council of Churches has vowed to step up the fight against human rights abuses by Indonesian security forces across the border. After more than a week of talks and years of negotiations, leaders of PNG’s mainstream churches gathered at Goroka to discuss the revival of this ecumenical movement which had been dormant for a decade.

Immediately after the gathering the leaders of the Anglican, Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran and United churches issued a joint statement calling for unity, cooperation and rethinking of ecumenical relations. In a powerful statement the leaders vowed to call on the PNG government – long an ally of Jakarta out of fear of the Indonesian military, a need for economic support or a combination of these factors – to consider supporting full membership of West Papua in the Melanesian Spearhead Group. Along with Fiji, PNG has for the last three years blocked attempts by Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands to allow Papuan dissident groups into the MSG.

Pacific Conference of Churches Programmes Officer, Sirino Rakabi, was a key figure in bringing the PNGCC back to life and was critical of the Fiji-PNG stand on MSG membership.

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