A Church History of West Papua

0. A Church History of West Papua [NOT FOR CITATION]
[© 2004, A. N. Ipenburg]

1. Introduction

The history of the Church in West Papua is a history of the response of the Papuans to the introduction of the Christian faith by missionaries mainly from the Netherlands, Germany and the United States. To understand this response there is need to provide some introduction into the characteristics of Melanesian and Papuan culture and religion. The history of the church in West Papua is different from that of the church in most other parts of Indonesia. Until the last decades of the twentieth century for instance there was hardly any active role by Moslems. Till the 1960s Christianity was the established religion of the people and of the government. West Papua is still the region with the highest percentage of Christians in the population. Christianity has been an important factor in the strengthening of a Papuan identity, separate from a tribal identity.  Papuans developed a grassroots theology, which helped them to cope with the challenge of modernisation and to maintain and develop their identity, threatened in the New Order state of Suharto.

Christian mission began work in West Papua in 1855, almost half a century before the Dutch colonial government entered the territory to establish its first permanent government posts there. Systematic external interference in Papuan indigenous political and social institutions came late and has been, until recently, quite limited. Traditional ways of life could be preserved, especially in the Highlands, where 40 % of the Papuans live. The Indonesian Government and army only began to intervene intensively in the early 1960s in the culture, religion and economy of the Papuans, often using considerable violence. This was strongly resisted by the Papuans. They used Christian values and concepts in their struggle for freedom. Since the 1990s Papuans use mainly non-violent methods, aiming at reconciliation and dialogue as means to solve their conflict with the Indonesians. The movement is nevertheless harshly suppressed by the Indonesian army and police. From 1970 till 1998 West Papua was designated as a Military Operational Territory (Daerah Operasi Militer, DOM). This means the supremacy of the security forces in society, in politics and in the economy.

   2. Background

West Papua (successively called Papua land or Tanah Papua, Nieuw Guinee, Nederlands Nieuw Guinea, Irian Barat, Irian Jaya, Papua, West Irian Jaya/Papua and West Papua) is the western part of the island of New Guinea. Its size is 420,000 sq. km, the size of California or one quarter the size of Indonesia without New Guinea. It has at present (2004) about 2.5 million inhabitants of which an estimated 1.6 million (about 65 %) Papuans. The remainder are “newcomers” (pendatang), who came after the incorporation of West Papua in Indonesia. There are three categories of these: (a) the transmigrants, who have been settled in West Papua by the government as peasant farmers, (b) the “free” migrants, who came as traders, taxi drivers, craftsmen, shopkeepers, salesmen and women at the market, miners and so on, and (3) government officials and army and police personnel, who were sent here on a tour of duty. Some of them bought a property and stayed after their retirement. Most of the migrants are from Java and by religion Muslim.

The Papuans are Melanesians. They have been there probably been there for 30,000 to 40,000 years. The origin of the Melanesians is uncertain. They may once have occupied the whole of Indonesia. In Indonesia there are still a few pockets of people who are ethnically and linguistically similar to the Papuans, e.g. in Timor, the interior of Seram, Tanimbar and other islands in East Indonesia. The enormous linguistic diversity of West Papua is evidence of a long stay. More than 250 languages are spoken. Some people on the North coast like the Biak and Numfor people speak Austronesian languages, which are members of the large language family to which also Malay, Malagasy and the Polynesian languages belong. Most Papuan languages are grouped together as “Trans-New Guinea languages”, with other languages classified as West Papuan, East Bird’s Head and Gelvink Bay languages. Many languages have less than 100 speakers. The largest language groups are: the Dani (270,000), the Mee, also known as Kapauke or Ekari, (100,000), the Biak-Numfor (40,000), the Yali (33,000), the Sentani (30,000 speakers), Moni (Paniai) (20,000) and the Asmat (19,000). Smaller groups are: the Hatam (Moi) 16,000, the Meyah 15-20,000, the Damal 14,000, the Ketengban, the Manikion, the Yaqai, the Mandobo, the Marind-anim, the Amungme and the Ayfat[1]

The peoples at the North Coast and on Biak, the people from Numfor and Yapen, islands in the Cenderawasih Bay, as well those of the South coast of the Bird’s Head, live from cassava, fishing and hunting. The Highlands, unexplored until the 1940s and 1950s, is twice the size of Switzerland. The people of the Highlands practice a fairly sophisticated form of agriculture, with terracing and the making of stone fences. The Papuans are among the first cultivators in the world. The main crop is the sweet potato (“batatas” ), a crop originating from Middle America and brought to East Indonesia by the Portuguese in the early 16th century. The introduction of the sweet potato, which replaced the yam (keladi), enabled the Papuans to settle in the Highlands, which are too cold for other crops. The sweet potato is the main staple food for humans and for the pigs. The pig has a very important role in society. It is used to pay a bride price, to compensate for damages and to establish peace between rival groups and villages. One who is able to organize a pig feast enhances his status. In regular pig festivals a large number of pigs are slaughtered and eaten. Here, traditionally, the archetypal pig is honoured, which is a saviour hero who sacrificed himself in order to provide the food crops humankind needed for survival. The ethnic groups in the South, in the Merauke and in the Mimika regencies, were traditionally hunters and food gatherers, though cassava is also cultivated. Among these, the Asmat and Marind-anim are world famous for their wood carvings. The art is of a religious nature and closely connected with their headhunting raids. Headhunting was an integral part of their complex culture. Heads were needed for young men in order to get married. Heads gained in these raids were in their world view connected with the fertility of the land and the well-being of the tribe.[2]

West Papua is rich in minerals like copper, gold, oil and nickel. The exploration of fragrant wood (“kayu geharu”) and logging in the vast forests also brings in considerable wealth to some individuals. In 1967 an American company, Freeport McRohan, built the world’s largest copper and gold mine in the Amungme area, near Timika, on the South coast. In the 1990s huge deposits of LNG were found near Bintuni, in the Bird’s Head, which is exploited by BP. From the early 1970s onwards the Indonesian government introduced the policy of transmigration, in part financed by the World Bank, which brought poor and landless, mainly Javanese families to West Papua. They are given five acres of land (20,000 sq. m), a two bedroom wooden house, with a well and a pit latrine and just enough rice to make it until the next harvest. After five years the land becomes their property. The vast majority of these transmigrants are Moslems. Only very few of the plots are made available for Papuans on the same conditions as the outsiders. Of the other migrants, those who come on their own, an estimated one third comes from Java, one quarter from the Moluccas, while others come from North and Middle Sulawesi (Manadonese, Sangirese and Toraja), South Sulawesi (Buginese, Butonese, Makassarese), Sumatra (Batak and Minangkabau) or Flores and Timor. There are also a small number of Hindu Balinese and Buddhist Chinese.

Generally speaking Papuans have been left out of the type of development (“pembangunan”) of the New Order government of Soeharto. The land given to the transmigrants for free was taken away from the Papuans, often without proper compensation. In the modern sector of the economy private companies give preference to migrants with regard to employment. Migrants from South Sulawesi (Buginese, Butonese and Makassarese) have virtually monopolized the local open air markets (pasar). Papuans are heavily underrepresented in government service, in the police and in the army. Only since 1998, the provincial government has an affirmative employment policy for Papuans (“putra” and “putri daerah”). This Papuanisation is a slow process. From all modern institutions it is only the church and church-related institutions like schools that are controlled and dominated by Papuans.

3. Before 1855: Early encounters?

There is no concrete evidence of Christian mission to West-Papua before the 19th century. However, Christianity in East Indonesia may still indirectly have influenced religion in West Papua. Portuguese and Spanish missionaries, Franciscans and others, were, from 1520 onwards, active in the Moluccas and established mission posts in Tidore, Ternate, Seram, Ambon and Banda. All these places had already trading relations with the Raja Ampat islands and the Bird’s Head of West Papua.  Spanish Jesuits were, in the same period, active in the Philippines and tried, from there, to get a foothold in the Moluccas and West New Guinea. Augustinians were also involved in mission work in the area. In 1538 Antonio Galvano ordered a journey of exploration to the Papuan Islands (Raja Ampat), to visit the rajas (rulers) of  Viaigue (Waigeo), Quibibi (Gebee?) and Mincimbo (Mansimbau?, Mansinam?). Nothing is known of the result of this enterprise. A later Jesuit report mentions that a delegation from the Papuan Islands asked for priests. There is a report from 1550 stating that there are Christians on the Papuan Islands. Freerk Kamma, a Dutch Reformed missionary, who worked in the Raja Ampat and the Bird’s Head from 1931 until 1962, found a Summa Theologia of Thomas Aquinas, used by a Papuan shaman as a tool for divination. This find could be seen as an indication of some form of early culture contacts between Papuans and Portuguese and/or Spanish missionaries.

At the beginning of the 17th century Portuguese and Spanish influence was replaced by that of the Dutch with the entry of the Dutch East India Company (VOC or “kompeni”) in East Indonesia. The Dutch did not give Christian mission as much priority as the Spanish and the Portuguese had been doing. However, it is possible that casual visits and information about Christianity since the early 16th century through trading contacts led to the emergence of new myths or to the transformation of local myths. Biak, Raja Ampat and large areas of the Cendrawasih Bay have myths about a self sacrificing Saviour, who left or died, but promised to return, when he would establish a kind of a millennium. The Biak people call this millennium “koreri”. This is announced by a forerunner of the messiah, a prophet, the “konor”. The messiah figure itself is called in Biak and Numfor the Manseren Mangundi. The Mee of Paniai, South-East of Nabire, have a similar myth of the return of  Koyeidaba. He gave his life to create new life to help humankind in a concrete way, with new food crops. According to the Mee anthropologist and church leader Dr Benny Giay, the Mee of Paniai saw themselves the close similarities of their religious myths with the Gospel. They even thought that the missionaries had come from America not to bring the Gospel, but “to steal” the Mee myths by giving cues about traditional Mee religion. Several tribes have similar stories about a millennium, which will be brought about by the advent of a messiah figure. The existence of this type of myths may have helped the Papuans to accept the Gospel. There is for them a continuity when converting to Christianity.

From 1828 till 1836 there was an effort to establish a Dutch settlement, Merkusoord, with Fort du Bus, on the Triton bay on the South Coast of New Guinea, east of Kaimana. This failed, as many settlers died of diseases. The local population continued to attack the settlers, encouraged by Muslim traders from Ternate, who feared the loss of their trading monopoly. This was a Christian presence, though there is no evidence of any influence on the conversion of the Papuans of the area. There was an expansion of Catholic Mission work in the Pacific toward New Guinea coming from the East (Hawaii, 1825). Early Catholic jurisdiction over the whole of the island of New Guinea, including West Papua, was from the Prefecture of the Sandwich Islands. The Marists entered the eastern half of the island in 1848. The Jesuits opened a station in Tual, Kei Islands in 1888, and in 1889 founded a station at Langgur, which became the main staging post for Catholic missions in the Moluccas and the south coast of West Papua. The Catholics only began their first mission reconnaissance tours in West Papua in the 1890s.

    4. “Injil Masuk (The Gospel Enters): 1855-1898

The first systematic mission effort in West Papua was an initiative of the German minister Johannes Evangelist Gossner (1773-1858). He was supported by the Dutch minister, Otto G. Heldring. Heldring was the founder of institutes for destitute women and girls (the Heldringgestichten in Zetten and in 1848 of the Christian Worker Association (“Vereeniging  Christen-Werkman”). He was involved in the revival movement in the Dutch churches, called the Réveil, the “Awakening”. Spokesmen for the Réveil , like Da Costa, Bilderdijk, De Clerq and Groen van Prinsterer, linked a messianism with the idea that Holland was a nation chosen by the Lord, the nation “on which Christ had laid His hand”. The Réveil saw a link between the loss of faith and the decline of the nation. These ideas have a close similarity with Christian beliefs now common with Papuans.

Gossner and Heldring shared ideas about mission. For an effective Christian mission one needs no more than a great faith, showing itself in action. A missionary only needs a Bible, a hymn book and “a heart filled with a living faith”. Simple craftsmen were the right missionaries as they would be able to make a living at their mission post by working. In their free time they could go out and preach the Gospel. This concept of mission is not unlike that of David Livingstone for Central Africa in the same period. Livingstone advocated mission work by Christian settlers, to combine Christianity with “commerce.” Evangelization had to be combined with economic development, with the introduction of new crops and modern technology. There was, possibly, a chiliastic aspect in the choice of West Papua for Christian mission, although the area was not even brought under colonial rule. Jesus had promised after his Resurrection that He would return as soon as the Gospel had reached “the ends of the earth.” There were not many areas in the world as remote as West Papua. So the area was selected, jumping over other areas, which were not yet evangelized.

It was Protestant missionaries who were the first to establish permanent mission posts in West New Guinea. This was quite decisive in the view of present day Papuans. According to them, the Gospel entered Papua land on Sunday 5 February 1855, when Carl Ottow and Johann Geissler set foot ashore at Mansinam, a small island near Manokwari. They knelt on the beach and prayed, claiming the whole island for Christ. The whole of West Papua was, as it were, baptized. This story is now used to claim West Papua for (Christian) Papuans against (Moslem) Indonesians of other islands. In 2001 5 February became a public holiday in the province.

The Papuans in the area where Carl Ottow and Johann Geissler worked were not easily converted. They were not prepared to change their customs, a precondition of conversion. Ottow and Geissler started with language study and soon produced a word list and a grammar of the Numfor language. In recognition for this work the Government supplied the missionaries each with a monthly grant of 50 Dutch Guilders[3]. They proposed a grand scheme to the Government to involve the Papuans in a tobacco plantation on the Kebar plateau, with the help of Christian farmers from Java. The scheme included the supply of 20 guns with ammunition “to strike awe into robbers” and the presence of some retired European or Ambonese soldiers. The Government rejected the plan, but still gave the missionaries half the 10,000 Guilders the scheme was budgeted for and two Javanese farmers with an expertise in tobacco cultivation. With these grants the government recognized the pioneering effort of the missionaries in opening up a new and unknown territory, only nominally part of the Dutch East Indies. The Government expected pacification “on the cheap”. This is evidenced by a remark by a government official, a former Resident of Ternate, who said that the Mission had to be considered as failed, as the Papuans did not show much enthusiasm about his arrival in Doreh! The financial support of the government enabled the missionaries to devote most of their time to mission work. However, they remained involved in trading. They bought food cheaply when it was in abundance and sold it at a profit when it was scarce. Papuans considered this unfair. Geissler also bought tortoise shells, trepang or sea cucumber, birds of paradise, copra and mother of pearl shells and exchanged these for cotton, iron, knives, beads, sarongs, mugs, plates and so on. The famous British naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace, who visited the Ottows in 1858, mentioned the difficulties arising when the missionary is a pastor and at the same time a trader who is after a profit from his flock. This was, in his opinion, in contradiction with the Christian message.[4]

In 1863 the Utrecht Mission Society (Utrechtse Zendings Vereniging, hence UZV)  began work in New Guinea with the sending of six full time and well trained theologians and artisans as missionaries. J. L. Van Hasselt, his wife S. Hulstaert, Th. F. Klaassen, his wife C. Aarsen and W. Otterspoor were the first of the new type of missionary.[5] The UZV forbade their missionaries to participate in trading. To prevent Moslem traders to fill the gap, and to help the Papuans to get inexpensive and useful commodities the UZV established a special trading committee. This functioned untill 1900 when it was made independent of the mission. There was no trading done on the first day of the week. This was to help Papuans to respect the Day of the Lord. From the beginning the mission did not sell alcoholic drinks or guns to the Papuans. To bring Papuans into their fold, missionaries started to entice young children to go to school. Only by giving presents to the parents children could be kept at the mission school. The curriculum stressed instruction in the Christian religion, apart from reading and writing. To secure attendance at church services the missionaries, initially, had to supply the congregation with tobacco, gambir (ingredient of the betel drug) and sirih (betel). This was stopped by Van Hasselt. There were two services on Sundays, a one hour service at 8 o’clock in the morning and another one at 5 o’clock in the afternoon. There were also daily services at 6 o’clock in the morning. A common method to get converts, though this was not uncontroversial, was to buy slave children to be raised in the household of the missionaries as their step children (“anak piara”). The wisdom of the method was debated, as the buying of slaves could create a new market. In 1880 Mrs Van Hasselt bought a girl for Dfl 60. On the other hand, the freed slave often saved his or her life by getting incorporated in the household of the missionary. Here they did household chores, participated in the house services of the missionaries and were given the opportunity to go to school. Even as late as 1900 Jens defended the method as the only one possible. Another problem of former slaves becoming early converts and then church leaders was that the fact that they had been sold put them in a class of their own, even if they returned to their home village. The church could not grow until it had non-slaves leading it. The first non-slave to be baptized was Timoteus Wirie in 1874.

The message of the missionaries in this period was that the life of the Papuans was dominated by fear for the spirits of the deceased and all kinds of secret powers. The Gospel of Jesus Christ liberates us of all these powers and fears, “because He is more powerful and can protect those who belong to Him”. The missionaries, generally speaking, had a low view of the Papuans and their traditional religion. The Papuans were considered degenerated (“ontaard”). They were seen as having only nebulous ideas, while their energy was seen as limited. They were not aware of  the existence of a class of priests, which would keep the old traditions. Intellectually they saw the Papuans as being at a low level. Their main occupation was “feasting and once more feasting.” By 1880, 25 years after the arrival of the pioneers, only 20 people had been baptized, including those Papuan children adopted by the missionaries. Ten years later, in 1890 Mansinam had 42 full members, 44 baptized children, an average church attendance of 175, school attendance was at 60 and there were 32 catechesis students. In 1892 the mission sent two Papuan students, Petrus Kafiar and Timotheus Awendu, to the Depok Seminary for native missionaries, near Jakarta. They later became teacher-evangelists (guru).

    5. Mass conversions and education: 1898-1940

a. Introduction

In 1898 the Dutch colonial government established its first two permanent posts in New Guinea in Manokwari and Fak-Fak, and in 1902 a third one in Merauke. The mission welcomed the establishment of government control. In the words of one of them: “The cruel game is over. Dutch government authority now determines what is lawful. And with it one of the major pillars of paganism has been destroyed.” The Dutch initiative was forced by the threat that Britain, Germany, the United States and even Spain claimed West New Guinea. Spain claimed the Mapia Islands, North of Biak, as part of the Caroline Islands. On Mapia an American copra company had established itself and it had raised the Stars and Stripes. The Dutch intervened by sending a ship to haul the flag down. Government posts served mainly ‘to show the flag’. The establishment of these posts, in an area slightly smaller than France  could not hide the fact that New Guinea remained largely neglected. There was only slight interference with local customs and traditions which the government wanted to replace, like tribal and clan wars, headhunting, witch hunting and capital punishment. It was only the Christian missions that provided rudimentary services in health care and education.

b. The UZV and the “Indische Kerk”, 1898-1942

After almost half a century working almost without result the UZV at the North Coast, finally, began to see results. Many Papuans at the beginning of this period began to ask the missionaries for resident teachers and missionaries. Often people converted by way of group conversions, especially around the Cenderawasih Bay (Geelvink Baai). The first wave of conversions started on 1 January 1907 at Roon. Here Yan Ayamiseba, a former slave, died after an accident when cutting a tree. A few days before his death he told that he had a dream where he was allowed entry into heaven, where people with long hair, dressed in white, were seen when passing a door of gold. A dream is an acceptable and authoritative means of communication between the spirit world and the concrete world we live in. Gold replaces iron, which is associated with slavery. Long hair is a symbol of the free Papuans. The abode of the dead, according to the dream is not, as in traditional cosmology under the ground, but high up. This dream proved to be an effective form of contextualisation of the Christian message as brought by the Dutch and German missionaries.

Pamai, a Papuan from Ormu, west of Jayapura, brought the Gospel to the people in the Sentani area at the end of the 1920s. He was himself illiterate, but taught the people to destroy their Kariwari-masks, after these had been shown to women, which was a taboo. He then taught the people the Lord’s Prayer and the 12 Articles of Faith. Pamai had been sick, he had died and then had appeared for the Lord, who told him that he could not yet enter Heaven before he had brought the Gospel to other people. The 1920s had seen the opening up of Papua economically. Copra, the dried meat of the coconut, fetched then very high prices of up to twelve Guilders a picol (62 kilograms). Moreover the demand for  birds of paradise was so high that many young Papuans left their villages to hunt for them. In the 1930s the world economic crisis led to a decline in demand. The price of copra fell down to only two Guilders a picol. The crisis led to financial difficulties for the mission. The mission then changed its policy of working with salaried local staff. It  decided to work with local Papuans, working as evangelists (“penginjil”), who were given only a minimum of training. They were given extensive responsibilities for the evangelisation work. They received a small allowance, but not a regular salary. The village where they settled had to provide for their livelihood. The evangelists would have their own gardens and take part in hunting. The advantage was that the Gospel was preached in the local Papuan language instead of Malay. The evangelists were taken up in the tribe and lived among the people. By the early 1930s the UZV had extended the area where it worked till the Humboldt Bay. By 1934 the mission counted more than 50,000 Christians, most of them in North New Guinea.

 

    

Mission

Missionaries

Wives

Pastors[6]

Teachers

Christians

Schools

Pupils

Hospitals – Beds

New Guinea Indische Kerk   1   1
North NG UZV 12 12 42 153 45,384 131 7,397 1- 30
West NG UZV   3   2 16   16   5,869   26 1,253
Total  for 1934 16 15 58 169 51,253 157 8,640 1- 30

 

Table I: The UZV and the “Indische Kerk” in 1934

When J. van Hasselt retired in 1932, after serving 38 years in New Guinea he complained that, increasingly, he had to fight on a front, that he did not like, “I mean the Roman infiltration and penetration.”  Rivalry and conflicts between the Protestant mission and the Roman Catholic mission that did not recognize a separation of mission areas was till the 1950s a common pattern in West Papua. The UZV expanded in this period its educational system. The gurus often had the dual role of teaching during weekdays the school children and leading the church service on Sundays. There were from the 1930s about 30 “classes” (presbyteries) and twelve “resorts”. Between 1924 and 1942 the number of village schools with a three years’ program increased from 71 to 300. The number of congregations was the same. Areas were opened by sending an evangelist or guru, who opened a village school and at the same time a candidate congregation or a congregation. In 1937 the schools had about 10,000 pupils.  There was one upper primary school (grades 4 and 5) with 50 pupils and one vocational school with nine students. For more advanced education the most promising pupils were sent to Java. The GPM created two presbyteries in the South, the South Papua presbytery covering the Merauke area and the West Papua presbytery covering the areas of Mimika and Merauke. By 1937 there were 76 congregations in North and West New Guinea, but only three in South New Guinea where the Catholics dominated.

Medical work was limited. The missionaries provided elementary medical care from their mission posts. Serui had a mission hospital with a trained nurse in 1910, but closed in 1914. Only in 1932 a doctor was sent to the hospital in Serui on Yapen Island in the Cenderawasih Bay. Korido in Western Biak had a smaller hospital. Since 1936 there was also a hospital looking after leprosy patients.

c. The Roman Catholic Mission, 1902-1942

Roman Catholics had been discriminated against in the Dutch East Indies. In the VOC period Catholic mission were seen as linked with Portuguese claims to East Indonesia and Catholic mission was forbidden outside the island of Flores. The situation changed in 1854, when the government recognized the Roman Catholic Church in Holland and allowed it to re-establish its Episcopal hierarchy in the Netherlands. In the same year the Apostolic Vicariate of Batavia, which included the whole of the Dutch East Indies, got Mgr. Jac. Grooff as its new bishop. Roman Catholic mission work in New Guinea began in 1894 when the Jesuit Cornelis le Cocq d’Armandville came from Seram to Fak-Fak, where he baptized 73 people after staying there for only ten days. He established in 1895 a mission station in Kapaur, Ayer Besar, east of Fak-Fak, with a school with the protestant Chr. Pelletimu as a teacher. The station was closed after the sudden death of Le Cocq the following year. All mission work needed the permission of the government. New Guinea was divided into spheres of demarcation. The Governor General did not allow the Catholics to establish themselves in Fak-Fak, Inanwatan and in Berau, as this was “protestant area”. This decision was based on article 123 of the Governmental Regulations (Regeringsreglement, since 1925 Article 177 of the Indies’ Government Regulations or Indische Staatsregeling), which stipulated that the establishment of mission posts needed the permission by the Governor-General. In 1912 a separation line had been drawn to separate the Roman Catholic and the Protestant missions. The Catholics were not allowed North of the 4 degrees 30 seconds SB meridian. They considered the rule as unfair and continued to claim Fak-Fak and parts of the Bird’s Head, based on the visits by Le Cocq between 1894 and 1896. They referred to an agreement between the Netherlands and the Holy See of 1848 that gave the Catholics the right to move freely in Ambon and other places of the Moluccas.

In 1902 the Catholics established the Vicariate of  Netherlands New Guinea, separated from the Apostolic Vicariate of Batavia, with Mgr. Dr. Matthias Neijens as Apostolic Prefect, who was based in Langgur on the Kei Islands. It included, apart from South and West New Guinea, Biak and Numfor, the Kei Islands, the Tanimbar Islands, Banda, Saparua, Seram, Halmahera and other islands of the Moluccas. The Jesuits had worked for 14 years with success on the Kei Islands. The Kei remained an important source for teachers-catechists (gurus). The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (MSC) based in Tilburg, the Netherlands, provided the pioneer missionaries for the Southern part of Dutch New Guinea. In 1905 the MSC Brothers Melchior Oomen and Dion. van Roessel and the Fathers H. Nollen and Phil. Braun came to Merauke. Br. Oomen died the next year, while van Roessel and Braun left Merauke for Kei in 1906. Fr. Nollen also left for the more promising Kei in 1909. Fr. Vertenten served the longest in the area. From 1910 to1915 he served in Okaba, which is situated 60 km west of Merauke, and from 1915 to 1925 in Merauke.

At the constant pressure of the mission the Government began action against headhunting. In 1907 the Marind-anim had been punished by the Government for head hunting, but this was not effective as they again made head hunting raids on a large scale in 1911. In 1913 the Government took stern action against head hunting, acts of revenge, burying people alive and infanticide. In the same year Fr Jos van de Kolk developed the idea of a model kampung (village) in Okaba. In 1914 Merauke got its model kampung. The aim of this idea was to enforce a radical change of life of the Marind-anim in order to save them from extinction by the venereal granuloma. Fertility rituals like the otiv bombari which implied sexual promiscuity were forbidden by the government as well as by the mission. This venereal disease had only recently been introduced, most likely by Australian workers who helped building the Merauke government station and who had casual sexual relations with Marind anim women. It was traditional that many male members of the husband’s clan after the marriage had the duty to have intercourse with the bride on the first night. This led to infertility due to a rupture of the uterus. Life in the model kampong, which could be easily controlled by the mission, would make these practices more difficult to do. In 1914 World War I broke out. This made the funding of the mission more difficult and as a consequence all mission stations were closed except Merauke, where Fr. Petr. Vertenten and Brothers. J. Joosten and H. van Santvoort stayed.

The post-war Spanish influenza pandemic of 1919 proved another disaster for the people of the South Coast of New Guinea. Almost one in five people died because of it. Soon after this disaster Fr Vertenten began an active publicity campaign to press for an active and intensive interference of the government in the life of the Marind-anim in order to prevent the total extinction of the tribe. The Government gave in and began to support the establishing of “model villages” by the mission and the building of mission schools. The young Marind-anim were completely taken out of their natural environment and raised under strict mission control in boarding schools. Here they were, initially, forced to wear Western clothes. The German anthropologist Paul Wirz strongly criticized the policy of the mission as it could only be implemented by using considerable violence. In 1922 and 1923 the mission posts of Okaba and Wendu were re-established, while a new post at Wambi was established. In 1926 the mission opened the Mimika area from Lunggu.. In the same year the Government established a post in Kokonao. The Catholics established a mission post there the next year. In 1929 the mission established itself in Fak-Fak. This move led to a serious conflict with the Protestant mission. According to the Catholics Sakertemin, a village near Fak-Fak, had asked the mission permission to become Catholic, on the basis of the visit of Le Cocq almost three decades earlier. Action by Roman Catholic politicians in Holland, informed by the mission about the issue, led in principle to the abolition of the separation line to prevent “dubbele zending.”  At a Conference in Ambon between UZV and the RC Mission the Governor of the Moluccas, however, still objected to the Catholics moving to the Bird’s Head, Waropen and the area around Hollandia (Jayapura) for security reasons. The Protestant mission consul, based in Batavia was also present at the meeting. He argued that if the Catholics would move into Protestant areas the Protestants would have the right to move into the Catholic area of South New Guinea. Not much later a teacher from the Protestant Church of the Moluccas (Gereja Protestan Maluku, hence the GPM), arrived in Kokonao, where the Catholics had just opened a station. This led to a strong competition in the building of schools. Finally, in 1928 Fr Cappers got permission to move to West New Guinea, with the exception of the Bird’s Head. By that time the UZV had already seven schools in the Fak-Fak area. In that year the MSC got help from the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (FDNSC), an order like the MSC established by the French father Jules Chevalier, based in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Two years later the UZV handed its mission work around Fak-Fak, Kaimana and the Arguni Bay over to the GPM. In 1931 there was a conflict in the Bintuni Bay, where a Roman Catholic teacher was removed by police after working there for five months. In 1932, at the educational Conference at Tual, the Protestants proposed that the GPM would leave Merauke if the Roman Catholics would be prepared to leave the Bird’s Head. This was unacceptable for Bishop Aerts.  But Bishop Aerts promised that the catholic mission would not enter an area in which the protestants were already intensively working.

In 1936 the Roman Catholic Mission got the right from the Governor-General to establish missions anywhere. The next year the Catholics established their first school in the Bird’s Head in Manehui. In the same year 1937 the Dutch Franciscans entered the mission in New Guinea. Five Franciscans priests and one brother established themselves in Fak Fak, Babo, Ternate and Manokwari. Fak Fak had then 700 baptized members and fifteen schools. Babo is the place where the New Guinea Oil Company (NG Petroleum Maatschappij) found oil. It built houses, offices, a hospital and a laboratory. The company employed one hundred people from Kei, who had their own resident priest. From Babo he served eight villages. In 1937 the GPM had to withdraw from Mimika because of  a shortage of funds.

In 1938 the commander of the field police, J. P. K. van Eechoud, one of the few Roman Catholic civil servants, organized a government expedition to Paniai, which Fr. Tillemans  joined, because Fr. Tillemans had been a member of the original party of Bijlmer, the first expedition into the Highlands. On the basis of this visit the Catholics claimed the Me area and the area of the Moni. (Dit is onjuist: ongeveer tegelijkertijd met de missie kwam ook de CAMA isn dit gebied. Na overleg met  V. de Bruyn werd besloten tot een voorlopige verdeling te komen. Zie o.a. De Bruyn, Het verdwenen volk. In 1940 the Franciscans established a mission school in Arso, east of Jayapura, with Otto Suarabun as a teacher. 50 Children went to school there. The area had been opened by the government in  May 1939. In 1942 the first school children were baptized there.

By 1940 the mission had in South New Guinea Merauke and five other stations, 16 sub-stations, eight churches, 30 elementary schools and a Papuan community of about 2,800. In West New Guinea and Mimika there were then two hospitals, two dispensaries, 173 schools and 10 other institutions serving about 1,600 Catholics.

5. The War and post war development: 1942-1962.

a. Introduction

In May 1940 the German armies occupied the Netherlands. This led to the disruption of the communication with the mission headquarters. In April 1942 the Japanese landed in New Guinea and soon conquered most of it, except Merauke and Boven-Digul. In May 1943 the Japanese occupied the area of Paniai, where Dr. J. V. de Bruyn still had continued his work as “controleur” (district officer). All European missionaries and other Europeans, except those with German nationality, were interned and forcibly moved to POW camps in East Indonesia. The Japanese executed on 30 July 1942 15 missionaries of the Sacred Heart in Langgur, Kei, including the Vicar Apostolic Bishop Johannes Aerts. Earlier Fr. A. Guikers OFM was executed in Ransiki near Manokwari. The missionaries in Merauke Regency, which was never occupied, just continued to do their work.

The church had now to stand on its own and it, increasingly, became self sufficient. The Japanese occupation led to hardships for the Papuans as they were forced to work to build air fields and roads without compensation. The Japanese dealt harshly with any opposition or perceived opposition. Angganita Menufandu led a salvation movement on the North Coast. She had appointed herself as Queen of New Guinea and had also an army. She was arrested and beheaded by the Japanese in 1942. The Simson movement, led by Somlena from Tablanusa in the Depapre area West of present day Jayapura had some Christian elements, but it practiced communication with the spirits of the deceased on graveyards. This movement was equally harshly repressed. Its leader was arrested and probably executed by the Japanese in Jayapura. Gurus were sometimes forced to join the Japanese police. The Japanese language replaced Dutch at the schools.

In April 1944 the Americans landed at Jayapura (Hollandia). From September 1944 to March 1945 General Douglas MacArthur had his headquarters for the New Guinea and the Philippines campaign in Hollandia at Ifar Gunung. By July 1944 the Japanese were defeated in New Guinea after several fierce battles. Under the aegis of the Allied command the Dutch government returned to New Guinea as NICA (Netherlands Indies Civil Administration) with its headquarters in Kampung Harapan (Kota Nica) halfway between Sentani and Abepura. Most of Indonesia remained occupied by the Japanese until 15 August 1945. The Dutch government was not able to return there until the beginning of 1946.

The Government had not been very active to develop West Papua and the Papuans. In 1947 Netherlands New Guinea became a residency, separated from Ternate (the North) and from Ambon (the South). After the handing over of the sovereignty of Indonesia to the Federal Republic of Indonesia (RIS) in December 1949 New Guinea was left outside the Indonesian Republic. The Dutch Government now began in earnest to develop the area and to assist with the advancement of the Papuans, considering itself the mandatory power of the United Nations. The Papuans were being prepared for self determination. Missions received large grants in aid to set up an educational system and to initiate medical work. Hundreds of teachers and medical staff were recruited in the Netherlands. From 1938 onwards West Papua had known a so called “civilization school” (“beschavingsschool”). The aim was “to civilize” the Papuans with subjects like order and hygiene, playing, flute playing, singing, the preparation of parties, dancing, school gardens, basket weaving and  the Three Rs. From 1945 onwards “people’s schools” (Volksscholen) were founded with a more academic curriculum of Malay, reading, drawing, reading, writing, singing, flute playing and handicraft. After seven?? years Volksschool (? Ik dacht dat officieel de Volksschool drie jaar duurde, waarna de VVS kon volgen. Dat levered tesamen het niveau van de lagere school, althans dat was de bedoeling)the best pupils could continue to a Vervolgschool, hence VVS, which provided in a three years course basic secondary(??) education. The Protestants were at an advantage as they had more and better schools. , so more of their pupils could continue to further education. At the VVS a Papuan elite was being formed. Here Papuans were selected for further studies to become teacher, police officer or government official, and also those Papuans were trained, who later represented the Territory at international conferences like those of the South Pacific. In the 1950s there was a strong effort by the Catholics to catch up with the Protestants in the area of education.

b. The Reformed Mission and the GKI

In the post war period in the Reformed Mission devolution took place, with more and more responsibilities being handed over to the Papuans. In 1954 a  theological school was established in Serui on Yapen Island by Rev. Isaac Kijne to train Papuans as ministers. In 1956 the Evangelical Christian Church (Gereja Kristen Injili di Nederlandsch Nieuw Guinea, GKI) was inaugurated, to become independent of mission control. The mission of the Dutch Mennonite Mission Association (Doopsgezinde Zendingsvereniging, DZV), active in the Bird’s Head peninsula also joined the new church. It was symptomatic that at the inauguration of the new church only the Moluccan Church (GPM) recognized the new GKI. The Roman Catholic Church recognized it later, but the other Reformed and the Evangelical missions did not recognize the GKI. This means that they would not object to do mission work among GKI adherents. The conservative Reformed missions considered the GKI “not faithful to the Bible.” The Evangelical missions considered the GKI in fact pagan or at most syncretistic. Both type of missions were very anti-Catholic.

Between 1956 and 1962 the relations between the Netherlands and Indonesia heated up on the issue of New Guinea, which Indonesia claimed as Indonesian territory. The Dutch Mission of the Netherlands Reformed Church (ZNHK or “Oegstgeest”), the post war successor of the UZV, was ambivalent on the issue. By and large it supported the Indonesian claim to New Guinea as the mission still had interests in Indonesia. Moreover, some leading Dutch theologians with an Indonesian work experience, like Johannes Verkuyl (Salatiga), Hendrick Kraemer and Henk Visch (Bali), strongly identified with the nationalist case of the Republic of Indonesia, which claimed West Papua in order “to finish the revolution.”  Their views were strongly opposed by most of the Papuans and by the Dutch missionaries and teachers working in New Guinea. They supported the Dutch government in its effort to grant, in the long run, independence to the Papuans, separate from the Republic. When the Indonesian economy began to decline in the mid 1950s and when in 1957 Soekarno proclaimed Indonesia as a “guided” democracy, had himself appointed himself as a president “for life” and the army began to play a more prominent political role it became even less attractive for the Papuans to join the Indonesian Republic.

In the GKI there was only a small, but vocal minority that was pro-Indonesian. It came from Serui where Dr. Sam Ratulangi, a medical doctor and Indonesian freedom fighter from the Minahasa, had spent his banishment from 1946 to 1948. Here he could easily influence many future leaders of the Papuans, as Serui was an educational centre. Only later, when it seemed inevitable, the GKI under Rev. Rumainum, the first chairman of Synod, began to support the “integration” of West New Guinea into the Unitary Indonesian Republic. However, a leading missionary like Dr Freerk Kamma, gave up his position as a missionary in April 1961 to join full time the New Guinea Council, the forerunner of a Papuan parliament. Kamma represented the inhabitants of the eastern Highlands. Izaak Samuel Kijne, the Dutch educationalist, had written a number of school books, where the Papuan identity was stressed, like “Itu Dia”. His reading book “Kota Mas” (the Golden City) became very popular, as it linked up a Christian story with elements of  basic myths of the Papuans. Kijne also composed “Hai Tanahku Papua” (Oh My Land Papua), what became the Papuan national anthem in 1961, published in the booklet “Seruling Mas” (the Golden Flute).

 

 

“Ressort”

Presbyteries Congregations  Candidate congregations  

Members

Ministers Guru Jemaat  Evangelists
  1. Hollandia-Nimboran

4

100

25

24,000

8

100

23

  1. Sarmi

3

37

18

5,663

4

35

18

  1. Yapen-Waropen

5

70

20

26,000

6

110

20

  1. Biak-Numfor

6

122

34,000

8

130

  1. Manokwari

6

56

29

5,436

3

60

30

  1. Miei-Nabire

5

60

10,000

2

56

  1. Sorong-Bintuni

14

60

70

17,000

4

100

70

  1. Teminabuan

2

55

20

2,655

3

50

20

  1. Inanwatan

2

12

5

3,655

2

17

5

  1. Dutch speaking presbytery

1

8

3,000

8

              Total

45

580

187

131,409

48

658

186

 

Table III: The GKI when founded in 1956

c. The Catholic Mission, 1942-1962

Most of the colonial civil servants were Protestant. Roman Catholics felt at times that they were treated in an unfair way. When the Catholic Jan van Eechoud became Resident (Governor) in 1947, the Protestants accused him of favouring the Catholics by allowing them to move into the Baliem valley.Dit is onjuist: Alle missionarissen werd verboden om de Baliemvallei te betreden. Fr. Kammerer, die vanuit Paniai probeerde de Baliem te bereiken. is niet verder geweest dan de grens. Pas nadat eerst de CAMA in 1954, en daarna het bestuur in 1956 waren gevestigd in de Baliem kwam de katholieke missie in 1957. There were again Protestant protests when in 1951 the Catholics established a higher secondary school (Hogere Burgerschool, HBS) in Jayapura, the first of that kind in the Territory. Many considered this form of education too advanced for the Papuans. In 1957 this school became a joint Roman Catholic and Protestant venture.

In Sorong where the oil had brought many migrants, among whom were Catholics, the mission opened a primary boarding school and a lower secondary school. In 1948 the Mission Sisters of  the Precious Blood, also called the Sisters of  Tienray, the Netherlands, went to Sorong and Fak-Fak to help in opening boarding schools for girls there. The next year the mission went to Sausopor, though several villages had already a Protestant church there. In 1949 the Franciscan mission was separated from the Vicariate of New Guinea to form the Apostolic Prefecture Hollandia with Fr. A. Cremers as Apostolic Prefect. Ternate and Halmahera became part of the new Vicariate Apostolic of Amboina. In 1950 the Vicariate Merauke was separated from the Vicariate of Amboina. The Vicariate of Merauke, with Fr. H. Tillemans as Apostolic Vicar, served South New Guinea, while the Vicariate of Holandia served North and West New Guinea, which included the Bird’s Head. By 1952 there were priests in Enarotali, Waghete, the Kamu plains, Mappi and Epouto on the Tage Lake, where the Sisters of the Franciscan Third Order, a lay institute, from Brummen, the Netherlands, established a boarding school for girls. Catechists from Mimika and Paniai assisted in this mission work.  In 1953 the Vicariate of Jayapura had 39 Franciscan Friars. There were 102 Catholic village schools, with 130 teachers and 3,500 pupils. Three quarters of the schools received government grants in aid. There was a General Primary School that used Dutch as medium of instruction. Sorong and Fak-Fak had also such an “Algemene Lagere School” with 400 pupils. In that year five Sisters from Heerlen came to work in Enarotali, Biak(??Daar zijn in die tijd nooit zusters geweest. De zusters van Heerlen zijn begonnen in Kokonao, en later naar Enarotali gekomen. Rond 1960 is er een zuster naar Biak gekomen, en nog later, 1968 in Jayapura. Daar waren toen al zusters van Bennebroek ) and Jayapura. The same year the Augustinian fathers began work in an area South of Jayapura.(De augustijner paters werkten samen met de franciscanen.In 1957 namen zij de zorg voor de Vogelkop over van de franciscanen. Later werd dit het bisdom Manokwari/Sorong) In 1958 the Catholics opened a lower secondary school (Primaire Middelbare School, hence PMS) in Hollandia, which had already a Protestant PMS.

In 1956 the Dutch order of the Brothers of Our Lady of the Seven Dolours or “Broeders van Voorhout” (hence CSD) established itself in Kepi and in the Mappi area. The brothers introduced a regional project with an agricultural centre in Mappi. This Welfare Plan Mappi and the Regional Plan, which encouraged the cultivation of cocoa and rubber, were joint ventures of the mission and the government. Efforts were made at contextualisation of the Gospel. There was a collective planting day, which was a religious festival with a Eucharist in the gardens, the blessing of oil palm nuts and coconuts, the receiving of guests and singing and dancing. The Yah’ray (or Yaqay), however, refused to take part in the project as in their opinion it only benefited the mission and the government.  In 1957 the Brothers established a Vervolgschool in Muyu.

In 1958 the Dutch MSC handed over the area of Asmat to the Crosier Fathers and Brothers (the Canons Regular of the Order of the Holy Cross) from America. In 1969 the Asmat Mission became the Diocese of Agats with Alphonsus Sowada OSC as its first bishop. The Crosier Fathers concentrated on the preservation of the Asmat culture and the contextualisation of the Gospel. Without head hunting, which was forbidden by the Government, the traditional culture was doomed. The Mission encouraged woodcarving independent of headhunting. A museum of Asmat art was built in Agats and the marketing of the art promoted. This provided a livelihood and pride in their work to the artists and to the Asmat in general.

To the South of Waris the Franciscans opened two stations, one in Amgotro and another one in Ubrub in 1952-1954. Between 1957 and 1959 the Franciscan Mission in Paniai expanded its work into the Moni area in Kemandora and Dugiundora, among the Amungme in Tsingga, Nuemba, towards Ilaga, the Dani area of the Baliem Valley and towards Sibil in the Star Mountains. In this period the Catholic mission began to build its first airstrips. The Association Mission Aviation, AMA, was founded, which bought its first aircraft in 1958. In 1959 Manokwari became a Prefecture Apostolic with Dutch Augustinians in charge. Fr. Petrus van Diepen OSA was its first Apostolic Prefect. Ten fathers worked in five stations in Manokwari, Sorong, Ayawasi-Fuog, Tintum-Ases and Bintuni or Steenkool, which had replaced Babo as the main population centre in the Bintuni Gulf. The area had then 4,000 Catholics, half of them Papuans.

After the Second Vatican Council the Catholics became more open to co-operation with other churches in the area of human rights action, education and also ecumenism. For instance in 1969 the Roman Catholic Church and the GKI made an agreement of mutual recognition of the sacrament of baptism.

c. The Evangelical and conservative Protestant missions

The Christian and Missionary Alliance (CAMA) from America began work in Paniai already in 1939, when it established a post in Enarotali. In August 1942 it had its first conversion of 16 Mee people. In May 1943 the Americans Walter Post, Einar Mickelson and the Mee Christian Zakheus Pakage, one of the early converts, were airlifted out of the Paniai region to Australia, just before the Japanese entered the area. The Japanese destroyed mission property and church buildings. In 1947 the first Mee were baptized. In 1952 the first Me left the Bible school to be ordained as ministers (pendetas). In 1954 CAMA began work in the Baliem Valley among the Dani, where it used its own water plane to enter the area, inaccessible by land road. In 1956 CAMA moved to the Ilaga Valley and to the Beoga valley to work among the Moni and Damai people. In 1962 130 Danis were baptized in the station at Pyramid.

In this period we see the emergence and of several messianistic or salvation movements. The concept “cargo cults” explains in an unsatisfactory way the interaction between traditional religious attitudes and Christianity. In a way these new religious movements form a specific Papuan response to the message of the Gospel. These movements may promise immediate and concrete rewards of conversion. However, the churches are doing something similar, enticing Papuans with small gifts, like tobacco and betel nuts. The Papuans get education and health services only through the mission. They can get paid jobs and new responsibilities and positions of authority. Through the church they get the opportunity to travel and meet other people and meet marriage partners outside their own clan and/or language group. These are all concrete benefits of conversion. During the period under review we see numerous religious movements which emerge inside and outside the established churches. Some of these movements are a form of protest, while others try to re-establish a group or tribal identity. This is the case of the Wege Bage movement, established by Zakheus Pakage, in the Paniai area.

Zakheus Pakage had studied for the ministry in Makassar from 1946 to 1950 sponsored by the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CAMA), which is active in the Paniai area. On his return to Paniai the people of Tigi, in the southern part of the Paniai regency, asked CAMA to send Zakheus to teach them, though this area was given exclusively to the Catholics in 1939. Zakheus drew there great crowds of people. It led to a great revival and to fetish burnings. In 1951 he began, however, to experience opposition from those people who had accepted Catholicism, especially from the headmen who felt their position threatened.  In that year tribal wars took place. According to some people it was the Catholics who started spreading false rumours about Zakheus, as he was working with success in “their” area. He was several times arrested accused of stirring up people against the government. In October 1951 Zakheus was arrested accused of instructing his brother Jordan Pakage to burn houses and to kill pigs. Much of the local opposition came from Weakebo, a leader of the Mote clan, a rival clan of the Pakage clan of Zakheus. In 1951 Zakheus began to ask his followers to make a complete break with their non-Christian past by moving to separate villages, the so called Wege Bage communities. Wege Bage is a nickname given to the Zakheus communities as it means “the disruptors of peace and order”, “those who bring chaos.” In 1952, after a conflict with CAMA missionaries Zakheus was declared mentally ill. He was taken to the mental hospital in Abepura. Only in 1958 he could return to Paniai, but sent back to Sentani in 1963. He died there in 1970. Though Zakheus had passed away, the movement still exists and it is growing. It sees itself as the national church of the Me people of Paniai. The Wege Bage try to reconcile their traditional Me religion with the Gospel. In their idea God already existed before Christianity came to Paniai. The teachings of Zakheus are seen as the lost Bible of the Me. Zakheus is Koyeidaba, the Me Messiah, who has returned. There is, basically, in their view no difference between Me traditional religion and Christianity. [7]

Conversion to Christianity (as led by the CAMA) in the Highlands took often place in the form of mass conversions, going together with an apparent complete break with traditional religion, as amulets, holy stones, masks and other sacred objects were destroyed. Missionaries had an ambivalent attitude towards this phenomenon. Was this really inspired by the Holy Spirit? What could have been the motivations for conversion even before the most elementary principles of Christian doctrine had been taught? The type of conversion shows similarities with that of the “koreri” and independent church movements mentioned above. Conversion can be related to elements in the social structure of traditional society. In Paniai conversion was the result of a strategy by local Big Men to settle their conflicts with Big Men of rival clans. For instance the conversion of Weakebo, a Big Man of the Mote clan was in the context of a rivalry with the Pakage clan about land use in the Tigi district. In the same way particular clans choose to join the Roman Catholic Church, the independent Wege Bage movement or the Evangelical Tabernacle Church (Gereja Kemah Injili di Indonesia, hence GKII). In one such move one Big Man could have many of his sons trained as a minister or a teacher and his daughters getting married to ministers. In this way he could, through the mission and the church, enormously increase his power of patronage. (In the areas where the catholic missionaries worked there was never mentioning of a mass conversion movement, except at the Amungmè. And even there, it went in a very orderly way, without much burning of fetish). As far as I know, it  occurred only at the Western Dani. See Douglas Hayward, The Dani before and after conversion)

6. Confrontation, appeasement and Freedom: 1962 to 2004

Under strong political pressure of the Kennedy administration, the Dutch government concluded the New York Agreement in August 1962, when it was on the brink of war with Indonesia, which had mobilized all its troops. Papuans did not participate in this agreement. The Dutch handed over the administration of the territory by 1 October of that year to the United Nations. The UN, in turn, handed its administration to Indonesia on 1 May 1963. Not later then 1969 the Papuans would get an opportunity to express their opinion about the integration with Indonesia in a UN supervised “Act of Free Choice”.

a. Adaptation to Indonesian rule

From the very beginning in October 1962 the Indonesian army behaved more like an army of occupation than like one that had liberated the Papuans from an oppressive colonial power. The army claimed the land and its people by right of conquest. It tried to wipe out completely any traces of the Dutch presence in government and education. All schools had to destroy their textbooks in Dutch. From one day to the other teaching and examinations had to change from Dutch to Malay (Indonesian or Bahasa Indonesia). All textbooks of the Dutch period were replaced by those used in the rest of Indonesia, though the stories were in no way appropriate to the culture and scenery of New Guinea. Papuan children had to learn about a Javanese boy named Ahmed and about volcanoes, trains and railways stations. The educated Papuans in church, the educational system, commerce and government were suspected of being pro-Dutch and, by implication, anti-Indonesian. In the security approach of the Indonesian army this meant that these were people declared to be the “enemies.” In December 1962 there was a night raid on the dormitories of the Teacher Training College, the Civil Servants school (“Bestuursschool”), the Agricultural College and the Christian schools in Kota Raja in Jayapura, led by Indonesian soldiers, using pro-Indonesian groups. Students were beaten up and then transported to the military camp at Ifar Gunung, where they were imprisoned.  A considerable group of respected Papuans ended up in prison or were killed. Among them were Eliezer Jan Bonay, the first governor of Irian Barat (Irian Jaya, West Papua), Rev. G. A. Lanta, the former vice-chairman of the Synod of the GKI, Rev. Silas Chaay, secretary of the GKI, Rev. Osok of the Moi tribe of the Bird’s Head, Saul Hindom, who had studied in Utrecht and was the leader of Shell in Biak, Hank Yoka, the former secretary of the New Guinea Council, Alfeus Yoku, a leader from Sentani and David Hanasbey, inspector of police in Jayapura. Permenas Yoku, a teacher in Sentani, was killed at the end of 1963, because he refused to sign a pro-Indonesian declaration[8] Johan Ariks, former chairman of the Papua delegation at the Round Table Conference in 1949, died, at the age of 70, in Manokwari prison, after a speech he held on 1 July 1965, which was considered  to be anti-Indonesian. It was a policy of the intelligence department to eliminate in a secret way anybody suspected of having links with people who wanted to overthrow the Indonesian Government.[9] According to conservative estimates about 100,000 Papuans have been killed by the Indonesian army and police since 1962.

Dutch missionaries and teachers were allowed to stay. However, almost all Dutch Protestant missionaries and teachers left before the end of 1962. This meant a considerable loss. In 1956 of the 31 ministers still 13 were Dutch missionaries. In 1961 there were still 137 Dutch teachers, while the theological college had four Dutch lecturers. Rev. Tjakraatmadja from West Java was sent and supported by the mission to teach in the college. The Dutch speaking presbytery of the GKI was abolished at the emergency meeting of Synod in 1962. The Dutch Franciscans, the Augustinians, the Crosier Fathers and Brothers, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and the Dutch Sisters stayed. All bishops and the archbishop were then Dutch. Most Dutch Catholic missionaries later opted for Indonesian citizenship when it was offered. The first Papuan bishop, Mgr. John Philip Saklil from Kampung Umar, Kokonao, West Timika, Mimika Regency was consecrated bishop of the new diocese of Timika, separated from the diocese of Jayapura, in April 2004.

The churches had to adapt to work under an Indonesian government which had clear Moslem sympathies in the way it spend government grants to religions. 80 % of the government grants to religions went to the Moslems, though in West Papua they were only a tiny minority. The transmigration program of the government led to an influx of Moslems, who occupied the senior posts in government and administration. There is also the iron-fisted approach of the army and police (ABRI) towards any, even innocent, opposition to Indonesian rules and regulations. Any feeling of a separate identity, like “Papuaness”, was discouraged or even punished. Arnold Ap, director of the Museum of Anthropology of the Cenderawasih University, introduced Papua hymns in Christian worship. He was accused of introducing war songs in order to lead the GKI against the Indonesian army. He was killed by the Indonesian army, on 26 April 1984 together with Eddie Mofu, his fellow musician of the group Mambesak.[10] Another Papuan intellectual and leader, Thomas Wanggai, died in 1996 in a Javanese prison, after being convicted to life imprisonment for raising a home made flag of the fictitious “Republic of Western Melanesia”. Theys Eluay, chairperson of the Presidium of the Papua Council (PDP), who used Christian metaphors in his peaceful struggle for Papuan freedom, was killed in November 2001 by Kopassus soldiers.

The police and army kept a close watch on the leadership of the Church. Not even the slightest criticism on the conduct of the Indonesian army was acceptable. When the Synod complained in 1963 that the Indonesian army took away almost everything, even empty bottles, to Java, the synod council was strongly reprimanded and accused of anti-Indonesian activities. Critical voices from the Roman Catholic Church were also silenced. Fr. Haripranoto Haripranata SJ, for instance, had to leave West-Papua in 1970.b. The GKI

The GKI, the largest church, was in fact more or less the “established” church in the Dutch period. Many of the Dutch government officers were members, while most of the Papuan civil servants and police were also members. Now the GKI had to develop a theology of adaptation and collaboration to survive. The fifth synod meeting of 1968 in Jayapura was crucial as Indonesia wanted to collect support for the Act of Free Choice[11] in 1969, which at all costs had to go in favour of Indonesia. Rev. Tjakraatmadja, said at the opening that everybody is collected in Christ, (Col. 3, 11) because Jesus Christ has died for everybody. Christ has endured the free choice, which is the cross of Golgotha. In that he was already the implementer of the “act of free choice” for the salvation of all people who have faith. That the Church obeys and accepts the government is based on Romans 13. Illuminated by the Word of God it rejects the idea that the voice of the people is the voice of God as satanic qualities have overpowered humankind.[12]  The implication seems to be that participation in the act of free choice will bring the cross, that is suffering, for the Papuan people. Rev. I. Mori was then the chairman of synod, succeeding Rev. F. J. S. Rumainum who had served more than eleven years as chairman. At this synod meeting the chairperson of the DGI, the Indonesian Christian Council, Lieutenant-general (ret.) T. B. Simatupang, explained the advantages of the Pancasila ideology as a way of protection of religious minorities. With this chairman, who was still considered to be one of the military, the conduct of the army in Irian Jaya since 1962 could not be discussed. Synod delegates who criticized the stand of Simatupang at the synod meeting got later a visit at home by soldiers, who threatened them as they had shown disrespect to a former army officer. The Military Commander of Irian Jaya-Maluku, present at the synod meeting, told the synod that the Dutch were to blame as it was their heritage that  the Papuans were afraid for the Indonesians by making them believe that the Indonesians would make the Papuans (1) poor, (2) communist and (3) expose them to islamisation!

Within this context it is clear that the GKI at synod or diocesan level hardly had the possibility to criticize the government or the army. This is probably because in the official, compulsory ideology of Panca Sila the state, that is the G

0. A Church History of West Papua [NOT FOR CITATION] [© 2004, A. N. Ipenburg]

1. Introduction

The history of the Church in West Papua is a history of the response of the Papuans to the introduction of the Christian faith by missionaries mainly from the Netherlands, Germany and the United States. To understand this response there is need to provide some introduction into the characteristics of Melanesian and Papuan culture and religion. The history of the church in West Papua is different from that of the church in most other parts of Indonesia. Until the last decades of the twentieth century for instance there was hardly any active role by Moslems. Till the 1960s Christianity was the established religion of the people and of the government. West Papua is still the region with the highest percentage of Christians in the population. Christianity has been an important factor in the strengthening of a Papuan identity, separate from a tribal identity.  Papuans developed a grassroots theology, which helped them to cope with the challenge of modernisation and to maintain and develop their identity, threatened in the New Order state of Suharto.

 

Christian mission began work in West Papua in 1855, almost half a century before the Dutch colonial government entered the territory to establish its first permanent government posts there. Systematic external interference in Papuan indigenous political and social institutions came late and has been, until recently, quite limited. Traditional ways of life could be preserved, especially in the Highlands, where 40 % of the Papuans live. The Indonesian Government and army only began to intervene intensively in the early 1960s in the culture, religion and economy of the Papuans, often using considerable violence. This was strongly resisted by the Papuans. They used Christian values and concepts in their struggle for freedom. Since the 1990s Papuans use mainly non-violent methods, aiming at reconciliation and dialogue as means to solve their conflict with the Indonesians. The movement is nevertheless harshly suppressed by the Indonesian army and police. From 1970 till 1998 West Papua was designated as a Military Operational Territory (Daerah Operasi Militer, DOM). This means the supremacy of the security forces in society, in politics and in the economy. 

 

   2. Background

West Papua (successively called Papua land or Tanah Papua, Nieuw Guinee, Nederlands Nieuw Guinea, Irian Barat, Irian Jaya, Papua, West Irian Jaya/Papua and West Papua) is the western part of the island of New Guinea. Its size is 420,000 sq. km, the size of California or one quarter the size of Indonesia without New Guinea. It has at present (2004) about 2.5 million inhabitants of which an estimated 1.6 million (about 65 %) Papuans. The remainder are “newcomers” (pendatang), who came after the incorporation of West Papua in Indonesia. There are three categories of these: (a) the transmigrants, who have been settled in West Papua by the government as peasant farmers, (b) the “free” migrants, who came as traders, taxi drivers, craftsmen, shopkeepers, salesmen and women at the market, miners and so on, and (3) government officials and army and police personnel, who were sent here on a tour of duty. Some of them bought a property and stayed after their retirement. Most of the migrants are from Java and by religion Muslim.

 

The Papuans are Melanesians. They have been there probably been there for 30,000 to 40,000 years. The origin of the Melanesians is uncertain. They may once have occupied the whole of Indonesia. In Indonesia there are still a few pockets of people who are ethnically and linguistically similar to the Papuans, e.g. in Timor, the interior of Seram, Tanimbar and other islands in East Indonesia. The enormous linguistic diversity of West Papua is evidence of a long stay. More than 250 languages are spoken. Some people on the North coast like the Biak and Numfor people speak Austronesian languages, which are members of the large language family to which also Malay, Malagasy and the Polynesian languages belong. Most Papuan languages are grouped together as “Trans-New Guinea languages”, with other languages classified as West Papuan, East Bird’s Head and Gelvink Bay languages. Many languages have less than 100 speakers. The largest language groups are: the Dani (270,000), the Mee, also known as Kapauke or Ekari, (100,000), the Biak-Numfor (40,000), the Yali (33,000), the Sentani (30,000 speakers), Moni (Paniai) (20,000) and the Asmat (19,000). Smaller groups are: the Hatam (Moi) 16,000, the Meyah 15-20,000, the Damal 14,000, the Ketengban, the Manikion, the Yaqai, the Mandobo, the Marind-anim, the Amungme and the Ayfat[1]

 

The peoples at the North Coast and on Biak, the people from Numfor and Yapen, islands in the Cenderawasih Bay, as well those of the South coast of the Bird’s Head, live from cassava, fishing and hunting. The Highlands, unexplored until the 1940s and 1950s, is twice the size of Switzerland. The people of the Highlands practice a fairly sophisticated form of agriculture, with terracing and the making of stone fences. The Papuans are among the first cultivators in the world. The main crop is the sweet potato (“batatas” ), a crop originating from Middle America and brought to East Indonesia by the Portuguese in the early 16th century. The introduction of the sweet potato, which replaced the yam (keladi), enabled the Papuans to settle in the Highlands, which are too cold for other crops. The sweet potato is the main staple food for humans and for the pigs. The pig has a very important role in society. It is used to pay a bride price, to compensate for damages and to establish peace between rival groups and villages. One who is able to organize a pig feast enhances his status. In regular pig festivals a large number of pigs are slaughtered and eaten. Here, traditionally, the archetypal pig is honoured, which is a saviour hero who sacrificed himself in order to provide the food crops humankind needed for survival. The ethnic groups in the South, in the Merauke and in the Mimika regencies, were traditionally hunters and food gatherers, though cassava is also cultivated. Among these, the Asmat and Marind-anim are world famous for their wood carvings. The art is of a religious nature and closely connected with their headhunting raids. Headhunting was an integral part of their complex culture. Heads were needed for young men in order to get married. Heads gained in these raids were in their world view connected with the fertility of the land and the well-being of the tribe.[2]

 

West Papua is rich in minerals like copper, gold, oil and nickel. The exploration of fragrant wood (“kayu geharu”) and logging in the vast forests also brings in considerable wealth to some individuals. In 1967 an American company, Freeport McRohan, built the world’s largest copper and gold mine in the Amungme area, near Timika, on the South coast. In the 1990s huge deposits of LNG were found near Bintuni, in the Bird’s Head, which is exploited by BP. From the early 1970s onwards the Indonesian government introduced the policy of transmigration, in part financed by the World Bank, which brought poor and landless, mainly Javanese families to West Papua. They are given five acres of land (20,000 sq. m), a two bedroom wooden house, with a well and a pit latrine and just enough rice to make it until the next harvest. After five years the land becomes their property. The vast majority of these transmigrants are Moslems. Only very few of the plots are made available for Papuans on the same conditions as the outsiders. Of the other migrants, those who come on their own, an estimated one third comes from Java, one quarter from the Moluccas, while others come from North and Middle Sulawesi (Manadonese, Sangirese and Toraja), South Sulawesi (Buginese, Butonese, Makassarese), Sumatra (Batak and Minangkabau) or Flores and Timor. There are also a small number of Hindu Balinese and Buddhist Chinese.

 

Generally speaking Papuans have been left out of the type of development (“pembangunan”) of the New Order government of Soeharto. The land given to the transmigrants for free was taken away from the Papuans, often without proper compensation. In the modern sector of the economy private companies give preference to migrants with regard to employment. Migrants from South Sulawesi (Buginese, Butonese and Makassarese) have virtually monopolized the local open air markets (pasar). Papuans are heavily underrepresented in government service, in the police and in the army. Only since 1998, the provincial government has an affirmative employment policy for Papuans (“putra” and “putri daerah”). This Papuanisation is a slow process. From all modern institutions it is only the church and church-related institutions like schools that are controlled and dominated by Papuans.

 

    3. Before 1855: Early encounters?

There is no concrete evidence of Christian mission to West-Papua before the 19th century. However, Christianity in East Indonesia may still indirectly have influenced religion in West Papua. Portuguese and Spanish missionaries, Franciscans and others, were, from 1520 onwards, active in the Moluccas and established mission posts in Tidore, Ternate, Seram, Ambon and Banda. All these places had already trading relations with the Raja Ampat islands and the Bird’s Head of West Papua.  Spanish Jesuits were, in the same period, active in the Philippines and tried, from there, to get a foothold in the Moluccas and West New Guinea. Augustinians were also involved in mission work in the area. In 1538 Antonio Galvano ordered a journey of exploration to the Papuan Islands (Raja Ampat), to visit the rajas (rulers) of  Viaigue (Waigeo), Quibibi (Gebee?) and Mincimbo (Mansimbau?, Mansinam?). Nothing is known of the result of this enterprise. A later Jesuit report mentions that a delegation from the Papuan Islands asked for priests. There is a report from 1550 stating that there are Christians on the Papuan Islands. Freerk Kamma, a Dutch Reformed missionary, who worked in the Raja Ampat and the Bird’s Head from 1931 until 1962, found a Summa Theologia of Thomas Aquinas, used by a Papuan shaman as a tool for divination. This find could be seen as an indication of some form of early culture contacts between Papuans and Portuguese and/or Spanish missionaries.

 

At the beginning of the 17th century Portuguese and Spanish influence was replaced by that of the Dutch with the entry of the Dutch East India Company (VOC or “kompeni”) in East Indonesia. The Dutch did not give Christian mission as much priority as the Spanish and the Portuguese had been doing. However, it is possible that casual visits and information about Christianity since the early 16th century through trading contacts led to the emergence of new myths or to the transformation of local myths. Biak, Raja Ampat and large areas of the Cendrawasih Bay have myths about a self sacrificing Saviour, who left or died, but promised to return, when he would establish a kind of a millennium. The Biak people call this millennium “koreri”. This is announced by a forerunner of the messiah, a prophet, the “konor”. The messiah figure itself is called in Biak and Numfor the Manseren Mangundi. The Mee of Paniai, South-East of Nabire, have a similar myth of the return of  Koyeidaba. He gave his life to create new life to help humankind in a concrete way, with new food crops. According to the Mee anthropologist and church leader Dr Benny Giay, the Mee of Paniai saw themselves the close similarities of their religious myths with the Gospel. They even thought that the missionaries had come from America not to bring the Gospel, but “to steal” the Mee myths by giving cues about traditional Mee religion. Several tribes have similar stories about a millennium, which will be brought about by the advent of a messiah figure. The existence of this type of myths may have helped the Papuans to accept the Gospel. There is for them a continuity when converting to Christianity.

 

From 1828 till 1836 there was an effort to establish a Dutch settlement, Merkusoord, with Fort du Bus, on the Triton bay on the South Coast of New Guinea, east of Kaimana. This failed, as many settlers died of diseases. The local population continued to attack the settlers, encouraged by Muslim traders from Ternate, who feared the loss of their trading monopoly. This was a Christian presence, though there is no evidence of any influence on the conversion of the Papuans of the area. There was an expansion of Catholic Mission work in the Pacific toward New Guinea coming from the East (Hawaii, 1825). Early Catholic jurisdiction over the whole of the island of New Guinea, including West Papua, was from the Prefecture of the Sandwich Islands. The Marists entered the eastern half of the island in 1848. The Jesuits opened a station in Tual, Kei Islands in 1888, and in 1889 founded a station at Langgur, which became the main staging post for Catholic missions in the Moluccas and the south coast of West Papua. The Catholics only began their first mission reconnaissance tours in West Papua in the 1890s.

 

    4. “Injil Masuk (The Gospel Enters): 1855-1898

The first systematic mission effort in West Papua was an initiative of the German minister Johannes Evangelist Gossner (1773-1858). He was supported by the Dutch minister, Otto G. Heldring. Heldring was the founder of institutes for destitute women and girls (the Heldringgestichten in Zetten and in 1848 of the Christian Worker Association (“Vereeniging  Christen-Werkman”). He was involved in the revival movement in the Dutch churches, called the Réveil, the “Awakening”. Spokesmen for the Réveil , like Da Costa, Bilderdijk, De Clerq and Groen van Prinsterer, linked a messianism with the idea that Holland was a nation chosen by the Lord, the nation “on which Christ had laid His hand”. The Réveil saw a link between the loss of faith and the decline of the nation. These ideas have a close similarity with Christian beliefs now common with Papuans.

 

Gossner and Heldring shared ideas about mission. For an effective Christian mission one needs no more than a great faith, showing itself in action. A missionary only needs a Bible, a hymn book and “a heart filled with a living faith”. Simple craftsmen were the right missionaries as they would be able to make a living at their mission post by working. In their free time they could go out and preach the Gospel. This concept of mission is not unlike that of David Livingstone for Central Africa in the same period. Livingstone advocated mission work by Christian settlers, to combine Christianity with “commerce.” Evangelization had to be combined with economic development, with the introduction of new crops and modern technology. There was, possibly, a chiliastic aspect in the choice of West Papua for Christian mission, although the area was not even brought under colonial rule. Jesus had promised after his Resurrection that He would return as soon as the Gospel had reached “the ends of the earth.” There were not many areas in the world as remote as West Papua. So the area was selected, jumping over other areas, which were not yet evangelized.

                                                                                

It was Protestant missionaries who were the first to establish permanent mission posts in West New Guinea. This was quite decisive in the view of present day Papuans. According to them, the Gospel entered Papua land on Sunday 5 February 1855, when Carl Ottow and Johann Geissler set foot ashore at Mansinam, a small island near Manokwari. They knelt on the beach and prayed, claiming the whole island for Christ. The whole of West Papua was, as it were, baptized. This story is now used to claim West Papua for (Christian) Papuans against (Moslem) Indonesians of other islands. In 2001 5 February became a public holiday in the province.

 

The Papuans in the area where Carl Ottow and Johann Geissler worked were not easily converted. They were not prepared to change their customs, a precondition of conversion. Ottow and Geissler started with language study and soon produced a word list and a grammar of the Numfor language. In recognition for this work the Government supplied the missionaries each with a monthly grant of 50 Dutch Guilders[3]. They proposed a grand scheme to the Government to involve the Papuans in a tobacco plantation on the Kebar plateau, with the help of Christian farmers from Java. The scheme included the supply of 20 guns with ammunition “to strike awe into robbers” and the presence of some retired European or Ambonese soldiers. The Government rejected the plan, but still gave the missionaries half the 10,000 Guilders the scheme was budgeted for and two Javanese farmers with an expertise in tobacco cultivation. With these grants the government recognized the pioneering effort of the missionaries in opening up a new and unknown territory, only nominally part of the Dutch East Indies. The Government expected pacification “on the cheap”. This is evidenced by a remark by a government official, a former Resident of Ternate, who said that the Mission had to be considered as failed, as the Papuans did not show much enthusiasm about his arrival in Doreh! The financial support of the government enabled the missionaries to devote most of their time to mission work. However, they remained involved in trading. They bought food cheaply when it was in abundance and sold it at a profit when it was scarce. Papuans considered this unfair. Geissler also bought tortoise shells, trepang or sea cucumber, birds of paradise, copra and mother of pearl shells and exchanged these for cotton, iron, knives, beads, sarongs, mugs, plates and so on. The famous British naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace, who visited the Ottows in 1858, mentioned the difficulties arising when the missionary is a pastor and at the same time a trader who is after a profit from his flock. This was, in his opinion, in contradiction with the Christian message.[4]

 

In 1863 the Utrecht Mission Society (Utrechtse Zendings Vereniging, hence UZV)  began work in New Guinea with the sending of six full time and well trained theologians and artisans as missionaries. J. L. Van Hasselt, his wife S. Hulstaert, Th. F. Klaassen, his wife C. Aarsen and W. Otterspoor were the first of the new type of missionary.[5] The UZV forbade their missionaries to participate in trading. To prevent Moslem traders to fill the gap, and to help the Papuans to get inexpensive and useful commodities the UZV established a special trading committee. This functioned untill 1900 when it was made independent of the mission. There was no trading done on the first day of the week. This was to help Papuans to respect the Day of the Lord. From the beginning the mission did not sell alcoholic drinks or guns to the Papuans. To bring Papuans into their fold, missionaries started to entice young children to go to school. Only by giving presents to the parents children could be kept at the mission school. The curriculum stressed instruction in the Christian religion, apart from reading and writing. To secure attendance at church services the missionaries, initially, had to supply the congregation with tobacco, gambir (ingredient of the betel drug) and sirih (betel). This was stopped by Van Hasselt. There were two services on Sundays, a one hour service at 8 o’clock in the morning and another one at 5 o’clock in the afternoon. There were also daily services at 6 o’clock in the morning. A common method to get converts, though this was not uncontroversial, was to buy slave children to be raised in the household of the missionaries as their step children (“anak piara”). The wisdom of the method was debated, as the buying of slaves could create a new market. In 1880 Mrs Van Hasselt bought a girl for Dfl 60. On the other hand, the freed slave often saved his or her life by getting incorporated in the household of the missionary. Here they did household chores, participated in the house services of the missionaries and were given the opportunity to go to school. Even as late as 1900 Jens defended the method as the only one possible. Another problem of former slaves becoming early converts and then church leaders was that the fact that they had been sold put them in a class of their own, even if they returned to their home village. The church could not grow until it had non-slaves leading it. The first non-slave to be baptized was Timoteus Wirie in 1874. 

 

The message of the missionaries in this period was that the life of the Papuans was dominated by fear for the spirits of the deceased and all kinds of secret powers. The Gospel of Jesus Christ liberates us of all these powers and fears, “because He is more powerful and can protect those who belong to Him”. The missionaries, generally speaking, had a low view of the Papuans and their traditional religion. The Papuans were considered degenerated (“ontaard”). They were seen as having only nebulous ideas, while their energy was seen as limited. They were not aware of  the existence of a class of priests, which would keep the old traditions. Intellectually they saw the Papuans as being at a low level. Their main occupation was “feasting and once more feasting.” By 1880, 25 years after the arrival of the pioneers, only 20 people had been baptized, including those Papuan children adopted by the missionaries. Ten years later, in 1890 Mansinam had 42 full members, 44 baptized children, an average church attendance of 175, school attendance was at 60 and there were 32 catechesis students. In 1892 the mission sent two Papuan students, Petrus Kafiar and Timotheus Awendu, to the Depok Seminary for native missionaries, near Jakarta. They later became teacher-evangelists (guru).

 

   5. Mass conversions and education: 1898-1940

a. Introduction

In 1898 the Dutch colonial government established its first two permanent posts in New Guinea in Manokwari and Fak-Fak, and in 1902 a third one in Merauke. The mission welcomed the establishment of government control. In the words of one of them: “The cruel game is over. Dutch government authority now determines what is lawful. And with it one of the major pillars of paganism has been destroyed.” The Dutch initiative was forced by the threat that Britain, Germany, the United States and even Spain claimed West New Guinea. Spain claimed the Mapia Islands, North of Biak, as part of the Caroline Islands. On Mapia an American copra company had established itself and it had raised the Stars and Stripes. The Dutch intervened by sending a ship to haul the flag down. Government posts served mainly ‘to show the flag’. The establishment of these posts, in an area slightly smaller than France  could not hide the fact that New Guinea remained largely neglected. There was only slight interference with local customs and traditions which the government wanted to replace, like tribal and clan wars, headhunting, witch hunting and capital punishment. It was only the Christian missions that provided rudimentary services in health care and education.

 

b. The UZV and the “Indische Kerk”, 1898-1942

After almost half a century working almost without result the UZV at the North Coast, finally, began to see results. Many Papuans at the beginning of this period began to ask the missionaries for resident teachers and missionaries. Often people converted by way of group conversions, especially around the Cenderawasih Bay (Geelvink Baai). The first wave of conversions started on 1 January 1907 at Roon. Here Yan Ayamiseba, a former slave, died after an accident when cutting a tree. A few days before his death he told that he had a dream where he was allowed entry into heaven, where people with long hair, dressed in white, were seen when passing a door of gold. A dream is an acceptable and authoritative means of communication between the spirit world and the concrete world we live in. Gold replaces iron, which is associated with slavery. Long hair is a symbol of the free Papuans. The abode of the dead, according to the dream is not, as in traditional cosmology under the ground, but high up. This dream proved to be an effective form of contextualisation of the Christian message as brought by the Dutch and German missionaries.

 

Pamai, a Papuan from Ormu, west of Jayapura, brought the gospel to the people in the Sentani area at the end of the 1920s. He was himself illiterate, but taught the people to destroy their Kariwari-masks, after these had been shown to women, which was a taboo. He then taught the people the Lord’s Prayer and the 12 Articles of Faith. Pamai had been sick, he had died and then had appeared for the Lord, who told him that he could not yet enter Heaven before he had brought the Gospel to other people. The 1920s had seen the opening up of Papua economically. Copra, the dried meat of the coconut, fetched then very high prices of up to twelve Guilders a picol (62 kilograms). Moreover the demand for  birds of paradise was so high that many young Papuans left their villages to hunt for them. In the 1930s the world economic crisis led to a decline in demand. The price of copra fell down to only two Guilders a picol. The crisis led to financial difficulties for the mission. The mission then changed its policy of working with salaried local staff. It  decided to work with local Papuans, working as evangelists (“penginjil”), who were given only a minimum of training. They were given extensive responsibilities for the evangelisation work. They received a small allowance, but not a regular salary. The village where they settled had to provide for their livelihood. The evangelists would have their own gardens and take part in hunting. The advantage was that the Gospel was preached in the local Papuan language instead of Malay. The evangelists were taken up in the tribe and lived among the people. By the early 1930s the UZV had extended the area where it worked till the Humboldt Bay. By 1934 the mission counted more than 50,000 Christians, most of them in North New Guinea.

 

 

 

 

Mission

Missionaries

Wives

Pastors[6]

Teachers

Christians

Schools

Pupils

Hospitals – Beds

New Guinea

Indische Kerk

  1

  1

 

 

 

 

 

 

North NG

UZV

12

12

42

153

45,384

131

7,397

1- 30

West NG

UZV

  3

  2

16

  16

  5,869

  26

1,253

Total  for 1934

 

16

15

58

169

51,253

157

8,640

1- 30

 

Table I: The UZV and the “Indische Kerk” in 1934

 

When J. van Hasselt retired in 1932, after serving 38 years in New Guinea he complained that, increasingly, he had to fight on a front, that he did not like, “I mean the Roman infiltration and penetration.”  Rivalry and conflicts between the Protestant mission and the Roman Catholic mission that did not recognize a separation of mission areas was till the 1950s a common pattern in West Papua. The UZV expanded in this period its educational system. The gurus often had the dual role of teaching during weekdays the school children and leading the church service on Sundays. There were from the 1930s about 30 “classes” (presbyteries) and twelve “resorts”. Between 1924 and 1942 the number of village schools with a three years’ program increased from 71 to 300. The number of congregations was the same. Areas were opened by sending an evangelist or guru, who opened a village school and at the same time a candidate congregation or a congregation. In 1937 the schools had about 10,000 pupils.  There was one upper primary school (grades 4 and 5) with 50 pupils and one vocational school with nine students. For more advanced education the most promising pupils were sent to Java. The GPM created two presbyteries in the South, the South Papua presbytery covering the Merauke area and the West Papua presbytery covering the areas of Mimika and Merauke. By 1937 there were 76 congregations in North and West New Guinea, but only three in South New Guinea where the Catholics dominated.

Medical work was limited. The missionaries provided elementary medical care from their mission posts. Serui had a mission hospital with a trained nurse in 1910, but closed in 1914. Only in 1932 a doctor was sent to the hospital in Serui on Yapen Island in the Cenderawasih Bay. Korido in Western Biak had a smaller hospital. Since 1936 there was also a hospital looking after leprosy patients.

 

c. The Roman Catholic Mission, 1902-1942

Roman Catholics had been discriminated against in the Dutch East Indies. In the VOC period Catholic mission were seen as linked with Portuguese claims to East Indonesia and Catholic mission was forbidden outside the island of Flores. The situation changed in 1854, when the government recognized the Roman Catholic Church in Holland and allowed it to re-establish its Episcopal hierarchy in the Netherlands. In the same year the Apostolic Vicariate of Batavia, which included the whole of the Dutch East Indies, got Mgr. Jac. Grooff as its new bishop. Roman Catholic mission work in New Guinea began in 1894 when the Jesuit Cornelis le Cocq d’Armandville came from Seram to Fak-Fak, where he baptized 73 people after staying there for only ten days. He established in 1895 a mission station in Kapaur, Ayer Besar, east of Fak-Fak, with a school with the protestant Chr. Pelletimu as a teacher. The station was closed after the sudden death of Le Cocq the following year. All mission work needed the permission of the government. New Guinea was divided into spheres of demarcation. The Governor General did not allow the Catholics to establish themselves in Fak-Fak, Inanwatan and in Berau, as this was “protestant area”. This decision was based on article 123 of the Governmental Regulations (Regeringsreglement, since 1925 Article 177 of the Indies’ Government Regulations or Indische Staatsregeling), which stipulated that the establishment of mission posts needed the permission by the Governor-General. In 1912 a separation line had been drawn to separate the Roman Catholic and the Protestant missions. The Catholics were not allowed North of the 4 degrees 30 seconds SB meridian. They considered the rule as unfair and continued to claim Fak-Fak and parts of the Bird’s Head, based on the visits by Le Cocq between 1894 and 1896. They referred to an agreement between the Netherlands and the Holy See of 1848 that gave the Catholics the right to move freely in Ambon and other places of the Moluccas.

 

In 1902 the Catholics established the Vicariate of  Netherlands New Guinea, separated from the Apostolic Vicariate of Batavia, with Mgr. Dr. Matthias Neijens as Apostolic Prefect, who was based in Langgur on the Kei Islands. It included, apart from South and West New Guinea, Biak and Numfor, the Kei Islands, the Tanimbar Islands, Banda, Saparua, Seram, Halmahera and other islands of the Moluccas. The Jesuits had worked for 14 years with success on the Kei Islands. The Kei remained an important source for teachers-catechists (gurus). The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (MSC) based in Tilburg, the Netherlands, provided the pioneer missionaries for the Southern part of Dutch New Guinea. In 1905 the MSC Brothers Melchior Oomen and Dion. van Roessel and the Fathers H. Nollen and Phil. Braun came to Merauke. Br. Oomen died the next year, while van Roessel and Braun left Merauke for Kei in 1906. Fr. Nollen also left for the more promising Kei in 1909. Fr. Vertenten served the longest in the area. From 1910 to1915 he served in Okaba, which is situated 60 km west of Merauke, and from 1915 to 1925 in Merauke.

 

At the constant pressure of the mission the government began action against headhunting. In 1907 the Marind-anim had been punished by the Government for head hunting, but this was not effective as they again made head hunting raids on a large scale in 1911. In 1913 the Government took stern action against head hunting, acts of revenge, burying people alive and infanticide. In the same year Fr Jos van de Kolk developed the idea of a model kampung (village) in Okaba. In 1914 Merauke got its model kampung. The aim of this idea was to enforce a radical change of life of the Marind-anim in order to save them from extinction by the venereal granuloma. Fertility rituals like the otiv bombari which implied sexual promiscuity were forbidden by the government as well as by the mission. This venereal disease had only recently been introduced, most likely by Australian workers who helped building the Merauke government station and who had casual sexual relations with Marind anim women. It was traditional that many male members of the husband’s clan after the marriage had the duty to have intercourse with the bride on the first night. This led to infertility due to a rupture of the uterus. Life in the model kampong, which could be easily controlled by the mission, would make these practices more difficult to do. In 1914 World War I broke out. This made the funding of the mission more difficult and as a consequence all mission stations were closed except Merauke, where Fr. Petr. Vertenten and Brothers. J. Joosten and H. van Santvoort stayed.

 

The post-war Spanish influenza pandemic of 1919 proved another disaster for the people of the South Coast of New Guinea. Almost one in five people died because of it. Soon after this disaster Fr Vertenten began an active publicity campaign to press for an active and intensive interference of the government in the life of the Marind-anim in order to prevent the total extinction of the tribe. The Government gave in and began to support the establishing of “model villages” by the mission and the building of mission schools. The young Marind-anim were completely taken out of their natural environment and raised under strict mission control in boarding schools. Here they were, initially, forced to wear Western clothes. The German anthropologist Paul Wirz strongly criticized the policy of the mission as it could only be implemented by using considerable violence. In 1922 and 1923 the mission posts of Okaba and Wendu were re-established, while a new post at Wambi was established. In 1926 the mission opened the Mimika area from Lunggu.. In the same year the Government established a post in Kokonao. The Catholics established a mission post there the next year. In 1929 the mission established itself in Fak-Fak. This move led to a serious conflict with the Protestant mission. According to the Catholics Sakertemin, a village near Fak-Fak, had asked the mission permission to become Catholic, on the basis of the visit of Le Cocq almost three decades earlier. Action by Roman Catholic politicians in Holland, informed by the mission about the issue, led in principle to the abolition of the separation line to prevent “dubbele zending.”  At a Conference in Ambon between UZV and the RC Mission the Governor of the Moluccas, however, still objected to the Catholics moving to the Bird’s Head, Waropen and the area around Hollandia (Jayapura) for security reasons. The Protestant mission consul, based in Batavia was also present at the meeting. He argued that if the Catholics would move into Protestant areas the Protestants would have the right to move into the Catholic area of South New Guinea. Not much later a teacher from the Protestant Church of the Moluccas (Gereja Protestan Maluku, hence the GPM), arrived in Kokonao, where the Catholics had just opened a station. This led to a strong competition in the building of schools. Finally, in 1928 Fr Cappers got permission to move to West New Guinea, with the exception of the Bird’s Head. By that time the UZV had already seven schools in the Fak-Fak area. In that year the MSC got help from the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (FDNSC), an order like the MSC established by the French father Jules Chevalier, based in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Two years later the UZV handed its mission work around Fak-Fak, Kaimana and the Arguni Bay over to the GPM. In 1931 there was a conflict in the Bintuni Bay, where a Roman Catholic teacher was removed by police after working there for five months. In 1932, at the educational Conference at Tual, the Protestants proposed that the GPM would leave Merauke if the Roman Catholics would be prepared to leave the Bird’s Head. This was unacceptable for Bishop Aerts.  But Bishop Aerts promised that the catholic mission would not enter an area in which the protestants were already intensively working.

 

In 1936 the Roman Catholic Mission got the right from the Governor-General to establish missions anywhere. The next year the Catholics established their first school in the Bird’s Head in Manehui. In the same year 1937 the Dutch Franciscans entered the mission in New Guinea. Five Franciscans priests and one brother established themselves in Fak Fak, Babo, Ternate and Manokwari. Fak Fak had then 700 baptized members and fifteen schools. Babo is the place where the New Guinea Oil Company (NG Petroleum Maatschappij) found oil. It built houses, offices, a hospital and a laboratory. The company employed one hundred people from Kei, who had their own resident priest. From Babo he served eight villages. In 1937 the GPM had to withdraw from Mimika because of  a shortage of funds.

 

In 1938 the commander of the field police, J. P. K. van Eechoud, one of the few Roman Catholic civil servants, organized a government expedition to Paniai, which Fr. Tillemans  joined, because Fr. Tillemans had been a member of the original party of Bijlmer, the first expedition into the Highlands. On the basis of this visit the Catholics claimed the Me area and the area of the Moni. (Dit is onjuist: ongeveer tegelijkertijd met de missie kwam ook de CAMA isn dit gebied. Na overleg met  V. de Bruyn werd besloten tot een voorlopige verdeling te komen. Zie o.a. De Bruyn, Het verdwenen volk. In 1940 the Franciscans established a mission school in Arso, east of Jayapura, with Otto Suarabun as a teacher. 50 Children went to school there. The area had been opened by the government in  May 1939. In 1942 the first school children were baptized there.

By 1940 the mission had in South New Guinea Merauke and five other stations, 16 sub-stations, eight churches, 30 elementary schools and a Papuan community of about 2,800. In West New Guinea and Mimika there were then two hospitals, two dispensaries, 173 schools and 10 other institutions serving about 1,600 Catholics.

 

5. The War and post war development: 1942-1962.

a. Introduction

In May 1940 the German armies occupied the Netherlands. This led to the disruption of the communication with the mission headquarters. In April 1942 the Japanese landed in New Guinea and soon conquered most of it, except Merauke and Boven-Digul. In May 1943 the Japanese occupied the area of Paniai, where Dr. J. V. de Bruyn still had continued his work as “controleur” (district officer). All European missionaries and other Europeans, except those with German nationality, were interned and forcibly moved to POW camps in East Indonesia. The Japanese executed on 30 July 1942 15 missionaries of the Sacred Heart in Langgur, Kei, including the Vicar Apostolic Bishop Johannes Aerts. Earlier Fr. A. Guikers OFM was executed in Ransiki near Manokwari. The missionaries in Merauke Regency, which was never occupied, just continued to do their work.

 

The church had now to stand on its own and it, increasingly, became self sufficient. The Japanese occupation led to hardships for the Papuans as they were forced to work to build air fields and roads without compensation. The Japanese dealt harshly with any opposition or perceived opposition. Angganita Menufandu led a salvation movement on the North Coast. She had appointed herself as Queen of New Guinea and had also an army. She was arrested and beheaded by the Japanese in 1942. The Simson movement, led by Somlena from Tablanusa in the Depapre area West of present day Jayapura had some Christian elements, but it practiced communication with the spirits of the deceased on graveyards. This movement was equally harshly repressed. Its leader was arrested and probably executed by the Japanese in Jayapura. Gurus were sometimes forced to join the Japanese police. The Japanese language replaced Dutch at the schools.

 

In April 1944 the Americans landed at Jayapura (Hollandia). From September 1944 to March 1945 General Douglas MacArthur had his headquarters for the New Guinea and the Philippines campaign in Hollandia at Ifar Gunung. By July 1944 the Japanese were defeated in New Guinea after several fierce battles. Under the aegis of the Allied command the Dutch government returned to New Guinea as NICA (Netherlands Indies Civil Administration) with its headquarters in Kampung Harapan (Kota Nica) halfway between Sentani and Abepura. Most of Indonesia remained occupied by the Japanese until 15 August 1945. The Dutch government was not able to return there until the beginning of 1946.

 

The Government had not been very active to develop West Papua and the Papuans. In 1947 Netherlands New Guinea became a residency, separated from Ternate (the North) and from Ambon (the South). After the handing over of the sovereignty of Indonesia to the Federal Republic of Indonesia (RIS) in December 1949 New Guinea was left outside the Indonesian Republic. The Dutch Government now began in earnest to develop the area and to assist with the advancement of the Papuans, considering itself the mandatory power of the United Nations. The Papuans were being prepared for self determination. Missions received large grants in aid to set up an educational system and to initiate medical work. Hundreds of teachers and medical staff were recruited in the Netherlands. From 1938 onwards West Papua had known a so called “civilization school” (“beschavingsschool”). The aim was “to civilize” the Papuans with subjects like order and hygiene, playing, flute playing, singing, the preparation of parties, dancing, school gardens, basket weaving and  the Three Rs. From 1945 onwards “people’s schools” (Volksscholen) were founded with a more academic curriculum of Malay, reading, drawing, reading, writing, singing, flute playing and handicraft. After seven?? years Volksschool (? Ik dacht dat officieel de Volksschool drie jaar duurde, waarna de VVS kon volgen. Dat levered tesamen het niveau van de lagere school, althans dat was de bedoeling)the best pupils could continue to a Vervolgschool, hence VVS, which provided in a three years course basic secondary(??) education. The Protestants were at an advantage as they had more and better schools. , so more of their pupils could continue to further education. At the VVS a Papuan elite was being formed. Here Papuans were selected for further studies to become teacher, police officer or government official, and also those Papuans were trained, who later represented the Territory at international conferences like those of the South Pacific. In the 1950s there was a strong effort by the Catholics to catch up with the Protestants in the area of education.

 

b. The Reformed Mission and the GKI

In the post war period in the Reformed Mission devolution took place, with more and more responsibilities being handed over to the Papuans. In 1954 a  theological school was established in Serui on Yapen Island by Rev. Isaac Kijne to train Papuans as ministers. In 1956 the Evangelical Christian Church (Gereja Kristen Injili di Nederlandsch Nieuw Guinea, GKI) was inaugurated, to become independent of mission control. The mission of the Dutch Mennonite Mission Association (Doopsgezinde Zendingsvereniging, DZV), active in the Bird’s Head peninsula also joined the new church. It was symptomatic that at the inauguration of the new church only the Moluccan Church (GPM) recognized the new GKI. The Roman Catholic Church recognized it later, but the other Reformed and the Evangelical missions did not recognize the GKI. This means that they would not object to do mission work among GKI adherents. The conservative Reformed missions considered the GKI “not faithful to the Bible.” The Evangelical missions considered the GKI in fact pagan or at most syncretistic. Both type of missions were very anti-Catholic.

 

Between 1956 and 1962 the relations between the Netherlands and Indonesia heated up on the issue of New Guinea, which Indonesia claimed as Indonesian territory. The Dutch Mission of the Netherlands Reformed Church (ZNHK or “Oegstgeest”), the post war successor of the UZV, was ambivalent on the issue. By and large it supported the Indonesian claim to New Guinea as the mission still had interests in Indonesia. Moreover, some leading Dutch theologians with an Indonesian work experience, like Johannes Verkuyl (Salatiga), Hendrick Kraemer and Henk Visch (Bali), strongly identified with the nationalist case of the Republic of Indonesia, which claimed West Papua in order “to finish the revolution.”  Their views were strongly opposed by most of the Papuans and by the Dutch missionaries and teachers working in New Guinea. They supported the Dutch government in its effort to grant, in the long run, independence to the Papuans, separate from the Republic. When the Indonesian economy began to decline in the mid 1950s and when in 1957 Soekarno proclaimed Indonesia as a “guided” democracy, had himself appointed himself as a president “for life” and the army began to play a more prominent political role it became even less attractive for the Papuans to join the Indonesian Republic.

 

In the GKI there was only a small, but vocal minority that was pro-Indonesian. It came from Serui where Dr. Sam Ratulangi, a medical doctor and Indonesian freedom fighter from the Minahasa, had spent his banishment from 1946 to 1948. Here he could easily influence many future leaders of the Papuans, as Serui was an educational centre. Only later, when it seemed inevitable, the GKI under Rev. Rumainum, the first chairman of Synod, began to support the “integration” of West New Guinea into the Unitary Indonesian Republic. However, a leading missionary like Dr Freerk Kamma, gave up his position as a missionary in April 1961 to join full time the New Guinea Council, the forerunner of a Papuan parliament. Kamma represented the inhabitants of the eastern Highlands. Izaak Samuel Kijne, the Dutch educationalist, had written a number of school books, where the Papuan identity was stressed, like “Itu Dia”. His reading book “Kota Mas” (the Golden City) became very popular, as it linked up a Christian story with elements of  basic myths of the Papuans. Kijne also composed “Hai Tanahku Papua” (Oh My Land Papua), what became the Papuan national anthem in 1961, published in the booklet “Seruling Mas” (the Golden Flute).

 

 

 

               “Ressort”

Presbyteries

Congregations

          

 Candidate congregations

 

 

Members

Ministers

Guru Jemaat

 

Evangelists

  1. Hollandia-Nimboran

4

100

25

24,000

8

100

23

  1. Sarmi

3

37

18

5,663

4

35

18

  1. Yapen-Waropen

5

70

20

26,000

6

110

20

  1. Biak-Numfor

6

122

34,000

8

130

  1. Manokwari

6

56

29

5,436

3

60

30

  1. Miei-Nabire

5

60

10,000

2

56

  1. Sorong-Bintuni

14

60

70

17,000

4

100

70

  1. Teminabuan

2

55

20

2,655

3

50

20

  1. Inanwatan

2

12

5

3,655

2

17

5

  1. Dutch speaking presbytery

1

8

3,000

8

              Total

45

580

187

131,409

48

658

186

 

Table III: The GKI when founded in 1956

 

c. The Catholic Mission, 1942-1962

Most of the colonial civil servants were Protestant. Roman Catholics felt at times that they were treated in an unfair way. When the Catholic Jan van Eechoud became Resident (Governor) in 1947, the Protestants accused him of favouring the Catholics by allowing them to move into the Baliem valley.Dit is onjuist: Alle missionarissen werd verboden om de Baliemvallei te betreden. Fr. Kammerer, die vanuit Paniai probeerde de Baliem te bereiken. is niet verder geweest dan de grens. Pas nadat eerst de CAMA in 1954, en daarna het bestuur in 1956 waren gevestigd in de Baliem kwam de katholieke missie in 1957. There were again Protestant protests when in 1951 the Catholics established a higher secondary school (Hogere Burgerschool, HBS) in Jayapura, the first of that kind in the Territory. Many considered this form of education too advanced for the Papuans. In 1957 this school became a joint Roman Catholic and Protestant venture.

 

In Sorong where the oil had brought many migrants, among whom were Catholics, the mission opened a primary boarding school and a lower secondary school. In 1948 the Mission Sisters of  the Precious Blood, also called the Sisters of  Tienray, the Netherlands, went to Sorong and Fak-Fak to help in opening boarding schools for girls there. The next year the mission went to Sausopor, though several villages had already a Protestant church there. In 1949 the Franciscan mission was separated from the Vicariate of New Guinea to form the Apostolic Prefecture Hollandia with Fr. A. Cremers as Apostolic Prefect. Ternate and Halmahera became part of the new Vicariate Apostolic of Amboina. In 1950 the Vicariate Merauke was separated from the Vicariate of Amboina. The Vicariate of Merauke, with Fr. H. Tillemans as Apostolic Vicar, served South New Guinea, while the Vicariate of Holandia served North and West New Guinea, which included the Bird’s Head. By 1952 there were priests in Enarotali, Waghete, the Kamu plains, Mappi and Epouto on the Tage Lake, where the Sisters of the Franciscan Third Order, a lay institute, from Brummen, the Netherlands, established a boarding school for girls. Catechists from Mimika and Paniai assisted in this mission work.  In 1953 the Vicariate of Jayapura had 39 Franciscan Friars. There were 102 Catholic village schools, with 130 teachers and 3,500 pupils. Three quarters of the schools received government grants in aid. There was a General Primary School that used Dutch as medium of instruction. Sorong and Fak-Fak had also such an “Algemene Lagere School” with 400 pupils. In that year five Sisters from Heerlen came to work in Enarotali, Biak(??Daar zijn in die tijd nooit zusters geweest. De zusters van Heerlen zijn begonnen in Kokonao, en later naar Enarotali gekomen. Rond 1960 is er een zuster naar Biak gekomen, en nog later, 1968 in Jayapura. Daar waren toen al zusters van Bennebroek ) and Jayapura. The same year the Augustinian fathers began work in an area South of Jayapura.(De augustijner paters werkten samen met de franciscanen.In 1957 namen zij de zorg voor de Vogelkop over van de franciscanen. Later werd dit het bisdom Manokwari/Sorong) In 1958 the Catholics opened a lower secondary school (Primaire Middelbare School, hence PMS) in Hollandia, which had already a Protestant PMS.

 

In 1956 the Dutch order of the Brothers of Our Lady of the Seven Dolours or “Broeders van Voorhout” (hence CSD) established itself in Kepi and in the Mappi area. The brothers introduced a regional project with an agricultural centre in Mappi. This Welfare Plan Mappi and the Regional Plan, which encouraged the cultivation of cocoa and rubber, were joint ventures of the mission and the government. Efforts were made at contextualisation of the Gospel. There was a collective planting day, which was a religious festival with a Eucharist in the gardens, the blessing of oil palm nuts and coconuts, the receiving of guests and singing and dancing. The Yah’ray (or Yaqay), however, refused to take part in the project as in their opinion it only benefited the mission and the government.  In 1957 the Brothers established a Vervolgschool in Muyu.

 

In 1958 the Dutch MSC handed over the area of Asmat to the Crosier Fathers and Brothers (the Canons Regular of the Order of the Holy Cross) from America. In 1969 the Asmat Mission became the Diocese of Agats with Alphonsus Sowada OSC as its first bishop. The Crosier Fathers concentrated on the preservation of the Asmat culture and the contextualisation of the Gospel. Without head hunting, which was forbidden by the Government, the traditional culture was doomed. The Mission encouraged woodcarving independent of headhunting. A museum of Asmat art was built in Agats and the marketing of the art promoted. This provided a livelihood and pride in their work to the artists and to the Asmat in general.

To the South of Waris the Franciscans opened two stations, one in Amgotro and another one in Ubrub in 1952-1954. Between 1957 and 1959 the Franciscan Mission in Paniai expanded its work into the Moni area in Kemandora and Dugiundora, among the Amungme in Tsingga, Nuemba, towards Ilaga, the Dani area of the Baliem Valley and towards Sibil in the Star Mountains. In this period the Catholic mission began to build its first airstrips. The Association Mission Aviation, AMA, was founded, which bought its first aircraft in 1958. In 1959 Manokwari became a Prefecture Apostolic with Dutch Augustinians in charge. Fr. Petrus van Diepen OSA was its first Apostolic Prefect. Ten fathers worked in five stations in Manokwari, Sorong, Ayawasi-Fuog, Tintum-Ases and Bintuni or Steenkool, which had replaced Babo as the main population centre in the Bintuni Gulf. The area had then 4,000 Catholics, half of them Papuans.

After the Second Vatican Council the Catholics became more open to co-operation with other churches in the area of human rights action, education and also ecumenism. For instance in 1969 the Roman Catholic Church and the GKI made an agreement of mutual recognition of the sacrament of baptism.

 

c. The Evangelical and conservative Protestant missions

The Christian and Missionary Alliance (CAMA) from America began work in Paniai already in 1939, when it established a post in Enarotali. In August 1942 it had its first conversion of 16 Mee people. In May 1943 the Americans Walter Post, Einar Mickelson and the Mee Christian Zakheus Pakage, one of the early converts, were airlifted out of the Paniai region to Australia, just before the Japanese entered the area. The Japanese destroyed mission property and church buildings. In 1947 the first Mee were baptized. In 1952 the first Me left the Bible school to be ordained as ministers (pendetas). In 1954 CAMA began work in the Baliem Valley among the Dani, where it used its own water plane to enter the area, inaccessible by land road. In 1956 CAMA moved to the Ilaga Valley and to the Beoga valley to work among the Moni and Damai people. In 1962 130 Danis were baptized in the station at Pyramid.

 

In this period we see the emergence and of several messianistic or salvation movements. The concept “cargo cults” explains in an unsatisfactory way the interaction between traditional religious attitudes and Christianity. In a way these new religious movements form a specific Papuan response to the message of the Gospel. These movements may promise immediate and concrete rewards of conversion. However, the churches are doing something similar, enticing Papuans with small gifts, like tobacco and betel nuts. The Papuans get education and health services only through the mission. They can get paid jobs and new responsibilities and positions of authority. Through the church they get the opportunity to travel and meet other people and meet marriage partners outside their own clan and/or language group. These are all concrete benefits of conversion. During the period under review we see numerous religious movements which emerge inside and outside the established churches. Some of these movements are a form of protest, while others try to re-establish a group or tribal identity. This is the case of the Wege Bage movement, established by Zakheus Pakage, in the Paniai area.

 

Zakheus Pakage had studied for the ministry in Makassar from 1946 to 1950 sponsored by the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CAMA), which is active in the Paniai area. On his return to Paniai the people of Tigi, in the southern part of the Paniai regency, asked CAMA to send Zakheus to teach them, though this area was given exclusively to the Catholics in 1939. Zakheus drew there great crowds of people. It led to a great revival and to fetish burnings. In 1951 he began, however, to experience opposition from those people who had accepted Catholicism, especially from the headmen who felt their position threatened.  In that year tribal wars took place. According to some people it was the Catholics who started spreading false rumours about Zakheus, as he was working with success in “their” area. He was several times arrested accused of stirring up people against the government. In October 1951 Zakheus was arrested accused of instructing his brother Jordan Pakage to burn houses and to kill pigs. Much of the local opposition came from Weakebo, a leader of the Mote clan, a rival clan of the Pakage clan of Zakheus. In 1951 Zakheus began to ask his followers to make a complete break with their non-Christian past by moving to separate villages, the so called Wege Bage communities. Wege Bage is a nickname given to the Zakheus communities as it means “the disruptors of peace and order”, “those who bring chaos.” In 1952, after a conflict with CAMA missionaries Zakheus was declared mentally ill. He was taken to the mental hospital in Abepura. Only in 1958 he could return to Paniai, but sent back to Sentani in 1963. He died there in 1970. Though Zakheus had passed away, the movement still exists and it is growing. It sees itself as the national church of the Me people of Paniai. The Wege Bage try to reconcile their traditional Me religion with the Gospel. In their idea God already existed before Christianity came to Paniai. The teachings of Zakheus are seen as the lost Bible of the Me. Zakheus is Koyeidaba, the Me Messiah, who has returned. There is, basically, in their view no difference between Me traditional religion and Christianity. [7]

 

Conversion to Christianity (as led by the CAMA) in the Highlands took often place in the form of mass conversions, going together with an apparent complete break with traditional religion, as amulets, holy stones, masks and other sacred objects were destroyed. Missionaries had an ambivalent attitude towards this phenomenon. Was this really inspired by the Holy Spirit? What could have been the motivations for conversion even before the most elementary principles of Christian doctrine had been taught? The type of conversion shows similarities with that of the “koreri” and independent church movements mentioned above. Conversion can be related to elements in the social structure of traditional society. In Paniai conversion was the result of a strategy by local Big Men to settle their conflicts with Big Men of rival clans. For instance the conversion of Weakebo, a Big Man of the Mote clan was in the context of a rivalry with the Pakage clan about land use in the Tigi district. In the same way particular clans choose to join the Roman Catholic Church, the independent Wege Bage movement or the Evangelical Tabernacle Church (Gereja Kemah Injili di Indonesia, hence GKII). In one such move one Big Man could have many of his sons trained as a minister or a teacher and his daughters getting married to ministers. In this way he could, through the mission and the church, enormously increase his power of patronage. (In the areas where the catholic missionaries worked there was never mentioning of a mass conversion movement, except at the Amungmè. And even there, it went in a very orderly way, without much burning of fetish). As far as I know, it  occurred only at the Western Dani. See Douglas Hayward, The Dani before and after conversion)

 

6. Confrontation, appeasement and Freedom: 1962 to 2004

Under strong political pressure of the Kennedy administration, the Dutch government concluded the New York Agreement in August 1962, when it was on the brink of war with Indonesia, which had mobilized all its troops. Papuans did not participate in this agreement. The Dutch handed over the administration of the territory by 1 October of that year to the United Nations. The UN, in turn, handed its administration to Indonesia on 1 May 1963. Not later then 1969 the Papuans would get an opportunity to express their opinion about the integration with Indonesia in a UN supervised “Act of Free Choice”.

 

a. Adaptation to Indonesian rule

From the very beginning in October 1962 the Indonesian army behaved more like an army of occupation than like one that had liberated the Papuans from an oppressive colonial power. The army claimed the land and its people by right of conquest. It tried to wipe out completely any traces of the Dutch presence in government and education. All schools had to destroy their textbooks in Dutch. From one day to the other teaching and examinations had to change from Dutch to Malay (Indonesian or Bahasa Indonesia). All textbooks of the Dutch period were replaced by those used in the rest of Indonesia, though the stories were in no way appropriate to the culture and scenery of New Guinea. Papuan children had to learn about a Javanese boy named Ahmed and about volcanoes, trains and railways stations. The educated Papuans in church, the educational system, commerce and government were suspected of being pro-Dutch and, by implication, anti-Indonesian. In the security approach of the Indonesian army this meant that these were people declared to be the “enemies.” In December 1962 there was a night raid on the dormitories of the Teacher Training College, the Civil Servants school (“Bestuursschool”), the Agricultural College and the Christian schools in Kota Raja in Jayapura, led by Indonesian soldiers, using pro-Indonesian groups. Students were beaten up and then transported to the military camp at Ifar Gunung, where they were imprisoned.  A considerable group of respected Papuans ended up in prison or were killed. Among them were Eliezer Jan Bonay, the first governor of Irian Barat (Irian Jaya, West Papua), Rev. G. A. Lanta, the former vice-chairman of the Synod of the GKI, Rev. Silas Chaay, secretary of the GKI, Rev. Osok of the Moi tribe of the Bird’s Head, Saul Hindom, who had studied in Utrecht and was the leader of Shell in Biak, Hank Yoka, the former secretary of the New Guinea Council, Alfeus Yoku, a leader from Sentani and David Hanasbey, inspector of police in Jayapura. Permenas Yoku, a teacher in Sentani, was killed at the end of 1963, because he refused to sign a pro-Indonesian declaration[8] Johan Ariks, former chairman of the Papua delegation at the Round Table Conference in 1949, died, at the age of 70, in Manokwari prison, after a speech he held on 1 July 1965, which was considered  to be anti-Indonesian. It was a policy of the intelligence department to eliminate in a secret way anybody suspected of having links with people who wanted to overthrow the Indonesian Government.[9] According to conservative estimates about 100,000 Papuans have been killed by the Indonesian army and police since 1962.

 

Dutch missionaries and teachers were allowed to stay. However, almost all Dutch Protestant missionaries and teachers left before the end of 1962. This meant a considerable loss. In 1956 of the 31 ministers still 13 were Dutch missionaries. In 1961 there were still 137 Dutch teachers, while the theological college had four Dutch lecturers. Rev. Tjakraatmadja from West Java was sent and supported by the mission to teach in the college. The Dutch speaking presbytery of the GKI was abolished at the emergency meeting of Synod in 1962. The Dutch Franciscans, the Augustinians, the Crosier Fathers and Brothers, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and the Dutch Sisters stayed. All bishops and the archbishop were then Dutch. Most Dutch Catholic missionaries later opted for Indonesian citizenship when it was offered. The first Papuan bishop, Mgr. John Philip Saklil from Kampung Umar, Kokonao, West Timika, Mimika Regency was consecrated bishop of the new diocese of Timika, separated from the diocese of Jayapura, in April 2004. 

 

The churches had to adapt to work under an Indonesian government which had clear Moslem sympathies in the way it spend government grants to religions. 80 % of the government grants to religions went to the Moslems, though in West Papua they were only a tiny minority. The transmigration program of the government led to an influx of Moslems, who occupied the senior posts in government and administration. There is also the iron-fisted approach of the army and police (ABRI) towards any, even innocent, opposition to Indonesian rules and regulations. Any feeling of a separate identity, like “Papuaness”, was discouraged or even punished. Arnold Ap, director of the Museum of Anthropology of the Cenderawasih University, introduced Papua hymns in Christian worship. He was accused of introducing war songs in order to lead the GKI against the Indonesian army. He was killed by the Indonesian army, on 26 April 1984 together with Eddie Mofu, his fellow musician of the group Mambesak.[10] Another Papuan intellectual and leader, Thomas Wanggai, died in 1996 in a Javanese prison, after being convicted to life imprisonment for raising a home made flag of the fictitious “Republic of Western Melanesia”. Theys Eluay, chairperson of the Presidium of the Papua Council (PDP), who used Christian metaphors in his peaceful struggle for Papuan freedom, was killed in November 2001 by Kopassus soldiers.

 

The police and army kept a close watch on the leadership of the Church. Not even the slightest criticism on the conduct of the Indonesian army was acceptable. When the Synod complained in 1963 that the Indonesian army took away almost everything, even empty bottles, to Java, the synod council was strongly reprimanded and accused of anti-Indonesian activities. Critical voices from the Roman Catholic Church were also silenced. Fr. Haripranoto Haripranata SJ, for instance, had to leave West-Papua in 1970.b. The GKI

The GKI, the largest church, was in fact more or less the “established” church in the Dutch period. Many of the Dutch government officers were members, while most of the Papuan civil servants and police were also members. Now the GKI had to develop a theology of adaptation and collaboration to survive. The fifth synod meeting of 1968 in Jayapura was crucial as Indonesia wanted to collect support for the Act of Free Choice[11] in 1969, which at all costs had to go in favour of Indonesia. Rev. Tjakraatmadja, said at the opening that everybody is collected in Christ, (Col. 3, 11) because Jesus Christ has died for everybody. Christ has endured the free choice, which is the cross of Golgotha. In that he was already the implementer of the “act of free choice” for the salvation of all people who have faith. That the Church obeys and accepts the government is based on Romans 13. Illuminated by the Word of God it rejects the idea that the voice of the people is the voice of God as satanic qualities have overpowered humankind.[12]  The implication seems to be that participation in the act of free choice will bring the cross, that is suffering, for the Papuan people. Rev. I. Mori was then the chairman of synod, succeeding Rev. F. J. S. Rumainum who had served more than eleven years as chairman. At this synod meeting the chairperson of the DGI, the Indonesian Christian Council, Lieutenant-general (ret.) T. B. Simatupang, explained the advantages of the Pancasila ideology as a way of protection of religious minorities. With this chairman, who was still considered to be one of the military, the conduct of the army in Irian Jaya since 1962 could not be discussed. Synod delegates who criticized the stand of Simatupang at the synod meeting got later a visit at home by soldiers, who threatened them as they had shown disrespect to a former army officer. The Military Commander of Irian Jaya-Maluku, present at the synod meeting, told the synod that the Dutch were to blame as it was their heritage that  the Papuans were afraid for the Indonesians by making them believe that the Indonesians would make the Papuans (1) poor, (2) communist and (3) expose them to islamisation! 

 

Within this context it is clear that the GKI at synod or diocesan level hardly had the possibility to criticize the government or the army. This is probably because in the official, compulsory ideology of Panca Sila the state, that is the government, is identified with society. Religion is viewed as a branch of government. All five recognized religions had to include respect to the Panca Sila as their basis (“azas”), notwithstanding the feeble protests of the Fellowship of the Indonesian Churches (Persekutuan Gereja-Gereja Indonesia, PGI) that they had already Jesus Christ as their basis. The only realistic way to survive was to support the Indonesian effort at integration of the Papuans with the risk of the loss of one’s identity. According to Hermann Saud, chairman of synod of the GKI, since 1996, Papuans as Christians, willingly, have to sacrifice their aspiration for independence, because their desire for independence legitimizes a military presence in West Papua, which in turn leads to the killing of Papuans. As a Christian we have to sacrifice in order to get life. The Church can not change the Indonesian reality that the Government has the people, and not, as in western countries, that the people have a government. The harsh reality is that Papuans are considered the property of Indonesia.[13] We see that church leaders, who for pragmatic reasons support the Indonesian government and army policy in West-Papua, are rewarded with appointments in government. Rev. Rumainum, synod chairman from 1956 till 1968, was a candidate for the governorship, at the time of his sudden death in January 1968. Rev. Maloali, synod chairman from 1971 till 1977, became Chairman of the provincial parliament for Golkar. Rev. J. Mamoribo became chairman of the provincial council and deputy governor. Rev D. Prawar became chairman of the council of the Sorong regency, while the Reverends. N. Apaserai, Z. Rumere, Lukas Sobarofek and F. Ondi became members of a council of a regency (kabupaten).  Rev. Wim Rumsarwir, synod chairman from 1988 to 1996, became member of the national parliament for Golkar at the elections of 1997. The ambivalence of these ministers turned politician is clear as Rev. Rumsarwir was also a member of the Team of 100, which demanded independence from Indonesia in February 1999. He was an active member in the committee that demanded a far-going form of autonomy from parliament in 2001, including control of the army and prosecution of human rights violations in West Papua.

At the activities in the context of the struggle for freedom, like the Musyawarah Besar (Mubes, the Great Debate) in 1999 and the Papua Congress in 2000, church ministers played an important role. In the present conditions it is, virtually, only ministers who can maintain more or less their independence as they are paid by the people, and not the government. The church, especially the GKI, gets involved in politics if it gets the chance. In October 1999 the GKI, encouraged by the new freedom of the “reformation” period after the fall of Soeharto, made a political statement when it rejected the division of the province of  Papua into three smaller provinces. The church claimed to speak on behalf of “the people of West Papua”. The statement was signed by Rev. Herman Awom as vice-chairman of synod.  At the parliamentary elections of 2004 as many as 80 candidates in West Papua were ministers. To maintain its distance from the state those elected are suspended from their office as a minister, though they do not loose the right to preach.  By 2002 the GKI claimed to have about 800,000 members in over one thousand congregations, served by 400 ministers. It had an annual budget of Rp 4 billion (€ 400,000), which makes it a fairly poor church in financial terms. The poor presbyteries in the interior get generous support from the few rich congregations, where a majority of members are migrants in the urban areas of Jayapura, Abepura, Sentani, Timika, Biak and Sorong.   

 

c. The Catholics 

The “re-integration” of West Papua in Indonesia in 1962 caused hardships for the Catholic Mission. There was a conflict about the Indonesian demand to hand over its schools to become government schools. The mission, with success, resisted an effort at the take-over of the Teacher Training College in Merauke. However, when Fr. J. Smit in Agats refused to handover his schools, he was executed on the spot, by Fimbay, the Indonesian district officer. In 1964 all missionaries had to go to Java, for what they called themselves an “indoctrination course.” They were taught there the official state ideology of Panca Sila. In 1963 Fak-Fak joined the Apostolic Prefecture of Manokwari. The Sisters from Tienray established clinics and a hospital in Senopi and Ayawassi. In 1969 a Catholic Academy for Theology (ATK) was established in Abepura with a four years course for pastoral workers and a seven years program for priests. In 1972 it had 38 students. In the same year six Indonesian Franciscan friars joined the Dutch. They began work in Wamena, together with two Papuan Franciscans. In that year two brothers from the Society for the Divine Word (SVD) from East Flores joined the mission to work in Merauke and in Manokwari. Javanese priests worked as a Director of the Roman Catholic Centre and as army chaplains. When the Dutch Franciscan Herman (Yanuarius) Munninghoff OFM became bishop of Jayapura, the diocese had 31,560 Roman Catholics of which 23,000 in Paniai, Mimika and Akimuga. The diocese of Manokwari had then 10,753 and the diocese of Merauke about 90,000 Catholics.

 

(Arch)diocese

(Arch)bishop-birthplace)

Catholics

 Population

%

Merauke

Nicolaus Adi Seputra MSC (Purwokerto, Java)

135,000

220,000

58

Jayapura

Leo Laba Ladjar OFM (Bauraja, Flores, NTT)

45,000

840,000

5

Manokwari/Sorong

Datus Lega  (Kupang, West Timor, NTT)

55,000

560,000

10

Agats

Aloysius Murwito OFM  (Sleman-Yogya, Java)

50,000

71,000

70

Timika

John Philip Saklil (Kokonao, Papua)

72,000

520,000

14

West Papua

 

357,000

2,568,000

14

           

Table III: The Roman Catholic Church in West Papua (2004 figures)

(source: http://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/diocese/djaya.html)

 

d. Other mission activity and the search for “unreached” tribes and peoples

In this period there is an increased activity by American, Australian and conservative protestant Dutch missions. These, generally speaking have a vertical view of salvation. One abstains from political involvement. They moved into areas not yet served by the Reformed and the Catholic missions. These were from America the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CAMA), the Regions Beyond Missionary Union (RBMU), The Missions Fellowship (TMF) and the Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM) and from Australia the Unevangelized Field Mission (UFM), the Australian Baptist Mission Society (ABMS) and the Asia Pacific Christian Mission (APCM). Many of these missions are strongly anti-Catholic, which led to several religious conflicts. TMF was established in 1963 as a form practical co-operation between CAMA, UFM, RBMU, ABMS and MAF, while ZGK, NRC and APCM became associate members. The Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) provided since 1954 air services for these missions to reach the remote places where they had started work. Without MAF the expansion of so many missions in very remote areas would not have been possible as often the air connection is virtually the only way to reach these places. MAF also established a radio network, connecting the various mission posts with each other and with the coast. By the 1980s it served 230 air strips of which 175 were visited regularly. It employed 14 pilots and technicians. The Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) entered West Papua in 1972 with the purpose to study Papua languages, help with literacy work, agricultural development and the translation of the Bible. SIL worked together with the state University Cenderawasih (Uncen) in Jayapura. It is active in 26 languages. In 1994 it employed 84 expatriate missionaries from America, South Korea, Germany and Holland. Half of these work as translators. 

 

In 1963 the CAMA congregations became independent of the CAMA mission to become the Tabernacle Gospel Christian Church Kemah Injil Gereja Masehi di  Indonesia  (KINGMI), later renamed to the Evangelical Tabernacle Church in Indonesia (Gereja Kemah Injili di Indonesia, hence GKII). The new church sent its own evangelists to the Wolani and Moni tribes. In 1964 the New Testament appeared in the Me language. In the 1970s, however, came the real breakthrough with mass conversions. In 1977 and 1978 there was a rising of the Dani in the Baliem. 50,000 Dani warriors, armed with spears and bows and arrows marched on to Wamena. They were met by Indonesian soldiers armed with machineguns. They pursued the Danis into the Western Dani area. Those who fled to the mountains and forests were machine gunned from the air using Bronco air planes. The Indonesian army also used traditional believers to attack Christian villages to suppress the rising. Thousands were killed in this rebellion. This was a traumatic experience with foreign intrusion into the ancient culture of the Baliem Valley.

 

 

baptized members

Papuan ministers

1961

8,319

82

1971

23,261

523

1988

59,382

1,200

1998

150,000

1,616

 

Table IV: The GKII, 1961-1998

 

The Australian UFM entered West Papua in 1950. It worked in Sengge and the Habifluri valley near Lake Archbold, where it established the Bokondini mission post in 1956. In 1962 it had its first baptism in Kelila. The American UFM established a mission post in Wolo in 1957. In 1966 it began work among the Ilukwa population and in 1968 among the Nggem. It established a hospital in Mulia, with a school for nurses. Here many mission posts were destroyed by people opposing Indonesian occupation. The RBMU started work in 1957 in Karubaga in the Swart Valley. In 1961 it worked in the eastern highlands in Ninia and Karopun and in the southern coastal area among the Yali of Seng (Yalimo area). In 1972 there were 21,000 converts, 100 congregations, over 30 missionaries and 176 Papuan church leaders. The UFM, the RBMU and the APCM worked closely together. They formed the Evangelical Church in Irian Jaya, the Gereja Injili di Irian Jaya, hence GIDI, in 1973. In 1998 the GIDI had 178,000 members, 364 churches and 1,144 ministers or evangelists.

The ABMS began mission work in 1956 in Tiom. From there it extended work to Magi in cooperation by local Papuans. Mission work included besides the bible school, literacy work, medical training and carpentry training. In 1976 the Baptist Church of Irian Jaya (Gereja Baptis Irian Jaya, hence GBIJ) became independent of the mission. In 1998 it had about 75,000 members, 110 posts and 86 Papuan teachers or ministers.   

 

The Mission of the Reformed Congregations in the Netherlands and North America (Zending der Gereformeerde Gemeenten in Nederland en Noord-Amerika, ZGG, also called the Netherlands Reformed Congregation, hence NRC) began work in Pass Valley or Abenaho in the Yali area with Rev. Gerrit Kuyt, a nurse and a teacher’s couple in 1962. In 1971 it extended work to Nipsan (1971). In 1973 the APCM transferred the Tri valley to the NRC. Jan Louwerse opened here the post Langda in the Una speaking area. The Una people in the Eastern Highlands had a sudden, conversion in the period 1973 to 1980, similar to that of the Danis in the Baliem in the same period. The Una people associated the European missionaries coming into the area as associated with the spirit world because of their pale skin. The newcomers who brought the Gospel used supernatural means of transport (a helicopter) and the tools, like steel exes, machetes and knives, the outsiders brought with them were perceived as superior. Finally, some authoritative Una people had dreamt that pale skinned people would come to them and do well. These factors played a role while there was at the same time a spiritual crisis. The first village to be converted was Langda. The people in this village were considered the underdogs in the war with the village of Loryi in the Northern Ei valley. The frequent earthquakes in that period may also have had an impact.[14] Out of this mission work the Protestant Congregation Church in Indonesia (Gereja Jemaat Protestan di Indonesia, hence GJPI) emerged. From 1986 the GJPI worked in the Momina area. In several of these areas conversion took place in the form of mass burnings of fetishes. 

 

Rev. Meeuwes Drost opened in 1958 on behalf of the Mission of the Reformed Churches (Zending van de Gereformeerde Kerken, hence ZGK) a mission post in Kouh in the Bomakia area of the Upper Digul River in the Merauke Regency. In 1968 20 adults and 7 children were baptized. In 1971 it started work among the Citak people on the river Ndeiran and among the Kombai on the Wanggemalo river. The ZGK also worked in South Digul where the Roman Catholic Mission is at work in Butiptiri, Kaisah, Getentri, Merauke and Semaligga. In 1972 a Central Bible School was established in Boma. In 1976 contacts were made with the Reformed Churches in East Sumba. Both established then the Reformed Churches in Indonesia (Gereja-Gereja Reformasi di Indonesia, GGRI). Since 1980 all the medical and educational work is done by the Foundation for the Building of Reformed Service or Yayasan Pembinaan Pelayanan Reformasi, YAPPER). In 1982 the first Papuan minister, Rev Rumi, was ordained. By 1984 there were 2,086 baptized members, 56 places of worship with Papuan teachers and two Papuan ministers.  In 1986 the first church elders were inaugurated in the congregation of Kouh

 

The GKI, encouraged by these mission activities and aided by the German Rheinische Missions Gesellschaft (RMG) began in 1960 mission work among the Dani of Kurima and Mugwi and under the Yali of Yalimo (Angguruk and Apahapsili).  Rev Siegfried Zöllner (German United Evangelical Mission, VEM) and medical doctor Wim Vriend (Dutch Netherlands Reformed Mission, ZNHK) acted as the pioneer missionaries here. The GKI had  established a congregation in Wamena, led by Rev. Zeth Rumere, to serve their members working there as policemen, army personnel and civil servants, immediately when Wamena had been established as a government post for the Baliem Valley in 1956. The congregation also served the Dani’s working in the town. These Dani became the evangelists for their fellow Dani’s in th Baliem valley. After 1968 Dani and Yali villages began to accept Christianity. Conversion was preceded in most cases by the ritual of the burning of their fetishes of traditional religion. The first baptism was in 1972 in the Yali village of  Angguruk and in 1974 in the Dani village of Polimo. By 2004 the presbytery of Balim-Yalimo was the largest of the GKI, with 30,000 members.

 

d. Independent churches and the development of a people’s theology

A number of independent church movements was active in this period. Most of these are small and only locally active. In Sorong lives Ambrosius Fatie who calls himself Tuan Jesus. He has 12 female disciples and about 50-100 followers. He is preaching West Papua as the place where the Garden of Eden used to be. The Papuans have a special place in God’s creation order. In West Yapen there is a congregation, which calls itself New GKI, which has associations with the koreri movement. By 2000 the woodcarver Micha Ronsumbre had started on Biak a church with the name koreri. There is a lot of prayers and singing by church choirs. Micha is a woodcarver, who carves korwar wood carvings to honour the ancestral spirits. These movements could be seen as a legitimate response of the Papuans just as the African Initiated Churches are now seen in this perspective. The Government was very rash to accuse these movements of political rebellion, separatism or treason. In April 2004 for instance Mathias Furima who has established himself as a prophet (“Jesus”) in the Bintuni area was shot by the police, accused of being a member of the Papuan Freedom Army (Tentara Papua Merdeka, TPM). Two of his female disciples were killed.

 

From the grassroots a true liberation theology developed. This is more a movement, without a particular structure than an organization. It is often described as aspiration for freedom movement, Gerakan Aspirasi Merdeka, or even only as Aspirasi “M”). Political events were interpreted using metaphors from the Bible. The Papuan people were identified with the people of Israel, in the Old Testament. As Israel had been for 40 years in the desert, so the Papuans had to be 40 years in the desert of the Indonesian occupation, before they would enter the Promised Land, that is get merdeka (freedom or independence). When a team of 100 went in February 1999 to President Habibie to demand independence, they were like Moses demanding freedom for Israel from pharaoh. Theys Eluay, the Chairman of the Presidium of the Papuan Council (PDP), who had worked for the Indonesians in the 1960s and 1970s to identify anti-Indonesian Papuans, and to realize a pro-Indonesian vote in the Act of Free Choice, was like Moses, who also first had worked for pharaoh, the enemy of Israel. The Papuans are compared with Jonah, who is swallowed by a big fish, which is Indonesia. In the end the fish will spit out Jonah. Jesus is seen as the King of the Papuans, who will deliver them from evil and bring them freedom. The Lord gives special blessings to the Papuans as they remain faithful Christians in a country with the majority Muslims. The Muslims are punished with a financial crisis, with disasters like earthquakes, forest fires and plane and boat accidents. At the protests at the funeral of Thomas Wanggay in the beginning of 1996, when the army did not allow students to carry his coffin from Abepura to Jayapura, the road was blocked by laying large stones in the form of crosses on the road. Students sang the hymn: “Onwards Christian Soldiers.” Many shops in the centre of Abepura and the pasar were burned. However, shopkeepers, who could show a copy of the Bible, were saved. 

 

With the fall of Soeharto on Ascension Day 1998 (“Yesus naik, Soeharto turun”, “The rise of Jesus, the fall of Soeharto” according to the Papuans) and the establishment of more democratic institutions and a greater freedom of opinion in the whole of Indonesia, the Church got more freedom, together with the challenge to give spiritual guidance to the Papuans in their movement for freedom. The churches were challenged to define a new role of leadership in society, relatively independent of the government and Golkar Party. The movement for freedom is called the movement for “aspirasi M”, the longing for “freedom”, merdeka. Papuans claim their right to exist and their right to freedom and independence. Real people’s theologies emerge. Papuans have a black skin, curly hair, they are Christians, and have a separate identity, separate from the “Indonesians”, who are called  “amber” or people with a “white” skin, straight hair, who practice the Moslem religion.

 

e. Religion, politics and human rights

Flag raising ceremonies with the forbidden Morning Star flag, introduced in 1961 for the new state of West Papua, started in Biak in July 1999. This was severely suppressed with numerous casualties. In December 1999, initiated by Theys Eluay, there were all over West Papua flag raising ceremonies, all peaceful, to celebrate the first flag raising of the Morning Star flag on 1 December 1961 and to remember the victims of Indonesian oppression. All of these ceremonies, including the later ones in the course of 2000 at Timika, Nabire, Sorong, Manokwari and Wamena, and other places were at the same time religious ceremonies, with prayers, hymn singing, and sermons. The ceremonies on 1 December 1999 were allowed, but from that time the army and the mobile brigade of the police began to suppress all these manifestations of the desire to be free, very severely. There were so many casualties each time the police or the army intervened that Papuans began to speak about “Bloody Biak”, “Bloody Nabire”, and “Bloody Timika” as each time there were human casualties when the army or the police tried to lower the Morning Star flag.

To establish peace and order and to prevent the outbreak of religious conflicts as in neighbouring Ambon in 1999 Theys Eluay introduced the idea of the Pos Komando Papua (Posko Papua). These Command Posts were distributed all over the province and manned by Papuan youth dressed in a black T shirt and black trousers, so called Satgas (Satuan Tugas or task force). These took effectively over the maintenance of law and order in the province, till December 2000 when they were forbidden by the police. Christian prayers and hymns were part of the rituals of the flag raising and of the activities of the Satgas Papua at the Poskos. 

 

When in 2001 Rev. Bennie Giay, lecturer at the Theological College Walter Post, and Br. Theo van den Broek OFM tried to mediate in the kidnapping of two Belgian travelers in the Star Mountains, they were received as representatives of the Tabernacle Church and the Roman Catholic Church. In an official ceremony the Papuans there gave them officially back the Gospel, symbolized by the Bible. In their opinion the Gospel had only brought them misery. With the Gospel also the Indonesian army and Freeport had entered and taken away their freedom. In their view these were one complex. They saw that the chairman of the Evangelical Tabernacle Church (GKII) got large sums of money as an advisor of Freeport Company. Freeport gave visiting missionaries money to convert the Papuans to make them acquiesce with Indonesian rule and to give up their resistance. By rejecting collaboration of the church they showed an exegesis of the Gospel consonant with that of liberation theology.

 

Already before the relatively greater freedom since 1998 the churches protested in a quiet and careful way against human rights violations taking place in West Papua. In April 1992 the Evangelical Christian Church (GKI) published a report, based on observations by church members, elders and ministers, of serious human rights violations. This so-called Blue Book, because of its cover, was handed to the Fellowship of Indonesian Churches (PGI) for inclusion in the assembly papers of the Assembly of the PGI to take place in Jayapura in 1995. However, the PGI refused to take action on the report and when the government got the wind of it the board of synod was severely reprimanded. In December 1992 the military commander of Irian Jaya / Maluku branded the Church as a certain organization which wants to break the unity of Indonesia and does not want to see progress.[15] In 1995 Bishop Herman Munninghoff of the Diocese of Jayapura, courageously, made an official complaint about serious human rights violations in Timika to the newly established National Committee for Human Rights (Komnas HAM), established by Soeharto. This made it difficult to accuse the Bishop of separatism or treason. Komnas HAM took up the issue and Munninghoff’s report got international attention.

 

f. Interchurch cooperation

Following the report of the Jayapura Diocese the Evangelical Christian Church (GKI), the Roman Catholic Church and the Evangelical Tabernacle Church (GKII), established in January 1996 Elsham, which in a professional way investigates human rights violations and reports on them. It has build up a network of people it trained to report human rights violations all over the province. The GKI established a separate department of Law and Human Rights (Hukum dan HAM), which makes its own investigations into human rights violations. The Roman Catholic Church established the Justice and Peace Department, headed by Br. Theo van den Broek OFM.

 

In July 1998 the three largest churches, the GKI, Roman Catholic and the GKII set up Foreri, the Forum for Reconciliation in Irian Jaya.[16] This was charged by the Indonesian Secretary of State under President Habibie to organize a national dialogue. This led to the meeting of the “Team of 100” asking freedom from President Habibie in February 1999. Elsham employees as well as the board of synod have been threatened when they made critical reports on activities of army and police. The army and the police threatened them to bring them to court on the accusation of defamation (“fitnah”). When reporting on human rights violations of the army and police you spoil the good reputation of the security forces. This is a crime according to Indonesian law. The director of Elsham was interrogated for 24 hours after making a report on the police attack on the dormitories of students from Paniai and the Baliem in Abepura in December 2000, which led to a great number of casualties, three of them fatal. The chairman and the secretary of synod of the GKI were interrogated by the army after a report on Betaw of the Legal and Human Rights Department of the synod. In Betaw a teacher was kidnapped, who then “disappeared”. The commander of the Kopassus forced the GKI to change the word “Kopassus” as the likely perpetrators into “an unidentified group.” 

 

Some oil companies are aiming at “co-operative security” or “community security”. By investing in community facilities and involving locals in decision-making, companies can get the people living and working around a facility on their side, reducing the risk of raids on their pipelines – and providing early warnings of potential threats. Using this concept BP p.l.c.  invited among others church leaders at a conference and offered them to become paid advisers of the company. Rev. Hermann Saud, the synod chairman of the GKI since 1996, accepted the offer. This strengthened his bargaining position as he could play the company out against the Indonesian government and the army, which exerts strong pressure on him. He pleaded with BP for a privileged treatment of the Papuans, for special educational and training facilities for local people, and on a moratorium for migrant workers from other islands.[17]

 

Religion

1971[18]

%

1980

%

1992

%

2002

%

Protestants

414,515[19]

56

708,279

61

961,466

56

1,300,000

56

Roman Catholics

 

19

256,279

22

408,574

24

531,700

23

Islam

 

22

132,930

11

335,412

20

440,900

19

Other

 

3

67,711

6

5,561

0

n/a

2

Total

 

100

1,165,199

100

1,711,013

100

2,300,000

100

 

Table V: Some data on religion in West Papua

 

(source: Irian Jaya Dalam Angka, Kantor Statistik Irian Jaya, Jayapura)[20]

 

Conclusion

The Church has been a major factor in the developing of a Papuan identity. It helped to open the territory and to mediate in the influences that shaped the future of the Papuans in the area of education, health services and political development. The Church is in an ambivalent position. After the forced integration with Indonesia the church helped to ease the difficulties of the transition, which a majority of Papuans saw as the robbing of their legitimate right to self determination. In the new dispensation there was a great influx of migrants. It can be estimated that one quarter of the new migrants, that is over 200,000, are Christians.  The Church has helped these newcomers to get integrated into Papuan society.

 

However, after the fall of Soeharto in 1998 and the start of the era of “reformasi” and democratization, the Church remains in a precarious position as the military and the police do not want to give up their privileged position and hand over power to elected bodies. The Church is threatened by the army and the police when it pleads for peace and reconciliation and when it calls for an end to human right violations. It is pressured to move to a very vertical theology, ignoring the problem of an unbalanced form of development, and of the progressive disenfranchisement of the Papuans. If the church leaders follow such a “security theology” they are rewarded with posts in parliament or government. However, threats, including anonymous death threats continue. The murder of Theys Eluay on 10 November 2001, Heroes Day, was traumatic, as Theys was considered very close to the Kopassus “elite” troops and the top brass of army and police. If even Theys could not save himself by extensive collaboration, who else could be saved, and no promise of protection or reward from the side of army and police could be trusted. Since that fateful day the government and paramilitary groups have stepped up their action to counter the political aspirations of the Papuans and to protect the Indonesian economic and political interests in the area.
In the middle of 2002 the Laskar Jihad, notorious for its use of violence in furthering its aims of the islamisation of Ambon, Halmahera and Posso, Central Sulawesi, opened an office in Timika. The Laskar Jihad operates in collusion with members of the security forces.

 

The churches have responded by supporting fully the idea of the Papuan nationalists of creating a Papuan peace zone and restricting oneself to non-violent action methods. The churches have tried to find more unity among themselves in view of the threat of a similar provocation of violence as took place in Ambon in the beginning of 1999. In February 2003, on the occasion of the celebration of the coming of the Gospel, the churches decided to form a Papua Chapter of the Communion of Churches (PGI), with Rev. Hermann Saud as its chairperson. This includes Baptists, Evangelicals and Pentecostals, but not the Roman Catholics. With the Catholic Church there is cooperation in the area of human rights action.

 

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Boelaars, J. 1995. Met Papoea’s samen op weg. Deel 2: De baanbrekers. Het openleggen van het binnenland, Kampen: Kok (Series Kerk en Theologie in Context, Vol. 31)

Boelaars, J. 1997. Met Papoea’s samen op weg. Deel 3: De begeleiders. Kampen: Kok (Series Kerk en Theologie in Context, Vol. 35)

Cornelissen, J. F. L. M. 1988. Pater en Papoea. Ontmoeting van de Missionarissen van het Heilig Hart met de cultuur der Papoea’s van Nederlands Zuid-Nieuw Guinea (1905-1963), Kampen: Kok (Series Kerk en Theologie in Context, vol. 1)

De Neef, Alb. J. Heidendom op Nieuw Guinea, Oegstgeest: Het Zendingbureau

Giay, Benny 1995. Zakheus Pakage and His Communities, Amsterdam: Free University Press (Ph.D. Thesis)

Giay, Benny 1999. The Conversion of Weakebo. A Big Man of the Me Community in the 1930s, in: The Journal of Pacific History, 34, 2

GKI dalam arus-pokok masa kini. Sidang Synode Umum GKI ke-V pada tgl 15-27 Oktober 1968 di Sukarnopura, diterbitkan oleh Dinas Penerangana, Propinsi Irian Barat, Sukarnopura (GKI, 1968)

Haripranata SJ (ed) 1967. Ichtisar Kronologis Sedjarah Geredja Katolik Irian-Barat, Djilid 1, Sukarnapura: Pusat Katolik, Idem: Djilid 2, 1969 and Djilid 3, 1970

Hayward, Douglas J. 1980. The Dani of Irian Jaya. Before and After Conversion, Sentani: Regions Press

Ipenburg, A. N. 1999. Een Kerk van Migranten; Een Kerk van het Volk. Tegenstellingen in Irian Jaya, in: Wereld en Zending, 28, 4: 78-82

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Kamma, F. C. 1953. Kruis en Korwar. Een Honderdjarig Vraagstuk op Nieuw Guinea, Den Haag: Voorhoeve

Kamma, F. C. 1972.  Koreri. Messianic Movements in the Biak-Numfor Culture Area, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1972.

Kamma, F. C. 1976. “Dit Wonderlijke Werk,” Het Probleem van de Communicatie tussen Oost en West Gebaseerd op de Ervaringen in het Zendingswerk op Nieuw Guinea (Irian Jaya) 1855-1972. Een Socio-missiologische Benadering,  2 vols, Oegstgeest: Raad voor de Zending der Ned. Hervormde Kerk

Lewis, Rodger 1995. Karya Kristus di Indonesia. Sejarah Gereja Kemah Injil Indonesia Sejak 1930, Bandung: Kalam Hidup, 1995

Neilson, David John 2000. Christianity in Irian (West Papua), Ph. D. Thesis, University of Sydney, Australia (unpublished)

Rauws, J. 1919. Nieuw-Guinea, Den Haag: Zendingsstudieraad (Serie: Onze Zendingsvelden)

Rumaimum, F. J. S. 1966. Sepuluh Tahun G.K.I. Sesuduh Seratus Tahun Zending di Irian Barat, Soekarnapura: GKI

Sawor, Zacharias 1969. Ik ben een Papua, Een getuigeverslag van de toestanden in Westelijk Nieuw Guinea sinds de gezagsoverdracht op 1 October 1962, Groningen: De Vuurbaak

Sejarah Gereja Katolik Indonesia, Jilid 3A, 1974. Jakarta: Bagian Dokumentasi Penerangan KWI

Slump, F. 1935. De Zending op West-Nieuw-Guinee, Oegstgeest: Zendingsbureau (reprint from ‘Mededelingen.’ Tijdschrift voor Zendingswetenschap). 

Sunda, James 1963. Church Growth in the Central Highlands of West New Guinea, Lucknow: Lucknow Publishing House

Tanamal, Goeroe Laurens 1952. De Roepstem Volgend. Autobiografie van Goeroe Laurens Tanamal,.(tr. and ed. by F. C. Kamma) , Den Haag: Voorhoeve (Serie: Lichtstralen op de Akker der Wereld, 53, 2)

Timmer, Jaap, 2000. Living with Intricate Futures. Order and Confusion in Imyan Worlds, Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Ph. D. Thesis, Catholic University Nijmegen (Centre for Pacific and Asian Studies)

Trompf, G. W. 1991. Melanesian Religion, Cambridge: University Press

Ukur, F. and F. L. Cooley  1977. Suatu Survey Mengenai Gereja Kristen Irian Jaya, (Serie: Benih Yang Tumbuh 8), Jakara: DGI

Van den Broek, OFM, Theo P. A. (et. al.) 2001. Memoria Passionis di Papua. Kondisi Sosial Politik dan Hak Asasi Manusia Gambaran 2000, Jakarta: Sekretariat Keadilan dan Perdamaian (SKP) Keuskupan Jayapura and Lembaga Studi Pers dan Pembangunan (LSPP)

Van Baal, J. 1966. Dema. Description and Analysis of Marind-Anim Culture (South New Guinea) (with the collaboration of Fr. J. Verschueren MSC), The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff

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[1]http://www.ethnologue.com (Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 14th Ed).  In education and in public life Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia) is becoming dominant.

[2]  The magnum opus of Van Baal “Dema” proves the complexity and range of depth of the traditional religion of the Marind-anim.

[3] 1 Guilder contained then 9.45 gram silver. Dfl 50 would then amount to about US $ 2,500 in current prices.

[4] See A. Russell Wallace, 1869. The Malay Archipelago, also at: http://www.papuaweb.org/dlib/bk/wallace/papuan.html#xxxiv

[5]  J. L. Van Hasselt and his wife established themselves with Jaesrech in Doreh. In 1871 they went to Mansinam, where they remained till 1907 when J. L. retired. Th. F. Klaassen and his wife left in 1864 for Halmahera. W. Otterspoor returned to the Netherlands in the same year. 

[6] Pastors are Ambonese, Sangirese or Papuans by origin, while missionaries are Dutch or German expatriates.

[7] The complex relationship between traditional religion, the various forms of Christianity introduced by the missions and the new religious movement led by Zakheus Pakage is in a very understanding way analyzed by the Mee anthropologist and religious leader Dr Benny Giay in his doctoral thesis (Benny Giay, 1995).

[8] Z. Sawor, 1969: 40-45, quoting a Report by Silas Papare, member of the People’s Congress, Jakarta, 13 March 1967. Zacharias Sawor studied tropical agriculture in Deventer, the Netherlands, till 1962. He was treasurer of Parkindo, West Irian Section, from 1963 till 1965. He was in prison from August 1965 till August 1966. In June 1967 he fled to Australian New Guinea. Since October 1968 he lives in the Netherlands.

[9]  Z. Sawor, 1969: 49, quoting a Report of the Command of the Regional Police XXL, West Irian, First Quarter 1966, by Drs. Soejoko, Chief of Staff Secret Intelligence Service, Soekarnopoera, 26 June 1966. The quotation is: “… ditembak mati dengan tjara yang tidak kentara oleh anggota2 dari daerah Indonesia sendiri. Hingga hal ini tidak dapat dimengertikan oleh pihak penduduk daerah Irian Barat sendiri.” 

[10] His father, Baldus Mofu, a teacher and former member of the Nieuw Guinea Raad, died in 1979 while in military custody.

[11] Indonesia used the musyawarah system, an indirect voting system, not the one man one vote system. Military pressure assured that there was not a single vote against integration of West Papuan into the Indonesian Republic..  

[12]  GKI, 1968: 37-42. Rev. Tjakraatmadja was a member of staff of the General Meeting of Synod of the GKI. (BPSU). He later became the Rector of the Theological College I. S. Kijne of the GKI. He was a Sundanese. He issaid to have protected GKI ministers when they were under suspicion by the army after many  Papuans had expressed disappointment with the way the Act of Free Choice was organized.

[13] Rev. Hermann Saud in a meeting with prof. Gerrie ter Haar and author at the synod office, October 2001.

[14] I am indebted to Dr. Dick Kroneman (SIL), NRC missionary and SIL translator, for this analysis.

[15] Tifa Irian, December 1992, in Benny Giay, 2001

[16] There is a wink at the concept of “koreri”, which denotes the salvation offered in traditional religion of the people of Biak, Numfor and other places around the Cenderawasih Bay.

[17] Personal communication to author, Abepura, March 2002.

[18]  Based on a census of 150,786 people in urban areas only.

[19] Of these 331,376 (76 %) GKI.

[20]  These figures are based on the national census and on samples. The figures differ from the statistics the churches themselves keep about membership, as they may define membership in a different way.

overnment, is identified with society. Religion is viewed as a branch of government. All five recognized religions had to include respect to the Panca Sila as their basis (“azas”), notwithstanding the feeble protests of the Fellowship of the Indonesian Churches (Persekutuan Gereja-Gereja Indonesia, PGI) that they had already Jesus Christ as their basis. The only realistic way to survive was to support the Indonesian effort at integration of the Papuans with the risk of the loss of one’s identity. According to Hermann Saud, chairman of synod of the GKI, since 1996, Papuans as Christians, willingly, have to sacrifice their aspiration for independence, because their desire for independence legitimizes a military presence in West Papua, which in turn leads to the killing of Papuans. As a Christian we have to sacrifice in order to get life. The Church can not change the Indonesian reality that the Government has the people, and not, as in western countries, that the people have a government. The harsh reality is that Papuans are considered the property of Indonesia.[13] We see that church leaders, who for pragmatic reasons support the Indonesian government and army policy in West-Papua, are rewarded with appointments in government. Rev. Rumainum, synod chairman from 1956 till 1968, was a candidate for the governorship, at the time of his sudden death in January 1968. Rev. Maloali, synod chairman from 1971 till 1977, became Chairman of the provincial parliament for Golkar. Rev. J. Mamoribo became chairman of the provincial council and deputy governor. Rev D. Prawar became chairman of the council of the Sorong regency, while the Reverends. N. Apaserai, Z. Rumere, Lukas Sobarofek and F. Ondi became members of a council of a regency (kabupaten).  Rev. Wim Rumsarwir, synod chairman from 1988 to 1996, became member of the national parliament for Golkar at the elections of 1997. The ambivalence of these ministers turned politician is clear as Rev. Rumsarwir was also a member of the Team of 100, which demanded independence from Indonesia in February 1999. He was an active member in the committee that demanded a far-going form of autonomy from parliament in 2001, including control of the army and prosecution of human rights violations in West Papua.

At the activities in the context of the struggle for freedom, like the Musyawarah Besar (Mubes, the Great Debate) in 1999 and the Papua Congress in 2000, church ministers played an important role. In the present conditions it is, virtually, only ministers who can maintain more or less their independence as they are paid by the people, and not the government. The church, especially the GKI, gets involved in politics if it gets the chance. In October 1999 the GKI, encouraged by the new freedom of the “reformation” period after the fall of Soeharto, made a political statement when it rejected the division of the province of  Papua into three smaller provinces. The church claimed to speak on behalf of “the people of West Papua”. The statement was signed by Rev. Herman Awom as vice-chairman of synod.  At the parliamentary elections of 2004 as many as 80 candidates in West Papua were ministers. To maintain its distance from the state those elected are suspended from their office as a minister, though they do not loose the right to preach.  By 2002 the GKI claimed to have about 800,000 members in over one thousand congregations, served by 400 ministers. It had an annual budget of Rp 4 billion (€ 400,000), which makes it a fairly poor church in financial terms. The poor presbyteries in the interior get generous support from the few rich congregations, where a majority of members are migrants in the urban areas of Jayapura, Abepura, Sentani, Timika, Biak and Sorong.

c. The Catholics

The “re-integration” of West Papua in Indonesia in 1962 caused hardships for the Catholic Mission. There was a conflict about the Indonesian demand to hand over its schools to become government schools. The mission, with success, resisted an effort at the take-over of the Teacher Training College in Merauke. However, when Fr. J. Smit in Agats refused to handover his schools, he was executed on the spot, by Fimbay, the Indonesian district officer. In 1964 all missionaries had to go to Java, for what they called themselves an “indoctrination course.” They were taught there the official state ideology of Panca Sila. In 1963 Fak-Fak joined the Apostolic Prefecture of Manokwari. The Sisters from Tienray established clinics and a hospital in Senopi and Ayawassi. In 1969 a Catholic Academy for Theology (ATK) was established in Abepura with a four years course for pastoral workers and a seven years program for priests. In 1972 it had 38 students. In the same year six Indonesian Franciscan friars joined the Dutch. They began work in Wamena, together with two Papuan Franciscans. In that year two brothers from the Society for the Divine Word (SVD) from East Flores joined the mission to work in Merauke and in Manokwari. Javanese priests worked as a Director of the Roman Catholic Centre and as army chaplains. When the Dutch Franciscan Herman (Yanuarius) Munninghoff OFM became bishop of Jayapura, the diocese had 31,560 Roman Catholics of which 23,000 in Paniai, Mimika and Akimuga. The diocese of Manokwari had then 10,753 and the diocese of Merauke about 90,000 Catholics.

 

(Arch)diocese (Arch)bishop-birthplace) Catholics  Population %
Merauke Nicolaus Adi Seputra MSC (Purwokerto, Java)

135,000

220,000

58

Jayapura Leo Laba Ladjar OFM (Bauraja, Flores, NTT)

45,000

840,000

5

Manokwari/Sorong Datus Lega  (Kupang, West Timor, NTT)

55,000

560,000

10

Agats Aloysius Murwito OFM  (Sleman-Yogya, Java)

50,000

71,000

70

Timika John Philip Saklil (Kokonao, Papua)

72,000

520,000

14

West Papua

357,000

2,568,000

14

Table III: The Roman Catholic Church in West Papua (2004 figures)

(source: http://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/diocese/djaya.html)

d. Other mission activity and the search for “unreached” tribes and peoples

In this period there is an increased activity by American, Australian and conservative protestant Dutch missions. These, generally speaking have a vertical view of salvation. One abstains from political involvement. They moved into areas not yet served by the Reformed and the Catholic missions. These were from America the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CAMA), the Regions Beyond Missionary Union (RBMU), The Missions Fellowship (TMF) and the Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM) and from Australia the Unevangelized Field Mission (UFM), the Australian Baptist Mission Society (ABMS) and the Asia Pacific Christian Mission (APCM). Many of these missions are strongly anti-Catholic, which led to several religious conflicts. TMF was established in 1963 as a form practical co-operation between CAMA, UFM, RBMU, ABMS and MAF, while ZGK, NRC and APCM became associate members. The Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) provided since 1954 air services for these missions to reach the remote places where they had started work. Without MAF the expansion of so many missions in very remote areas would not have been possible as often the air connection is virtually the only way to reach these places. MAF also established a radio network, connecting the various mission posts with each other and with the coast. By the 1980s it served 230 air strips of which 175 were visited regularly. It employed 14 pilots and technicians. The Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) entered West Papua in 1972 with the purpose to study Papua languages, help with literacy work, agricultural development and the translation of the Bible. SIL worked together with the state University Cenderawasih (Uncen) in Jayapura. It is active in 26 languages. In 1994 it employed 84 expatriate missionaries from America, South Korea, Germany and Holland. Half of these work as translators.

In 1963 the CAMA congregations became independent of the CAMA mission to become the Tabernacle Gospel Christian Church Kemah Injil Gereja Masehi di  Indonesia  (KINGMI), later renamed to the Evangelical Tabernacle Church in Indonesia (Gereja Kemah Injili di Indonesia, hence GKII). The new church sent its own evangelists to the Wolani and Moni tribes. In 1964 the New Testament appeared in the Me language. In the 1970s, however, came the real breakthrough with mass conversions. In 1977 and 1978 there was a rising of the Dani in the Baliem. 50,000 Dani warriors, armed with spears and bows and arrows marched on to Wamena. They were met by Indonesian soldiers armed with machineguns. They pursued the Danis into the Western Dani area. Those who fled to the mountains and forests were machine gunned from the air using Bronco air planes. The Indonesian army also used traditional believers to attack Christian villages to suppress the rising. Thousands were killed in this rebellion. This was a traumatic experience with foreign intrusion into the ancient culture of the Baliem Valley.

 

baptized members

Papuan ministers

1961

8,319

82

1971

23,261

523

1988

59,382

1,200

1998

150,000

1,616

 

Table IV: The GKII, 1961-1998

The Australian UFM entered West Papua in 1950. It worked in Sengge and the Habifluri valley near Lake Archbold, where it established the Bokondini mission post in 1956. In 1962 it had its first baptism in Kelila. The American UFM established a mission post in Wolo in 1957. In 1966 it began work among the Ilukwa population and in 1968 among the Nggem. It established a hospital in Mulia, with a school for nurses. Here many mission posts were destroyed by people opposing Indonesian occupation. The RBMU started work in 1957 in Karubaga in the Swart Valley. In 1961 it worked in the eastern highlands in Ninia and Karopun and in the southern coastal area among the Yali of Seng (Yalimo area). In 1972 there were 21,000 converts, 100 congregations, over 30 missionaries and 176 Papuan church leaders. The UFM, the RBMU and the APCM worked closely together. They formed the Evangelical Church in Irian Jaya, the Gereja Injili di Irian Jaya, hence GIDI, in 1973. In 1998 the GIDI had 178,000 members, 364 churches and 1,144 ministers or evangelists.

The ABMS began mission work in 1956 in Tiom. From there it extended work to Magi in cooperation by local Papuans. Mission work included besides the bible school, literacy work, medical training and carpentry training. In 1976 the Baptist Church of Irian Jaya (Gereja Baptis Irian Jaya, hence GBIJ) became independent of the mission. In 1998 it had about 75,000 members, 110 posts and 86 Papuan teachers or ministers.

The Mission of the Reformed Congregations in the Netherlands and North America (Zending der Gereformeerde Gemeenten in Nederland en Noord-Amerika, ZGG, also called the Netherlands Reformed Congregation, hence NRC) began work in Pass Valley or Abenaho in the Yali area with Rev. Gerrit Kuyt, a nurse and a teacher’s couple in 1962. In 1971 it extended work to Nipsan (1971). In 1973 the APCM transferred the Tri valley to the NRC. Jan Louwerse opened here the post Langda in the Una speaking area. The Una people in the Eastern Highlands had a sudden, conversion in the period 1973 to 1980, similar to that of the Danis in the Baliem in the same period. The Una people associated the European missionaries coming into the area as associated with the spirit world because of their pale skin. The newcomers who brought the Gospel used supernatural means of transport (a helicopter) and the tools, like steel exes, machetes and knives, the outsiders brought with them were perceived as superior. Finally, some authoritative Una people had dreamt that pale skinned people would come to them and do well. These factors played a role while there was at the same time a spiritual crisis. The first village to be converted was Langda. The people in this village were considered the underdogs in the war with the village of Loryi in the Northern Ei valley. The frequent earthquakes in that period may also have had an impact.[14] Out of this mission work the Protestant Congregation Church in Indonesia (Gereja Jemaat Protestan di Indonesia, hence GJPI) emerged. From 1986 the GJPI worked in the Momina area. In several of these areas conversion took place in the form of mass burnings of fetishes.

Rev. Meeuwes Drost opened in 1958 on behalf of the Mission of the Reformed Churches (Zending van de Gereformeerde Kerken, hence ZGK) a mission post in Kouh in the Bomakia area of the Upper Digul River in the Merauke Regency. In 1968 20 adults and 7 children were baptized. In 1971 it started work among the Citak people on the river Ndeiran and among the Kombai on the Wanggemalo river. The ZGK also worked in South Digul where the Roman Catholic Mission is at work in Butiptiri, Kaisah, Getentri, Merauke and Semaligga. In 1972 a Central Bible School was established in Boma. In 1976 contacts were made with the Reformed Churches in East Sumba. Both established then the Reformed Churches in Indonesia (Gereja-Gereja Reformasi di Indonesia, GGRI). Since 1980 all the medical and educational work is done by the Foundation for the Building of Reformed Service or Yayasan Pembinaan Pelayanan Reformasi, YAPPER). In 1982 the first Papuan minister, Rev Rumi, was ordained. By 1984 there were 2,086 baptized members, 56 places of worship with Papuan teachers and two Papuan ministers.  In 1986 the first church elders were inaugurated in the congregation of Kouh

 

The GKI, encouraged by these mission activities and aided by the German Rheinische Missions Gesellschaft (RMG) began in 1960 mission work among the Dani of Kurima and Mugwi and under the Yali of Yalimo (Angguruk and Apahapsili).  Rev Siegfried Zöllner (German United Evangelical Mission, VEM) and medical doctor Wim Vriend (Dutch Netherlands Reformed Mission, ZNHK) acted as the pioneer missionaries here. The GKI had  established a congregation in Wamena, led by Rev. Zeth Rumere, to serve their members working there as policemen, army personnel and civil servants, immediately when Wamena had been established as a government post for the Baliem Valley in 1956. The congregation also served the Dani’s working in the town. These Dani became the evangelists for their fellow Dani’s in th Baliem valley. After 1968 Dani and Yali villages began to accept Christianity. Conversion was preceded in most cases by the ritual of the burning of their fetishes of traditional religion. The first baptism was in 1972 in the Yali village of  Angguruk and in 1974 in the Dani village of Polimo. By 2004 the presbytery of Balim-Yalimo was the largest of the GKI, with 30,000 members.

d. Independent churches and the development of a people’s theology

A number of independent church movements was active in this period. Most of these are small and only locally active. In Sorong lives Ambrosius Fatie who calls himself Tuan Jesus. He has 12 female disciples and about 50-100 followers. He is preaching West Papua as the place where the Garden of Eden used to be. The Papuans have a special place in God’s creation order. In West Yapen there is a congregation, which calls itself New GKI, which has associations with the koreri movement. By 2000 the woodcarver Micha Ronsumbre had started on Biak a church with the name koreri. There is a lot of prayers and singing by church choirs. Micha is a woodcarver, who carves korwar wood carvings to honour the ancestral spirits. These movements could be seen as a legitimate response of the Papuans just as the African Initiated Churches are now seen in this perspective. The Government was very rash to accuse these movements of political rebellion, separatism or treason. In April 2004 for instance Mathias Furima who has established himself as a prophet (“Jesus”) in the Bintuni area was shot by the police, accused of being a member of the Papuan Freedom Army (Tentara Papua Merdeka, TPM). Two of his female disciples were killed.

From the grassroots a true liberation theology developed. This is more a movement, without a particular structure than an organization. It is often described as aspiration for freedom movement, Gerakan Aspirasi Merdeka, or even only as Aspirasi “M”). Political events were interpreted using metaphors from the Bible. The Papuan people were identified with the people of Israel, in the Old Testament. As Israel had been for 40 years in the desert, so the Papuans had to be 40 years in the desert of the Indonesian occupation, before they would enter the Promised Land, that is get merdeka (freedom or independence). When a team of 100 went in February 1999 to President Habibie to demand independence, they were like Moses demanding freedom for Israel from pharaoh. Theys Eluay, the Chairman of the Presidium of the Papuan Council (PDP), who had worked for the Indonesians in the 1960s and 1970s to identify anti-Indonesian Papuans, and to realize a pro-Indonesian vote in the Act of Free Choice, was like Moses, who also first had worked for pharaoh, the enemy of Israel. The Papuans are compared with Jonah, who is swallowed by a big fish, which is Indonesia. In the end the fish will spit out Jonah. Jesus is seen as the King of the Papuans, who will deliver them from evil and bring them freedom. The Lord gives special blessings to the Papuans as they remain faithful Christians in a country with the majority Muslims. The Muslims are punished with a financial crisis, with disasters like earthquakes, forest fires and plane and boat accidents. At the protests at the funeral of Thomas Wanggay in the beginning of 1996, when the army did not allow students to carry his coffin from Abepura to Jayapura, the road was blocked by laying large stones in the form of crosses on the road. Students sang the hymn: “Onwards Christian Soldiers.” Many shops in the centre of Abepura and the pasar were burned. However, shopkeepers, who could show a copy of the Bible, were saved.

With the fall of Soeharto on Ascension Day 1998 (“Yesus naik, Soeharto turun”, “The rise of Jesus, the fall of Soeharto” according to the Papuans) and the establishment of more democratic institutions and a greater freedom of opinion in the whole of Indonesia, the Church got more freedom, together with the challenge to give spiritual guidance to the Papuans in their movement for freedom. The churches were challenged to define a new role of leadership in society, relatively independent of the government and Golkar Party. The movement for freedom is called the movement for “aspirasi M”, the longing for “freedom”, merdeka. Papuans claim their right to exist and their right to freedom and independence. Real people’s theologies emerge. Papuans have a black skin, curly hair, they are Christians, and have a separate identity, separate from the “Indonesians”, who are called  “amber” or people with a “white” skin, straight hair, who practice the Moslem religion.

e. Religion, politics and human rights

Flag raising ceremonies with the forbidden Morning Star flag, introduced in 1961 for the new state of West Papua, started in Biak in July 1999. This was severely suppressed with numerous casualties. In December 1999, initiated by Theys Eluay, there were all over West Papua flag raising ceremonies, all peaceful, to celebrate the first flag raising of the Morning Star flag on 1 December 1961 and to remember the victims of Indonesian oppression. All of these ceremonies, including the later ones in the course of 2000 at Timika, Nabire, Sorong, Manokwari and Wamena, and other places were at the same time religious ceremonies, with prayers, hymn singing, and sermons. The ceremonies on 1 December 1999 were allowed, but from that time the army and the mobile brigade of the police began to suppress all these manifestations of the desire to be free, very severely. There were so many casualties each time the police or the army intervened that Papuans began to speak about “Bloody Biak”, “Bloody Nabire”, and “Bloody Timika” as each time there were human casualties when the army or the police tried to lower the Morning Star flag.

To establish peace and order and to prevent the outbreak of religious conflicts as in neighbouring Ambon in 1999 Theys Eluay introduced the idea of the Pos Komando Papua (Posko Papua). These Command Posts were distributed all over the province and manned by Papuan youth dressed in a black T shirt and black trousers, so called Satgas (Satuan Tugas or task force). These took effectively over the maintenance of law and order in the province, till December 2000 when they were forbidden by the police. Christian prayers and hymns were part of the rituals of the flag raising and of the activities of the Satgas Papua at the Poskos.

When in 2001 Rev. Bennie Giay, lecturer at the Theological College Walter Post, and Br. Theo van den Broek OFM tried to mediate in the kidnapping of two Belgian travelers in the Star Mountains, they were received as representatives of the Tabernacle Church and the Roman Catholic Church. In an official ceremony the Papuans there gave them officially back the Gospel, symbolized by the Bible. In their opinion the Gospel had only brought them misery. With the Gospel also the Indonesian army and Freeport had entered and taken away their freedom. In their view these were one complex. They saw that the chairman of the Evangelical Tabernacle Church (GKII) got large sums of money as an advisor of Freeport Company. Freeport gave visiting missionaries money to convert the Papuans to make them acquiesce with Indonesian rule and to give up their resistance. By rejecting collaboration of the church they showed an exegesis of the Gospel consonant with that of liberation theology.

Already before the relatively greater freedom since 1998 the churches protested in a quiet and careful way against human rights violations taking place in West Papua. In April 1992 the Evangelical Christian Church (GKI) published a report, based on observations by church members, elders and ministers, of serious human rights violations. This so-called Blue Book, because of its cover, was handed to the Fellowship of Indonesian Churches (PGI) for inclusion in the assembly papers of the Assembly of the PGI to take place in Jayapura in 1995. However, the PGI refused to take action on the report and when the government got the wind of it the board of synod was severely reprimanded. In December 1992 the military commander of Irian Jaya / Maluku branded the Church as a certain organization which wants to break the unity of Indonesia and does not want to see progress.[15] In 1995 Bishop Herman Munninghoff of the Diocese of Jayapura, courageously, made an official complaint about serious human rights violations in Timika to the newly established National Committee for Human Rights (Komnas HAM), established by Soeharto. This made it difficult to accuse the Bishop of separatism or treason. Komnas HAM took up the issue and Munninghoff’s report got international attention.

f. Interchurch cooperation

Following the report of the Jayapura Diocese the Evangelical Christian Church (GKI), the Roman Catholic Church and the Evangelical Tabernacle Church (GKII), established in January 1996 Elsham, which in a professional way investigates human rights violations and reports on them. It has build up a network of people it trained to report human rights violations all over the province. The GKI established a separate department of Law and Human Rights (Hukum dan HAM), which makes its own investigations into human rights violations. The Roman Catholic Church established the Justice and Peace Department, headed by Br. Theo van den Broek OFM.

In July 1998 the three largest churches, the GKI, Roman Catholic and the GKII set up Foreri, the Forum for Reconciliation in Irian Jaya.[16] This was charged by the Indonesian Secretary of State under President Habibie to organize a national dialogue. This led to the meeting of the “Team of 100” asking freedom from President Habibie in February 1999. Elsham employees as well as the board of synod have been threatened when they made critical reports on activities of army and police. The army and the police threatened them to bring them to court on the accusation of defamation (“fitnah”). When reporting on human rights violations of the army and police you spoil the good reputation of the security forces. This is a crime according to Indonesian law. The director of Elsham was interrogated for 24 hours after making a report on the police attack on the dormitories of students from Paniai and the Baliem in Abepura in December 2000, which led to a great number of casualties, three of them fatal. The chairman and the secretary of synod of the GKI were interrogated by the army after a report on Betaw of the Legal and Human Rights Department of the synod. In Betaw a teacher was kidnapped, who then “disappeared”. The commander of the Kopassus forced the GKI to change the word “Kopassus” as the likely perpetrators into “an unidentified group.”

Some oil companies are aiming at “co-operative security” or “community security”. By investing in community facilities and involving locals in decision-making, companies can get the people living and working around a facility on their side, reducing the risk of raids on their pipelines – and providing early warnings of potential threats. Using this concept BP p.l.c.  invited among others church leaders at a conference and offered them to become paid advisers of the company. Rev. Hermann Saud, the synod chairman of the GKI since 1996, accepted the offer. This strengthened his bargaining position as he could play the company out against the Indonesian government and the army, which exerts strong pressure on him. He pleaded with BP for a privileged treatment of the Papuans, for special educational and training facilities for local people, and on a moratorium for migrant workers from other islands.[17]

 

Religion

1971[18]

%

1980

%

1992

%

2002

%

Protestants

414,515[19]

56

708,279

61

961,466

56

1,300,000

56

Roman Catholics

19

256,279

22

408,574

24

531,700

23

Islam

22

132,930

11

335,412

20

440,900

19

Other

3

67,711

6

5,561

0

n/a

2

Total

 

100

1,165,199

100

1,711,013

100

2,300,000

100

 

 

Table V: Some data on religion in West Papua

0. A Church History of West Papua [NOT FOR CITATION] [© 2004, A. N. Ipenburg]

1. Introduction

The history of the Church in West Papua is a history of the response of the Papuans to the introduction of the Christian faith by missionaries mainly from the Netherlands, Germany and the United States. To understand this response there is need to provide some introduction into the characteristics of Melanesian and Papuan culture and religion. The history of the church in West Papua is different from that of the church in most other parts of Indonesia. Until the last decades of the twentieth century for instance there was hardly any active role by Moslems. Till the 1960s Christianity was the established religion of the people and of the government. West Papua is still the region with the highest percentage of Christians in the population. Christianity has been an important factor in the strengthening of a Papuan identity, separate from a tribal identity.  Papuans developed a grassroots theology, which helped them to cope with the challenge of modernisation and to maintain and develop their identity, threatened in the New Order state of Suharto.

 

Christian mission began work in West Papua in 1855, almost half a century before the Dutch colonial government entered the territory to establish its first permanent government posts there. Systematic external interference in Papuan indigenous political and social institutions came late and has been, until recently, quite limited. Traditional ways of life could be preserved, especially in the Highlands, where 40 % of the Papuans live. The Indonesian Government and army only began to intervene intensively in the early 1960s in the culture, religion and economy of the Papuans, often using considerable violence. This was strongly resisted by the Papuans. They used Christian values and concepts in their struggle for freedom. Since the 1990s Papuans use mainly non-violent methods, aiming at reconciliation and dialogue as means to solve their conflict with the Indonesians. The movement is nevertheless harshly suppressed by the Indonesian army and police. From 1970 till 1998 West Papua was designated as a Military Operational Territory (Daerah Operasi Militer, DOM). This means the supremacy of the security forces in society, in politics and in the economy. 

 

   2. Background

West Papua (successively called Papua land or Tanah Papua, Nieuw Guinee, Nederlands Nieuw Guinea, Irian Barat, Irian Jaya, Papua, West Irian Jaya/Papua and West Papua) is the western part of the island of New Guinea. Its size is 420,000 sq. km, the size of California or one quarter the size of Indonesia without New Guinea. It has at present (2004) about 2.5 million inhabitants of which an estimated 1.6 million (about 65 %) Papuans. The remainder are “newcomers” (pendatang), who came after the incorporation of West Papua in Indonesia. There are three categories of these: (a) the transmigrants, who have been settled in West Papua by the government as peasant farmers, (b) the “free” migrants, who came as traders, taxi drivers, craftsmen, shopkeepers, salesmen and women at the market, miners and so on, and (3) government officials and army and police personnel, who were sent here on a tour of duty. Some of them bought a property and stayed after their retirement. Most of the migrants are from Java and by religion Muslim.

 

The Papuans are Melanesians. They have been there probably been there for 30,000 to 40,000 years. The origin of the Melanesians is uncertain. They may once have occupied the whole of Indonesia. In Indonesia there are still a few pockets of people who are ethnically and linguistically similar to the Papuans, e.g. in Timor, the interior of Seram, Tanimbar and other islands in East Indonesia. The enormous linguistic diversity of West Papua is evidence of a long stay. More than 250 languages are spoken. Some people on the North coast like the Biak and Numfor people speak Austronesian languages, which are members of the large language family to which also Malay, Malagasy and the Polynesian languages belong. Most Papuan languages are grouped together as “Trans-New Guinea languages”, with other languages classified as West Papuan, East Bird’s Head and Gelvink Bay languages. Many languages have less than 100 speakers. The largest language groups are: the Dani (270,000), the Mee, also known as Kapauke or Ekari, (100,000), the Biak-Numfor (40,000), the Yali (33,000), the Sentani (30,000 speakers), Moni (Paniai) (20,000) and the Asmat (19,000). Smaller groups are: the Hatam (Moi) 16,000, the Meyah 15-20,000, the Damal 14,000, the Ketengban, the Manikion, the Yaqai, the Mandobo, the Marind-anim, the Amungme and the Ayfat[1]

 

The peoples at the North Coast and on Biak, the people from Numfor and Yapen, islands in the Cenderawasih Bay, as well those of the South coast of the Bird’s Head, live from cassava, fishing and hunting. The Highlands, unexplored until the 1940s and 1950s, is twice the size of Switzerland. The people of the Highlands practice a fairly sophisticated form of agriculture, with terracing and the making of stone fences. The Papuans are among the first cultivators in the world. The main crop is the sweet potato (“batatas” ), a crop originating from Middle America and brought to East Indonesia by the Portuguese in the early 16th century. The introduction of the sweet potato, which replaced the yam (keladi), enabled the Papuans to settle in the Highlands, which are too cold for other crops. The sweet potato is the main staple food for humans and for the pigs. The pig has a very important role in society. It is used to pay a bride price, to compensate for damages and to establish peace between rival groups and villages. One who is able to organize a pig feast enhances his status. In regular pig festivals a large number of pigs are slaughtered and eaten. Here, traditionally, the archetypal pig is honoured, which is a saviour hero who sacrificed himself in order to provide the food crops humankind needed for survival. The ethnic groups in the South, in the Merauke and in the Mimika regencies, were traditionally hunters and food gatherers, though cassava is also cultivated. Among these, the Asmat and Marind-anim are world famous for their wood carvings. The art is of a religious nature and closely connected with their headhunting raids. Headhunting was an integral part of their complex culture. Heads were needed for young men in order to get married. Heads gained in these raids were in their world view connected with the fertility of the land and the well-being of the tribe.[2]

 

West Papua is rich in minerals like copper, gold, oil and nickel. The exploration of fragrant wood (“kayu geharu”) and logging in the vast forests also brings in considerable wealth to some individuals. In 1967 an American company, Freeport McRohan, built the world’s largest copper and gold mine in the Amungme area, near Timika, on the South coast. In the 1990s huge deposits of LNG were found near Bintuni, in the Bird’s Head, which is exploited by BP. From the early 1970s onwards the Indonesian government introduced the policy of transmigration, in part financed by the World Bank, which brought poor and landless, mainly Javanese families to West Papua. They are given five acres of land (20,000 sq. m), a two bedroom wooden house, with a well and a pit latrine and just enough rice to make it until the next harvest. After five years the land becomes their property. The vast majority of these transmigrants are Moslems. Only very few of the plots are made available for Papuans on the same conditions as the outsiders. Of the other migrants, those who come on their own, an estimated one third comes from Java, one quarter from the Moluccas, while others come from North and Middle Sulawesi (Manadonese, Sangirese and Toraja), South Sulawesi (Buginese, Butonese, Makassarese), Sumatra (Batak and Minangkabau) or Flores and Timor. There are also a small number of Hindu Balinese and Buddhist Chinese.

 

Generally speaking Papuans have been left out of the type of development (“pembangunan”) of the New Order government of Soeharto. The land given to the transmigrants for free was taken away from the Papuans, often without proper compensation. In the modern sector of the economy private companies give preference to migrants with regard to employment. Migrants from South Sulawesi (Buginese, Butonese and Makassarese) have virtually monopolized the local open air markets (pasar). Papuans are heavily underrepresented in government service, in the police and in the army. Only since 1998, the provincial government has an affirmative employment policy for Papuans (“putra” and “putri daerah”). This Papuanisation is a slow process. From all modern institutions it is only the church and church-related institutions like schools that are controlled and dominated by Papuans.

 

    3. Before 1855: Early encounters?

There is no concrete evidence of Christian mission to West-Papua before the 19th century. However, Christianity in East Indonesia may still indirectly have influenced religion in West Papua. Portuguese and Spanish missionaries, Franciscans and others, were, from 1520 onwards, active in the Moluccas and established mission posts in Tidore, Ternate, Seram, Ambon and Banda. All these places had already trading relations with the Raja Ampat islands and the Bird’s Head of West Papua.  Spanish Jesuits were, in the same period, active in the Philippines and tried, from there, to get a foothold in the Moluccas and West New Guinea. Augustinians were also involved in mission work in the area. In 1538 Antonio Galvano ordered a journey of exploration to the Papuan Islands (Raja Ampat), to visit the rajas (rulers) of  Viaigue (Waigeo), Quibibi (Gebee?) and Mincimbo (Mansimbau?, Mansinam?). Nothing is known of the result of this enterprise. A later Jesuit report mentions that a delegation from the Papuan Islands asked for priests. There is a report from 1550 stating that there are Christians on the Papuan Islands. Freerk Kamma, a Dutch Reformed missionary, who worked in the Raja Ampat and the Bird’s Head from 1931 until 1962, found a Summa Theologia of Thomas Aquinas, used by a Papuan shaman as a tool for divination. This find could be seen as an indication of some form of early culture contacts between Papuans and Portuguese and/or Spanish missionaries.

 

At the beginning of the 17th century Portuguese and Spanish influence was replaced by that of the Dutch with the entry of the Dutch East India Company (VOC or “kompeni”) in East Indonesia. The Dutch did not give Christian mission as much priority as the Spanish and the Portuguese had been doing. However, it is possible that casual visits and information about Christianity since the early 16th century through trading contacts led to the emergence of new myths or to the transformation of local myths. Biak, Raja Ampat and large areas of the Cendrawasih Bay have myths about a self sacrificing Saviour, who left or died, but promised to return, when he would establish a kind of a millennium. The Biak people call this millennium “koreri”. This is announced by a forerunner of the messiah, a prophet, the “konor”. The messiah figure itself is called in Biak and Numfor the Manseren Mangundi. The Mee of Paniai, South-East of Nabire, have a similar myth of the return of  Koyeidaba. He gave his life to create new life to help humankind in a concrete way, with new food crops. According to the Mee anthropologist and church leader Dr Benny Giay, the Mee of Paniai saw themselves the close similarities of their religious myths with the Gospel. They even thought that the missionaries had come from America not to bring the Gospel, but “to steal” the Mee myths by giving cues about traditional Mee religion. Several tribes have similar stories about a millennium, which will be brought about by the advent of a messiah figure. The existence of this type of myths may have helped the Papuans to accept the Gospel. There is for them a continuity when converting to Christianity.

 

From 1828 till 1836 there was an effort to establish a Dutch settlement, Merkusoord, with Fort du Bus, on the Triton bay on the South Coast of New Guinea, east of Kaimana. This failed, as many settlers died of diseases. The local population continued to attack the settlers, encouraged by Muslim traders from Ternate, who feared the loss of their trading monopoly. This was a Christian presence, though there is no evidence of any influence on the conversion of the Papuans of the area. There was an expansion of Catholic Mission work in the Pacific toward New Guinea coming from the East (Hawaii, 1825). Early Catholic jurisdiction over the whole of the island of New Guinea, including West Papua, was from the Prefecture of the Sandwich Islands. The Marists entered the eastern half of the island in 1848. The Jesuits opened a station in Tual, Kei Islands in 1888, and in 1889 founded a station at Langgur, which became the main staging post for Catholic missions in the Moluccas and the south coast of West Papua. The Catholics only began their first mission reconnaissance tours in West Papua in the 1890s.

 

    4. “Injil Masuk (The Gospel Enters): 1855-1898

The first systematic mission effort in West Papua was an initiative of the German minister Johannes Evangelist Gossner (1773-1858). He was supported by the Dutch minister, Otto G. Heldring. Heldring was the founder of institutes for destitute women and girls (the Heldringgestichten in Zetten and in 1848 of the Christian Worker Association (“Vereeniging  Christen-Werkman”). He was involved in the revival movement in the Dutch churches, called the Réveil, the “Awakening”. Spokesmen for the Réveil , like Da Costa, Bilderdijk, De Clerq and Groen van Prinsterer, linked a messianism with the idea that Holland was a nation chosen by the Lord, the nation “on which Christ had laid His hand”. The Réveil saw a link between the loss of faith and the decline of the nation. These ideas have a close similarity with Christian beliefs now common with Papuans.

 

Gossner and Heldring shared ideas about mission. For an effective Christian mission one needs no more than a great faith, showing itself in action. A missionary only needs a Bible, a hymn book and “a heart filled with a living faith”. Simple craftsmen were the right missionaries as they would be able to make a living at their mission post by working. In their free time they could go out and preach the Gospel. This concept of mission is not unlike that of David Livingstone for Central Africa in the same period. Livingstone advocated mission work by Christian settlers, to combine Christianity with “commerce.” Evangelization had to be combined with economic development, with the introduction of new crops and modern technology. There was, possibly, a chiliastic aspect in the choice of West Papua for Christian mission, although the area was not even brought under colonial rule. Jesus had promised after his Resurrection that He would return as soon as the Gospel had reached “the ends of the earth.” There were not many areas in the world as remote as West Papua. So the area was selected, jumping over other areas, which were not yet evangelized.

                                                                                

It was Protestant missionaries who were the first to establish permanent mission posts in West New Guinea. This was quite decisive in the view of present day Papuans. According to them, the Gospel entered Papua land on Sunday 5 February 1855, when Carl Ottow and Johann Geissler set foot ashore at Mansinam, a small island near Manokwari. They knelt on the beach and prayed, claiming the whole island for Christ. The whole of West Papua was, as it were, baptized. This story is now used to claim West Papua for (Christian) Papuans against (Moslem) Indonesians of other islands. In 2001 5 February became a public holiday in the province.

 

The Papuans in the area where Carl Ottow and Johann Geissler worked were not easily converted. They were not prepared to change their customs, a precondition of conversion. Ottow and Geissler started with language study and soon produced a word list and a grammar of the Numfor language. In recognition for this work the Government supplied the missionaries each with a monthly grant of 50 Dutch Guilders[3]. They proposed a grand scheme to the Government to involve the Papuans in a tobacco plantation on the Kebar plateau, with the help of Christian farmers from Java. The scheme included the supply of 20 guns with ammunition “to strike awe into robbers” and the presence of some retired European or Ambonese soldiers. The Government rejected the plan, but still gave the missionaries half the 10,000 Guilders the scheme was budgeted for and two Javanese farmers with an expertise in tobacco cultivation. With these grants the government recognized the pioneering effort of the missionaries in opening up a new and unknown territory, only nominally part of the Dutch East Indies. The Government expected pacification “on the cheap”. This is evidenced by a remark by a government official, a former Resident of Ternate, who said that the Mission had to be considered as failed, as the Papuans did not show much enthusiasm about his arrival in Doreh! The financial support of the government enabled the missionaries to devote most of their time to mission work. However, they remained involved in trading. They bought food cheaply when it was in abundance and sold it at a profit when it was scarce. Papuans considered this unfair. Geissler also bought tortoise shells, trepang or sea cucumber, birds of paradise, copra and mother of pearl shells and exchanged these for cotton, iron, knives, beads, sarongs, mugs, plates and so on. The famous British naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace, who visited the Ottows in 1858, mentioned the difficulties arising when the missionary is a pastor and at the same time a trader who is after a profit from his flock. This was, in his opinion, in contradiction with the Christian message.[4]

 

In 1863 the Utrecht Mission Society (Utrechtse Zendings Vereniging, hence UZV)  began work in New Guinea with the sending of six full time and well trained theologians and artisans as missionaries. J. L. Van Hasselt, his wife S. Hulstaert, Th. F. Klaassen, his wife C. Aarsen and W. Otterspoor were the first of the new type of missionary.[5] The UZV forbade their missionaries to participate in trading. To prevent Moslem traders to fill the gap, and to help the Papuans to get inexpensive and useful commodities the UZV established a special trading committee. This functioned untill 1900 when it was made independent of the mission. There was no trading done on the first day of the week. This was to help Papuans to respect the Day of the Lord. From the beginning the mission did not sell alcoholic drinks or guns to the Papuans. To bring Papuans into their fold, missionaries started to entice young children to go to school. Only by giving presents to the parents children could be kept at the mission school. The curriculum stressed instruction in the Christian religion, apart from reading and writing. To secure attendance at church services the missionaries, initially, had to supply the congregation with tobacco, gambir (ingredient of the betel drug) and sirih (betel). This was stopped by Van Hasselt. There were two services on Sundays, a one hour service at 8 o’clock in the morning and another one at 5 o’clock in the afternoon. There were also daily services at 6 o’clock in the morning. A common method to get converts, though this was not uncontroversial, was to buy slave children to be raised in the household of the missionaries as their step children (“anak piara”). The wisdom of the method was debated, as the buying of slaves could create a new market. In 1880 Mrs Van Hasselt bought a girl for Dfl 60. On the other hand, the freed slave often saved his or her life by getting incorporated in the household of the missionary. Here they did household chores, participated in the house services of the missionaries and were given the opportunity to go to school. Even as late as 1900 Jens defended the method as the only one possible. Another problem of former slaves becoming early converts and then church leaders was that the fact that they had been sold put them in a class of their own, even if they returned to their home village. The church could not grow until it had non-slaves leading it. The first non-slave to be baptized was Timoteus Wirie in 1874. 

 

The message of the missionaries in this period was that the life of the Papuans was dominated by fear for the spirits of the deceased and all kinds of secret powers. The Gospel of Jesus Christ liberates us of all these powers and fears, “because He is more powerful and can protect those who belong to Him”. The missionaries, generally speaking, had a low view of the Papuans and their traditional religion. The Papuans were considered degenerated (“ontaard”). They were seen as having only nebulous ideas, while their energy was seen as limited. They were not aware of  the existence of a class of priests, which would keep the old traditions. Intellectually they saw the Papuans as being at a low level. Their main occupation was “feasting and once more feasting.” By 1880, 25 years after the arrival of the pioneers, only 20 people had been baptized, including those Papuan children adopted by the missionaries. Ten years later, in 1890 Mansinam had 42 full members, 44 baptized children, an average church attendance of 175, school attendance was at 60 and there were 32 catechesis students. In 1892 the mission sent two Papuan students, Petrus Kafiar and Timotheus Awendu, to the Depok Seminary for native missionaries, near Jakarta. They later became teacher-evangelists (guru).

 

   5. Mass conversions and education: 1898-1940

a. Introduction

In 1898 the Dutch colonial government established its first two permanent posts in New Guinea in Manokwari and Fak-Fak, and in 1902 a third one in Merauke. The mission welcomed the establishment of government control. In the words of one of them: “The cruel game is over. Dutch government authority now determines what is lawful. And with it one of the major pillars of paganism has been destroyed.” The Dutch initiative was forced by the threat that Britain, Germany, the United States and even Spain claimed West New Guinea. Spain claimed the Mapia Islands, North of Biak, as part of the Caroline Islands. On Mapia an American copra company had established itself and it had raised the Stars and Stripes. The Dutch intervened by sending a ship to haul the flag down. Government posts served mainly ‘to show the flag’. The establishment of these posts, in an area slightly smaller than France  could not hide the fact that New Guinea remained largely neglected. There was only slight interference with local customs and traditions which the government wanted to replace, like tribal and clan wars, headhunting, witch hunting and capital punishment. It was only the Christian missions that provided rudimentary services in health care and education.

 

b. The UZV and the “Indische Kerk”, 1898-1942

After almost half a century working almost without result the UZV at the North Coast, finally, began to see results. Many Papuans at the beginning of this period began to ask the missionaries for resident teachers and missionaries. Often people converted by way of group conversions, especially around the Cenderawasih Bay (Geelvink Baai). The first wave of conversions started on 1 January 1907 at Roon. Here Yan Ayamiseba, a former slave, died after an accident when cutting a tree. A few days before his death he told that he had a dream where he was allowed entry into heaven, where people with long hair, dressed in white, were seen when passing a door of gold. A dream is an acceptable and authoritative means of communication between the spirit world and the concrete world we live in. Gold replaces iron, which is associated with slavery. Long hair is a symbol of the free Papuans. The abode of the dead, according to the dream is not, as in traditional cosmology under the ground, but high up. This dream proved to be an effective form of contextualisation of the Christian message as brought by the Dutch and German missionaries.

 

Pamai, a Papuan from Ormu, west of Jayapura, brought the gospel to the people in the Sentani area at the end of the 1920s. He was himself illiterate, but taught the people to destroy their Kariwari-masks, after these had been shown to women, which was a taboo. He then taught the people the Lord’s Prayer and the 12 Articles of Faith. Pamai had been sick, he had died and then had appeared for the Lord, who told him that he could not yet enter Heaven before he had brought the Gospel to other people. The 1920s had seen the opening up of Papua economically. Copra, the dried meat of the coconut, fetched then very high prices of up to twelve Guilders a picol (62 kilograms). Moreover the demand for  birds of paradise was so high that many young Papuans left their villages to hunt for them. In the 1930s the world economic crisis led to a decline in demand. The price of copra fell down to only two Guilders a picol. The crisis led to financial difficulties for the mission. The mission then changed its policy of working with salaried local staff. It  decided to work with local Papuans, working as evangelists (“penginjil”), who were given only a minimum of training. They were given extensive responsibilities for the evangelisation work. They received a small allowance, but not a regular salary. The village where they settled had to provide for their livelihood. The evangelists would have their own gardens and take part in hunting. The advantage was that the Gospel was preached in the local Papuan language instead of Malay. The evangelists were taken up in the tribe and lived among the people. By the early 1930s the UZV had extended the area where it worked till the Humboldt Bay. By 1934 the mission counted more than 50,000 Christians, most of them in North New Guinea.

 

 

 

 

Mission

Missionaries

Wives

Pastors[6]

Teachers

Christians

Schools

Pupils

Hospitals – Beds

New Guinea

Indische Kerk

  1

  1

 

 

 

 

 

 

North NG

UZV

12

12

42

153

45,384

131

7,397

1- 30

West NG

UZV

  3

  2

16

  16

  5,869

  26

1,253

Total  for 1934

 

16

15

58

169

51,253

157

8,640

1- 30

 

Table I: The UZV and the “Indische Kerk” in 1934

 

When J. van Hasselt retired in 1932, after serving 38 years in New Guinea he complained that, increasingly, he had to fight on a front, that he did not like, “I mean the Roman infiltration and penetration.”  Rivalry and conflicts between the Protestant mission and the Roman Catholic mission that did not recognize a separation of mission areas was till the 1950s a common pattern in West Papua. The UZV expanded in this period its educational system. The gurus often had the dual role of teaching during weekdays the school children and leading the church service on Sundays. There were from the 1930s about 30 “classes” (presbyteries) and twelve “resorts”. Between 1924 and 1942 the number of village schools with a three years’ program increased from 71 to 300. The number of congregations was the same. Areas were opened by sending an evangelist or guru, who opened a village school and at the same time a candidate congregation or a congregation. In 1937 the schools had about 10,000 pupils.  There was one upper primary school (grades 4 and 5) with 50 pupils and one vocational school with nine students. For more advanced education the most promising pupils were sent to Java. The GPM created two presbyteries in the South, the South Papua presbytery covering the Merauke area and the West Papua presbytery covering the areas of Mimika and Merauke. By 1937 there were 76 congregations in North and West New Guinea, but only three in South New Guinea where the Catholics dominated.

Medical work was limited. The missionaries provided elementary medical care from their mission posts. Serui had a mission hospital with a trained nurse in 1910, but closed in 1914. Only in 1932 a doctor was sent to the hospital in Serui on Yapen Island in the Cenderawasih Bay. Korido in Western Biak had a smaller hospital. Since 1936 there was also a hospital looking after leprosy patients.

 

c. The Roman Catholic Mission, 1902-1942

Roman Catholics had been discriminated against in the Dutch East Indies. In the VOC period Catholic mission were seen as linked with Portuguese claims to East Indonesia and Catholic mission was forbidden outside the island of Flores. The situation changed in 1854, when the government recognized the Roman Catholic Church in Holland and allowed it to re-establish its Episcopal hierarchy in the Netherlands. In the same year the Apostolic Vicariate of Batavia, which included the whole of the Dutch East Indies, got Mgr. Jac. Grooff as its new bishop. Roman Catholic mission work in New Guinea began in 1894 when the Jesuit Cornelis le Cocq d’Armandville came from Seram to Fak-Fak, where he baptized 73 people after staying there for only ten days. He established in 1895 a mission station in Kapaur, Ayer Besar, east of Fak-Fak, with a school with the protestant Chr. Pelletimu as a teacher. The station was closed after the sudden death of Le Cocq the following year. All mission work needed the permission of the government. New Guinea was divided into spheres of demarcation. The Governor General did not allow the Catholics to establish themselves in Fak-Fak, Inanwatan and in Berau, as this was “protestant area”. This decision was based on article 123 of the Governmental Regulations (Regeringsreglement, since 1925 Article 177 of the Indies’ Government Regulations or Indische Staatsregeling), which stipulated that the establishment of mission posts needed the permission by the Governor-General. In 1912 a separation line had been drawn to separate the Roman Catholic and the Protestant missions. The Catholics were not allowed North of the 4 degrees 30 seconds SB meridian. They considered the rule as unfair and continued to claim Fak-Fak and parts of the Bird’s Head, based on the visits by Le Cocq between 1894 and 1896. They referred to an agreement between the Netherlands and the Holy See of 1848 that gave the Catholics the right to move freely in Ambon and other places of the Moluccas.

 

In 1902 the Catholics established the Vicariate of  Netherlands New Guinea, separated from the Apostolic Vicariate of Batavia, with Mgr. Dr. Matthias Neijens as Apostolic Prefect, who was based in Langgur on the Kei Islands. It included, apart from South and West New Guinea, Biak and Numfor, the Kei Islands, the Tanimbar Islands, Banda, Saparua, Seram, Halmahera and other islands of the Moluccas. The Jesuits had worked for 14 years with success on the Kei Islands. The Kei remained an important source for teachers-catechists (gurus). The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (MSC) based in Tilburg, the Netherlands, provided the pioneer missionaries for the Southern part of Dutch New Guinea. In 1905 the MSC Brothers Melchior Oomen and Dion. van Roessel and the Fathers H. Nollen and Phil. Braun came to Merauke. Br. Oomen died the next year, while van Roessel and Braun left Merauke for Kei in 1906. Fr. Nollen also left for the more promising Kei in 1909. Fr. Vertenten served the longest in the area. From 1910 to1915 he served in Okaba, which is situated 60 km west of Merauke, and from 1915 to 1925 in Merauke.

 

At the constant pressure of the mission the government began action against headhunting. In 1907 the Marind-anim had been punished by the Government for head hunting, but this was not effective as they again made head hunting raids on a large scale in 1911. In 1913 the Government took stern action against head hunting, acts of revenge, burying people alive and infanticide. In the same year Fr Jos van de Kolk developed the idea of a model kampung (village) in Okaba. In 1914 Merauke got its model kampung. The aim of this idea was to enforce a radical change of life of the Marind-anim in order to save them from extinction by the venereal granuloma. Fertility rituals like the otiv bombari which implied sexual promiscuity were forbidden by the government as well as by the mission. This venereal disease had only recently been introduced, most likely by Australian workers who helped building the Merauke government station and who had casual sexual relations with Marind anim women. It was traditional that many male members of the husband’s clan after the marriage had the duty to have intercourse with the bride on the first night. This led to infertility due to a rupture of the uterus. Life in the model kampong, which could be easily controlled by the mission, would make these practices more difficult to do. In 1914 World War I broke out. This made the funding of the mission more difficult and as a consequence all mission stations were closed except Merauke, where Fr. Petr. Vertenten and Brothers. J. Joosten and H. van Santvoort stayed.

 

The post-war Spanish influenza pandemic of 1919 proved another disaster for the people of the South Coast of New Guinea. Almost one in five people died because of it. Soon after this disaster Fr Vertenten began an active publicity campaign to press for an active and intensive interference of the government in the life of the Marind-anim in order to prevent the total extinction of the tribe. The Government gave in and began to support the establishing of “model villages” by the mission and the building of mission schools. The young Marind-anim were completely taken out of their natural environment and raised under strict mission control in boarding schools. Here they were, initially, forced to wear Western clothes. The German anthropologist Paul Wirz strongly criticized the policy of the mission as it could only be implemented by using considerable violence. In 1922 and 1923 the mission posts of Okaba and Wendu were re-established, while a new post at Wambi was established. In 1926 the mission opened the Mimika area from Lunggu.. In the same year the Government established a post in Kokonao. The Catholics established a mission post there the next year. In 1929 the mission established itself in Fak-Fak. This move led to a serious conflict with the Protestant mission. According to the Catholics Sakertemin, a village near Fak-Fak, had asked the mission permission to become Catholic, on the basis of the visit of Le Cocq almost three decades earlier. Action by Roman Catholic politicians in Holland, informed by the mission about the issue, led in principle to the abolition of the separation line to prevent “dubbele zending.”  At a Conference in Ambon between UZV and the RC Mission the Governor of the Moluccas, however, still objected to the Catholics moving to the Bird’s Head, Waropen and the area around Hollandia (Jayapura) for security reasons. The Protestant mission consul, based in Batavia was also present at the meeting. He argued that if the Catholics would move into Protestant areas the Protestants would have the right to move into the Catholic area of South New Guinea. Not much later a teacher from the Protestant Church of the Moluccas (Gereja Protestan Maluku, hence the GPM), arrived in Kokonao, where the Catholics had just opened a station. This led to a strong competition in the building of schools. Finally, in 1928 Fr Cappers got permission to move to West New Guinea, with the exception of the Bird’s Head. By that time the UZV had already seven schools in the Fak-Fak area. In that year the MSC got help from the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (FDNSC), an order like the MSC established by the French father Jules Chevalier, based in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Two years later the UZV handed its mission work around Fak-Fak, Kaimana and the Arguni Bay over to the GPM. In 1931 there was a conflict in the Bintuni Bay, where a Roman Catholic teacher was removed by police after working there for five months. In 1932, at the educational Conference at Tual, the Protestants proposed that the GPM would leave Merauke if the Roman Catholics would be prepared to leave the Bird’s Head. This was unacceptable for Bishop Aerts.  But Bishop Aerts promised that the catholic mission would not enter an area in which the protestants were already intensively working.

 

In 1936 the Roman Catholic Mission got the right from the Governor-General to establish missions anywhere. The next year the Catholics established their first school in the Bird’s Head in Manehui. In the same year 1937 the Dutch Franciscans entered the mission in New Guinea. Five Franciscans priests and one brother established themselves in Fak Fak, Babo, Ternate and Manokwari. Fak Fak had then 700 baptized members and fifteen schools. Babo is the place where the New Guinea Oil Company (NG Petroleum Maatschappij) found oil. It built houses, offices, a hospital and a laboratory. The company employed one hundred people from Kei, who had their own resident priest. From Babo he served eight villages. In 1937 the GPM had to withdraw from Mimika because of  a shortage of funds.

 

In 1938 the commander of the field police, J. P. K. van Eechoud, one of the few Roman Catholic civil servants, organized a government expedition to Paniai, which Fr. Tillemans  joined, because Fr. Tillemans had been a member of the original party of Bijlmer, the first expedition into the Highlands. On the basis of this visit the Catholics claimed the Me area and the area of the Moni. (Dit is onjuist: ongeveer tegelijkertijd met de missie kwam ook de CAMA isn dit gebied. Na overleg met  V. de Bruyn werd besloten tot een voorlopige verdeling te komen. Zie o.a. De Bruyn, Het verdwenen volk. In 1940 the Franciscans established a mission school in Arso, east of Jayapura, with Otto Suarabun as a teacher. 50 Children went to school there. The area had been opened by the government in  May 1939. In 1942 the first school children were baptized there.

By 1940 the mission had in South New Guinea Merauke and five other stations, 16 sub-stations, eight churches, 30 elementary schools and a Papuan community of about 2,800. In West New Guinea and Mimika there were then two hospitals, two dispensaries, 173 schools and 10 other institutions serving about 1,600 Catholics.

 

5. The War and post war development: 1942-1962.

a. Introduction

In May 1940 the German armies occupied the Netherlands. This led to the disruption of the communication with the mission headquarters. In April 1942 the Japanese landed in New Guinea and soon conquered most of it, except Merauke and Boven-Digul. In May 1943 the Japanese occupied the area of Paniai, where Dr. J. V. de Bruyn still had continued his work as “controleur” (district officer). All European missionaries and other Europeans, except those with German nationality, were interned and forcibly moved to POW camps in East Indonesia. The Japanese executed on 30 July 1942 15 missionaries of the Sacred Heart in Langgur, Kei, including the Vicar Apostolic Bishop Johannes Aerts. Earlier Fr. A. Guikers OFM was executed in Ransiki near Manokwari. The missionaries in Merauke Regency, which was never occupied, just continued to do their work.

 

The church had now to stand on its own and it, increasingly, became self sufficient. The Japanese occupation led to hardships for the Papuans as they were forced to work to build air fields and roads without compensation. The Japanese dealt harshly with any opposition or perceived opposition. Angganita Menufandu led a salvation movement on the North Coast. She had appointed herself as Queen of New Guinea and had also an army. She was arrested and beheaded by the Japanese in 1942. The Simson movement, led by Somlena from Tablanusa in the Depapre area West of present day Jayapura had some Christian elements, but it practiced communication with the spirits of the deceased on graveyards. This movement was equally harshly repressed. Its leader was arrested and probably executed by the Japanese in Jayapura. Gurus were sometimes forced to join the Japanese police. The Japanese language replaced Dutch at the schools.

 

In April 1944 the Americans landed at Jayapura (Hollandia). From September 1944 to March 1945 General Douglas MacArthur had his headquarters for the New Guinea and the Philippines campaign in Hollandia at Ifar Gunung. By July 1944 the Japanese were defeated in New Guinea after several fierce battles. Under the aegis of the Allied command the Dutch government returned to New Guinea as NICA (Netherlands Indies Civil Administration) with its headquarters in Kampung Harapan (Kota Nica) halfway between Sentani and Abepura. Most of Indonesia remained occupied by the Japanese until 15 August 1945. The Dutch government was not able to return there until the beginning of 1946.

 

The Government had not been very active to develop West Papua and the Papuans. In 1947 Netherlands New Guinea became a residency, separated from Ternate (the North) and from Ambon (the South). After the handing over of the sovereignty of Indonesia to the Federal Republic of Indonesia (RIS) in December 1949 New Guinea was left outside the Indonesian Republic. The Dutch Government now began in earnest to develop the area and to assist with the advancement of the Papuans, considering itself the mandatory power of the United Nations. The Papuans were being prepared for self determination. Missions received large grants in aid to set up an educational system and to initiate medical work. Hundreds of teachers and medical staff were recruited in the Netherlands. From 1938 onwards West Papua had known a so called “civilization school” (“beschavingsschool”). The aim was “to civilize” the Papuans with subjects like order and hygiene, playing, flute playing, singing, the preparation of parties, dancing, school gardens, basket weaving and  the Three Rs. From 1945 onwards “people’s schools” (Volksscholen) were founded with a more academic curriculum of Malay, reading, drawing, reading, writing, singing, flute playing and handicraft. After seven?? years Volksschool (? Ik dacht dat officieel de Volksschool drie jaar duurde, waarna de VVS kon volgen. Dat levered tesamen het niveau van de lagere school, althans dat was de bedoeling)the best pupils could continue to a Vervolgschool, hence VVS, which provided in a three years course basic secondary(??) education. The Protestants were at an advantage as they had more and better schools. , so more of their pupils could continue to further education. At the VVS a Papuan elite was being formed. Here Papuans were selected for further studies to become teacher, police officer or government official, and also those Papuans were trained, who later represented the Territory at international conferences like those of the South Pacific. In the 1950s there was a strong effort by the Catholics to catch up with the Protestants in the area of education.

 

b. The Reformed Mission and the GKI

In the post war period in the Reformed Mission devolution took place, with more and more responsibilities being handed over to the Papuans. In 1954 a  theological school was established in Serui on Yapen Island by Rev. Isaac Kijne to train Papuans as ministers. In 1956 the Evangelical Christian Church (Gereja Kristen Injili di Nederlandsch Nieuw Guinea, GKI) was inaugurated, to become independent of mission control. The mission of the Dutch Mennonite Mission Association (Doopsgezinde Zendingsvereniging, DZV), active in the Bird’s Head peninsula also joined the new church. It was symptomatic that at the inauguration of the new church only the Moluccan Church (GPM) recognized the new GKI. The Roman Catholic Church recognized it later, but the other Reformed and the Evangelical missions did not recognize the GKI. This means that they would not object to do mission work among GKI adherents. The conservative Reformed missions considered the GKI “not faithful to the Bible.” The Evangelical missions considered the GKI in fact pagan or at most syncretistic. Both type of missions were very anti-Catholic.

 

Between 1956 and 1962 the relations between the Netherlands and Indonesia heated up on the issue of New Guinea, which Indonesia claimed as Indonesian territory. The Dutch Mission of the Netherlands Reformed Church (ZNHK or “Oegstgeest”), the post war successor of the UZV, was ambivalent on the issue. By and large it supported the Indonesian claim to New Guinea as the mission still had interests in Indonesia. Moreover, some leading Dutch theologians with an Indonesian work experience, like Johannes Verkuyl (Salatiga), Hendrick Kraemer and Henk Visch (Bali), strongly identified with the nationalist case of the Republic of Indonesia, which claimed West Papua in order “to finish the revolution.”  Their views were strongly opposed by most of the Papuans and by the Dutch missionaries and teachers working in New Guinea. They supported the Dutch government in its effort to grant, in the long run, independence to the Papuans, separate from the Republic. When the Indonesian economy began to decline in the mid 1950s and when in 1957 Soekarno proclaimed Indonesia as a “guided” democracy, had himself appointed himself as a president “for life” and the army began to play a more prominent political role it became even less attractive for the Papuans to join the Indonesian Republic.

 

In the GKI there was only a small, but vocal minority that was pro-Indonesian. It came from Serui where Dr. Sam Ratulangi, a medical doctor and Indonesian freedom fighter from the Minahasa, had spent his banishment from 1946 to 1948. Here he could easily influence many future leaders of the Papuans, as Serui was an educational centre. Only later, when it seemed inevitable, the GKI under Rev. Rumainum, the first chairman of Synod, began to support the “integration” of West New Guinea into the Unitary Indonesian Republic. However, a leading missionary like Dr Freerk Kamma, gave up his position as a missionary in April 1961 to join full time the New Guinea Council, the forerunner of a Papuan parliament. Kamma represented the inhabitants of the eastern Highlands. Izaak Samuel Kijne, the Dutch educationalist, had written a number of school books, where the Papuan identity was stressed, like “Itu Dia”. His reading book “Kota Mas” (the Golden City) became very popular, as it linked up a Christian story with elements of  basic myths of the Papuans. Kijne also composed “Hai Tanahku Papua” (Oh My Land Papua), what became the Papuan national anthem in 1961, published in the booklet “Seruling Mas” (the Golden Flute).

 

 

 

               “Ressort”

Presbyteries

Congregations

          

 Candidate congregations

 

 

Members

Ministers

Guru Jemaat

 

Evangelists

  1. Hollandia-Nimboran

4

100

25

24,000

8

100

23

  1. Sarmi

3

37

18

5,663

4

35

18

  1. Yapen-Waropen

5

70

20

26,000

6

110

20

  1. Biak-Numfor

6

122

34,000

8

130

  1. Manokwari

6

56

29

5,436

3

60

30

  1. Miei-Nabire

5

60

10,000

2

56

  1. Sorong-Bintuni

14

60

70

17,000

4

100

70

  1. Teminabuan

2

55

20

2,655

3

50

20

  1. Inanwatan

2

12

5

3,655

2

17

5

  1. Dutch speaking presbytery

1

8

3,000

8

              Total

45

580

187

131,409

48

658

186

 

Table III: The GKI when founded in 1956

 

c. The Catholic Mission, 1942-1962

Most of the colonial civil servants were Protestant. Roman Catholics felt at times that they were treated in an unfair way. When the Catholic Jan van Eechoud became Resident (Governor) in 1947, the Protestants accused him of favouring the Catholics by allowing them to move into the Baliem valley.Dit is onjuist: Alle missionarissen werd verboden om de Baliemvallei te betreden. Fr. Kammerer, die vanuit Paniai probeerde de Baliem te bereiken. is niet verder geweest dan de grens. Pas nadat eerst de CAMA in 1954, en daarna het bestuur in 1956 waren gevestigd in de Baliem kwam de katholieke missie in 1957. There were again Protestant protests when in 1951 the Catholics established a higher secondary school (Hogere Burgerschool, HBS) in Jayapura, the first of that kind in the Territory. Many considered this form of education too advanced for the Papuans. In 1957 this school became a joint Roman Catholic and Protestant venture.

 

In Sorong where the oil had brought many migrants, among whom were Catholics, the mission opened a primary boarding school and a lower secondary school. In 1948 the Mission Sisters of  the Precious Blood, also called the Sisters of  Tienray, the Netherlands, went to Sorong and Fak-Fak to help in opening boarding schools for girls there. The next year the mission went to Sausopor, though several villages had already a Protestant church there. In 1949 the Franciscan mission was separated from the Vicariate of New Guinea to form the Apostolic Prefecture Hollandia with Fr. A. Cremers as Apostolic Prefect. Ternate and Halmahera became part of the new Vicariate Apostolic of Amboina. In 1950 the Vicariate Merauke was separated from the Vicariate of Amboina. The Vicariate of Merauke, with Fr. H. Tillemans as Apostolic Vicar, served South New Guinea, while the Vicariate of Holandia served North and West New Guinea, which included the Bird’s Head. By 1952 there were priests in Enarotali, Waghete, the Kamu plains, Mappi and Epouto on the Tage Lake, where the Sisters of the Franciscan Third Order, a lay institute, from Brummen, the Netherlands, established a boarding school for girls. Catechists from Mimika and Paniai assisted in this mission work.  In 1953 the Vicariate of Jayapura had 39 Franciscan Friars. There were 102 Catholic village schools, with 130 teachers and 3,500 pupils. Three quarters of the schools received government grants in aid. There was a General Primary School that used Dutch as medium of instruction. Sorong and Fak-Fak had also such an “Algemene Lagere School” with 400 pupils. In that year five Sisters from Heerlen came to work in Enarotali, Biak(??Daar zijn in die tijd nooit zusters geweest. De zusters van Heerlen zijn begonnen in Kokonao, en later naar Enarotali gekomen. Rond 1960 is er een zuster naar Biak gekomen, en nog later, 1968 in Jayapura. Daar waren toen al zusters van Bennebroek ) and Jayapura. The same year the Augustinian fathers began work in an area South of Jayapura.(De augustijner paters werkten samen met de franciscanen.In 1957 namen zij de zorg voor de Vogelkop over van de franciscanen. Later werd dit het bisdom Manokwari/Sorong) In 1958 the Catholics opened a lower secondary school (Primaire Middelbare School, hence PMS) in Hollandia, which had already a Protestant PMS.

 

In 1956 the Dutch order of the Brothers of Our Lady of the Seven Dolours or “Broeders van Voorhout” (hence CSD) established itself in Kepi and in the Mappi area. The brothers introduced a regional project with an agricultural centre in Mappi. This Welfare Plan Mappi and the Regional Plan, which encouraged the cultivation of cocoa and rubber, were joint ventures of the mission and the government. Efforts were made at contextualisation of the Gospel. There was a collective planting day, which was a religious festival with a Eucharist in the gardens, the blessing of oil palm nuts and coconuts, the receiving of guests and singing and dancing. The Yah’ray (or Yaqay), however, refused to take part in the project as in their opinion it only benefited the mission and the government.  In 1957 the Brothers established a Vervolgschool in Muyu.

 

In 1958 the Dutch MSC handed over the area of Asmat to the Crosier Fathers and Brothers (the Canons Regular of the Order of the Holy Cross) from America. In 1969 the Asmat Mission became the Diocese of Agats with Alphonsus Sowada OSC as its first bishop. The Crosier Fathers concentrated on the preservation of the Asmat culture and the contextualisation of the Gospel. Without head hunting, which was forbidden by the Government, the traditional culture was doomed. The Mission encouraged woodcarving independent of headhunting. A museum of Asmat art was built in Agats and the marketing of the art promoted. This provided a livelihood and pride in their work to the artists and to the Asmat in general.

To the South of Waris the Franciscans opened two stations, one in Amgotro and another one in Ubrub in 1952-1954. Between 1957 and 1959 the Franciscan Mission in Paniai expanded its work into the Moni area in Kemandora and Dugiundora, among the Amungme in Tsingga, Nuemba, towards Ilaga, the Dani area of the Baliem Valley and towards Sibil in the Star Mountains. In this period the Catholic mission began to build its first airstrips. The Association Mission Aviation, AMA, was founded, which bought its first aircraft in 1958. In 1959 Manokwari became a Prefecture Apostolic with Dutch Augustinians in charge. Fr. Petrus van Diepen OSA was its first Apostolic Prefect. Ten fathers worked in five stations in Manokwari, Sorong, Ayawasi-Fuog, Tintum-Ases and Bintuni or Steenkool, which had replaced Babo as the main population centre in the Bintuni Gulf. The area had then 4,000 Catholics, half of them Papuans.

After the Second Vatican Council the Catholics became more open to co-operation with other churches in the area of human rights action, education and also ecumenism. For instance in 1969 the Roman Catholic Church and the GKI made an agreement of mutual recognition of the sacrament of baptism.

 

c. The Evangelical and conservative Protestant missions

The Christian and Missionary Alliance (CAMA) from America began work in Paniai already in 1939, when it established a post in Enarotali. In August 1942 it had its first conversion of 16 Mee people. In May 1943 the Americans Walter Post, Einar Mickelson and the Mee Christian Zakheus Pakage, one of the early converts, were airlifted out of the Paniai region to Australia, just before the Japanese entered the area. The Japanese destroyed mission property and church buildings. In 1947 the first Mee were baptized. In 1952 the first Me left the Bible school to be ordained as ministers (pendetas). In 1954 CAMA began work in the Baliem Valley among the Dani, where it used its own water plane to enter the area, inaccessible by land road. In 1956 CAMA moved to the Ilaga Valley and to the Beoga valley to work among the Moni and Damai people. In 1962 130 Danis were baptized in the station at Pyramid.

 

In this period we see the emergence and of several messianistic or salvation movements. The concept “cargo cults” explains in an unsatisfactory way the interaction between traditional religious attitudes and Christianity. In a way these new religious movements form a specific Papuan response to the message of the Gospel. These movements may promise immediate and concrete rewards of conversion. However, the churches are doing something similar, enticing Papuans with small gifts, like tobacco and betel nuts. The Papuans get education and health services only through the mission. They can get paid jobs and new responsibilities and positions of authority. Through the church they get the opportunity to travel and meet other people and meet marriage partners outside their own clan and/or language group. These are all concrete benefits of conversion. During the period under review we see numerous religious movements which emerge inside and outside the established churches. Some of these movements are a form of protest, while others try to re-establish a group or tribal identity. This is the case of the Wege Bage movement, established by Zakheus Pakage, in the Paniai area.

 

Zakheus Pakage had studied for the ministry in Makassar from 1946 to 1950 sponsored by the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CAMA), which is active in the Paniai area. On his return to Paniai the people of Tigi, in the southern part of the Paniai regency, asked CAMA to send Zakheus to teach them, though this area was given exclusively to the Catholics in 1939. Zakheus drew there great crowds of people. It led to a great revival and to fetish burnings. In 1951 he began, however, to experience opposition from those people who had accepted Catholicism, especially from the headmen who felt their position threatened.  In that year tribal wars took place. According to some people it was the Catholics who started spreading false rumours about Zakheus, as he was working with success in “their” area. He was several times arrested accused of stirring up people against the government. In October 1951 Zakheus was arrested accused of instructing his brother Jordan Pakage to burn houses and to kill pigs. Much of the local opposition came from Weakebo, a leader of the Mote clan, a rival clan of the Pakage clan of Zakheus. In 1951 Zakheus began to ask his followers to make a complete break with their non-Christian past by moving to separate villages, the so called Wege Bage communities. Wege Bage is a nickname given to the Zakheus communities as it means “the disruptors of peace and order”, “those who bring chaos.” In 1952, after a conflict with CAMA missionaries Zakheus was declared mentally ill. He was taken to the mental hospital in Abepura. Only in 1958 he could return to Paniai, but sent back to Sentani in 1963. He died there in 1970. Though Zakheus had passed away, the movement still exists and it is growing. It sees itself as the national church of the Me people of Paniai. The Wege Bage try to reconcile their traditional Me religion with the Gospel. In their idea God already existed before Christianity came to Paniai. The teachings of Zakheus are seen as the lost Bible of the Me. Zakheus is Koyeidaba, the Me Messiah, who has returned. There is, basically, in their view no difference between Me traditional religion and Christianity. [7]

 

Conversion to Christianity (as led by the CAMA) in the Highlands took often place in the form of mass conversions, going together with an apparent complete break with traditional religion, as amulets, holy stones, masks and other sacred objects were destroyed. Missionaries had an ambivalent attitude towards this phenomenon. Was this really inspired by the Holy Spirit? What could have been the motivations for conversion even before the most elementary principles of Christian doctrine had been taught? The type of conversion shows similarities with that of the “koreri” and independent church movements mentioned above. Conversion can be related to elements in the social structure of traditional society. In Paniai conversion was the result of a strategy by local Big Men to settle their conflicts with Big Men of rival clans. For instance the conversion of Weakebo, a Big Man of the Mote clan was in the context of a rivalry with the Pakage clan about land use in the Tigi district. In the same way particular clans choose to join the Roman Catholic Church, the independent Wege Bage movement or the Evangelical Tabernacle Church (Gereja Kemah Injili di Indonesia, hence GKII). In one such move one Big Man could have many of his sons trained as a minister or a teacher and his daughters getting married to ministers. In this way he could, through the mission and the church, enormously increase his power of patronage. (In the areas where the catholic missionaries worked there was never mentioning of a mass conversion movement, except at the Amungmè. And even there, it went in a very orderly way, without much burning of fetish). As far as I know, it  occurred only at the Western Dani. See Douglas Hayward, The Dani before and after conversion)

 

6. Confrontation, appeasement and Freedom: 1962 to 2004

Under strong political pressure of the Kennedy administration, the Dutch government concluded the New York Agreement in August 1962, when it was on the brink of war with Indonesia, which had mobilized all its troops. Papuans did not participate in this agreement. The Dutch handed over the administration of the territory by 1 October of that year to the United Nations. The UN, in turn, handed its administration to Indonesia on 1 May 1963. Not later then 1969 the Papuans would get an opportunity to express their opinion about the integration with Indonesia in a UN supervised “Act of Free Choice”.

 

a. Adaptation to Indonesian rule

From the very beginning in October 1962 the Indonesian army behaved more like an army of occupation than like one that had liberated the Papuans from an oppressive colonial power. The army claimed the land and its people by right of conquest. It tried to wipe out completely any traces of the Dutch presence in government and education. All schools had to destroy their textbooks in Dutch. From one day to the other teaching and examinations had to change from Dutch to Malay (Indonesian or Bahasa Indonesia). All textbooks of the Dutch period were replaced by those used in the rest of Indonesia, though the stories were in no way appropriate to the culture and scenery of New Guinea. Papuan children had to learn about a Javanese boy named Ahmed and about volcanoes, trains and railways stations. The educated Papuans in church, the educational system, commerce and government were suspected of being pro-Dutch and, by implication, anti-Indonesian. In the security approach of the Indonesian army this meant that these were people declared to be the “enemies.” In December 1962 there was a night raid on the dormitories of the Teacher Training College, the Civil Servants school (“Bestuursschool”), the Agricultural College and the Christian schools in Kota Raja in Jayapura, led by Indonesian soldiers, using pro-Indonesian groups. Students were beaten up and then transported to the military camp at Ifar Gunung, where they were imprisoned.  A considerable group of respected Papuans ended up in prison or were killed. Among them were Eliezer Jan Bonay, the first governor of Irian Barat (Irian Jaya, West Papua), Rev. G. A. Lanta, the former vice-chairman of the Synod of the GKI, Rev. Silas Chaay, secretary of the GKI, Rev. Osok of the Moi tribe of the Bird’s Head, Saul Hindom, who had studied in Utrecht and was the leader of Shell in Biak, Hank Yoka, the former secretary of the New Guinea Council, Alfeus Yoku, a leader from Sentani and David Hanasbey, inspector of police in Jayapura. Permenas Yoku, a teacher in Sentani, was killed at the end of 1963, because he refused to sign a pro-Indonesian declaration[8] Johan Ariks, former chairman of the Papua delegation at the Round Table Conference in 1949, died, at the age of 70, in Manokwari prison, after a speech he held on 1 July 1965, which was considered  to be anti-Indonesian. It was a policy of the intelligence department to eliminate in a secret way anybody suspected of having links with people who wanted to overthrow the Indonesian Government.[9] According to conservative estimates about 100,000 Papuans have been killed by the Indonesian army and police since 1962.

 

Dutch missionaries and teachers were allowed to stay. However, almost all Dutch Protestant missionaries and teachers left before the end of 1962. This meant a considerable loss. In 1956 of the 31 ministers still 13 were Dutch missionaries. In 1961 there were still 137 Dutch teachers, while the theological college had four Dutch lecturers. Rev. Tjakraatmadja from West Java was sent and supported by the mission to teach in the college. The Dutch speaking presbytery of the GKI was abolished at the emergency meeting of Synod in 1962. The Dutch Franciscans, the Augustinians, the Crosier Fathers and Brothers, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and the Dutch Sisters stayed. All bishops and the archbishop were then Dutch. Most Dutch Catholic missionaries later opted for Indonesian citizenship when it was offered. The first Papuan bishop, Mgr. John Philip Saklil from Kampung Umar, Kokonao, West Timika, Mimika Regency was consecrated bishop of the new diocese of Timika, separated from the diocese of Jayapura, in April 2004. 

 

The churches had to adapt to work under an Indonesian government which had clear Moslem sympathies in the way it spend government grants to religions. 80 % of the government grants to religions went to the Moslems, though in West Papua they were only a tiny minority. The transmigration program of the government led to an influx of Moslems, who occupied the senior posts in government and administration. There is also the iron-fisted approach of the army and police (ABRI) towards any, even innocent, opposition to Indonesian rules and regulations. Any feeling of a separate identity, like “Papuaness”, was discouraged or even punished. Arnold Ap, director of the Museum of Anthropology of the Cenderawasih University, introduced Papua hymns in Christian worship. He was accused of introducing war songs in order to lead the GKI against the Indonesian army. He was killed by the Indonesian army, on 26 April 1984 together with Eddie Mofu, his fellow musician of the group Mambesak.[10] Another Papuan intellectual and leader, Thomas Wanggai, died in 1996 in a Javanese prison, after being convicted to life imprisonment for raising a home made flag of the fictitious “Republic of Western Melanesia”. Theys Eluay, chairperson of the Presidium of the Papua Council (PDP), who used Christian metaphors in his peaceful struggle for Papuan freedom, was killed in November 2001 by Kopassus soldiers.

 

The police and army kept a close watch on the leadership of the Church. Not even the slightest criticism on the conduct of the Indonesian army was acceptable. When the Synod complained in 1963 that the Indonesian army took away almost everything, even empty bottles, to Java, the synod council was strongly reprimanded and accused of anti-Indonesian activities. Critical voices from the Roman Catholic Church were also silenced. Fr. Haripranoto Haripranata SJ, for instance, had to leave West-Papua in 1970.b. The GKI

The GKI, the largest church, was in fact more or less the “established” church in the Dutch period. Many of the Dutch government officers were members, while most of the Papuan civil servants and police were also members. Now the GKI had to develop a theology of adaptation and collaboration to survive. The fifth synod meeting of 1968 in Jayapura was crucial as Indonesia wanted to collect support for the Act of Free Choice[11] in 1969, which at all costs had to go in favour of Indonesia. Rev. Tjakraatmadja, said at the opening that everybody is collected in Christ, (Col. 3, 11) because Jesus Christ has died for everybody. Christ has endured the free choice, which is the cross of Golgotha. In that he was already the implementer of the “act of free choice” for the salvation of all people who have faith. That the Church obeys and accepts the government is based on Romans 13. Illuminated by the Word of God it rejects the idea that the voice of the people is the voice of God as satanic qualities have overpowered humankind.[12]  The implication seems to be that participation in the act of free choice will bring the cross, that is suffering, for the Papuan people. Rev. I. Mori was then the chairman of synod, succeeding Rev. F. J. S. Rumainum who had served more than eleven years as chairman. At this synod meeting the chairperson of the DGI, the Indonesian Christian Council, Lieutenant-general (ret.) T. B. Simatupang, explained the advantages of the Pancasila ideology as a way of protection of religious minorities. With this chairman, who was still considered to be one of the military, the conduct of the army in Irian Jaya since 1962 could not be discussed. Synod delegates who criticized the stand of Simatupang at the synod meeting got later a visit at home by soldiers, who threatened them as they had shown disrespect to a former army officer. The Military Commander of Irian Jaya-Maluku, present at the synod meeting, told the synod that the Dutch were to blame as it was their heritage that  the Papuans were afraid for the Indonesians by making them believe that the Indonesians would make the Papuans (1) poor, (2) communist and (3) expose them to islamisation! 

 

Within this context it is clear that the GKI at synod or diocesan level hardly had the possibility to criticize the government or the army. This is probably because in the official, compulsory ideology of Panca Sila the state, that is the government, is identified with society. Religion is viewed as a branch of government. All five recognized religions had to include respect to the Panca Sila as their basis (“azas”), notwithstanding the feeble protests of the Fellowship of the Indonesian Churches (Persekutuan Gereja-Gereja Indonesia, PGI) that they had already Jesus Christ as their basis. The only realistic way to survive was to support the Indonesian effort at integration of the Papuans with the risk of the loss of one’s identity. According to Hermann Saud, chairman of synod of the GKI, since 1996, Papuans as Christians, willingly, have to sacrifice their aspiration for independence, because their desire for independence legitimizes a military presence in West Papua, which in turn leads to the killing of Papuans. As a Christian we have to sacrifice in order to get life. The Church can not change the Indonesian reality that the Government has the people, and not, as in western countries, that the people have a government. The harsh reality is that Papuans are considered the property of Indonesia.[13] We see that church leaders, who for pragmatic reasons support the Indonesian government and army policy in West-Papua, are rewarded with appointments in government. Rev. Rumainum, synod chairman from 1956 till 1968, was a candidate for the governorship, at the time of his sudden death in January 1968. Rev. Maloali, synod chairman from 1971 till 1977, became Chairman of the provincial parliament for Golkar. Rev. J. Mamoribo became chairman of the provincial council and deputy governor. Rev D. Prawar became chairman of the council of the Sorong regency, while the Reverends. N. Apaserai, Z. Rumere, Lukas Sobarofek and F. Ondi became members of a council of a regency (kabupaten).  Rev. Wim Rumsarwir, synod chairman from 1988 to 1996, became member of the national parliament for Golkar at the elections of 1997. The ambivalence of these ministers turned politician is clear as Rev. Rumsarwir was also a member of the Team of 100, which demanded independence from Indonesia in February 1999. He was an active member in the committee that demanded a far-going form of autonomy from parliament in 2001, including control of the army and prosecution of human rights violations in West Papua.

At the activities in the context of the struggle for freedom, like the Musyawarah Besar (Mubes, the Great Debate) in 1999 and the Papua Congress in 2000, church ministers played an important role. In the present conditions it is, virtually, only ministers who can maintain more or less their independence as they are paid by the people, and not the government. The church, especially the GKI, gets involved in politics if it gets the chance. In October 1999 the GKI, encouraged by the new freedom of the “reformation” period after the fall of Soeharto, made a political statement when it rejected the division of the province of  Papua into three smaller provinces. The church claimed to speak on behalf of “the people of West Papua”. The statement was signed by Rev. Herman Awom as vice-chairman of synod.  At the parliamentary elections of 2004 as many as 80 candidates in West Papua were ministers. To maintain its distance from the state those elected are suspended from their office as a minister, though they do not loose the right to preach.  By 2002 the GKI claimed to have about 800,000 members in over one thousand congregations, served by 400 ministers. It had an annual budget of Rp 4 billion (€ 400,000), which makes it a fairly poor church in financial terms. The poor presbyteries in the interior get generous support from the few rich congregations, where a majority of members are migrants in the urban areas of Jayapura, Abepura, Sentani, Timika, Biak and Sorong.   

 

c. The Catholics 

The “re-integration” of West Papua in Indonesia in 1962 caused hardships for the Catholic Mission. There was a conflict about the Indonesian demand to hand over its schools to become government schools. The mission, with success, resisted an effort at the take-over of the Teacher Training College in Merauke. However, when Fr. J. Smit in Agats refused to handover his schools, he was executed on the spot, by Fimbay, the Indonesian district officer. In 1964 all missionaries had to go to Java, for what they called themselves an “indoctrination course.” They were taught there the official state ideology of Panca Sila. In 1963 Fak-Fak joined the Apostolic Prefecture of Manokwari. The Sisters from Tienray established clinics and a hospital in Senopi and Ayawassi. In 1969 a Catholic Academy for Theology (ATK) was established in Abepura with a four years course for pastoral workers and a seven years program for priests. In 1972 it had 38 students. In the same year six Indonesian Franciscan friars joined the Dutch. They began work in Wamena, together with two Papuan Franciscans. In that year two brothers from the Society for the Divine Word (SVD) from East Flores joined the mission to work in Merauke and in Manokwari. Javanese priests worked as a Director of the Roman Catholic Centre and as army chaplains. When the Dutch Franciscan Herman (Yanuarius) Munninghoff OFM became bishop of Jayapura, the diocese had 31,560 Roman Catholics of which 23,000 in Paniai, Mimika and Akimuga. The diocese of Manokwari had then 10,753 and the diocese of Merauke about 90,000 Catholics.

 

(Arch)diocese

(Arch)bishop-birthplace)

Catholics

 Population

%

Merauke

Nicolaus Adi Seputra MSC (Purwokerto, Java)

135,000

220,000

58

Jayapura

Leo Laba Ladjar OFM (Bauraja, Flores, NTT)

45,000

840,000

5

Manokwari/Sorong

Datus Lega  (Kupang, West Timor, NTT)

55,000

560,000

10

Agats

Aloysius Murwito OFM  (Sleman-Yogya, Java)

50,000

71,000

70

Timika

John Philip Saklil (Kokonao, Papua)

72,000

520,000

14

West Papua

 

357,000

2,568,000

14

           

Table III: The Roman Catholic Church in West Papua (2004 figures)

(source: http://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/diocese/djaya.html)

 

d. Other mission activity and the search for “unreached” tribes and peoples

In this period there is an increased activity by American, Australian and conservative protestant Dutch missions. These, generally speaking have a vertical view of salvation. One abstains from political involvement. They moved into areas not yet served by the Reformed and the Catholic missions. These were from America the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CAMA), the Regions Beyond Missionary Union (RBMU), The Missions Fellowship (TMF) and the Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM) and from Australia the Unevangelized Field Mission (UFM), the Australian Baptist Mission Society (ABMS) and the Asia Pacific Christian Mission (APCM). Many of these missions are strongly anti-Catholic, which led to several religious conflicts. TMF was established in 1963 as a form practical co-operation between CAMA, UFM, RBMU, ABMS and MAF, while ZGK, NRC and APCM became associate members. The Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) provided since 1954 air services for these missions to reach the remote places where they had started work. Without MAF the expansion of so many missions in very remote areas would not have been possible as often the air connection is virtually the only way to reach these places. MAF also established a radio network, connecting the various mission posts with each other and with the coast. By the 1980s it served 230 air strips of which 175 were visited regularly. It employed 14 pilots and technicians. The Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) entered West Papua in 1972 with the purpose to study Papua languages, help with literacy work, agricultural development and the translation of the Bible. SIL worked together with the state University Cenderawasih (Uncen) in Jayapura. It is active in 26 languages. In 1994 it employed 84 expatriate missionaries from America, South Korea, Germany and Holland. Half of these work as translators. 

 

In 1963 the CAMA congregations became independent of the CAMA mission to become the Tabernacle Gospel Christian Church Kemah Injil Gereja Masehi di  Indonesia  (KINGMI), later renamed to the Evangelical Tabernacle Church in Indonesia (Gereja Kemah Injili di Indonesia, hence GKII). The new church sent its own evangelists to the Wolani and Moni tribes. In 1964 the New Testament appeared in the Me language. In the 1970s, however, came the real breakthrough with mass conversions. In 1977 and 1978 there was a rising of the Dani in the Baliem. 50,000 Dani warriors, armed with spears and bows and arrows marched on to Wamena. They were met by Indonesian soldiers armed with machineguns. They pursued the Danis into the Western Dani area. Those who fled to the mountains and forests were machine gunned from the air using Bronco air planes. The Indonesian army also used traditional believers to attack Christian villages to suppress the rising. Thousands were killed in this rebellion. This was a traumatic experience with foreign intrusion into the ancient culture of the Baliem Valley.

 

 

baptized members

Papuan ministers

1961

8,319

82

1971

23,261

523

1988

59,382

1,200

1998

150,000

1,616

 

Table IV: The GKII, 1961-1998

 

The Australian UFM entered West Papua in 1950. It worked in Sengge and the Habifluri valley near Lake Archbold, where it established the Bokondini mission post in 1956. In 1962 it had its first baptism in Kelila. The American UFM established a mission post in Wolo in 1957. In 1966 it began work among the Ilukwa population and in 1968 among the Nggem. It established a hospital in Mulia, with a school for nurses. Here many mission posts were destroyed by people opposing Indonesian occupation. The RBMU started work in 1957 in Karubaga in the Swart Valley. In 1961 it worked in the eastern highlands in Ninia and Karopun and in the southern coastal area among the Yali of Seng (Yalimo area). In 1972 there were 21,000 converts, 100 congregations, over 30 missionaries and 176 Papuan church leaders. The UFM, the RBMU and the APCM worked closely together. They formed the Evangelical Church in Irian Jaya, the Gereja Injili di Irian Jaya, hence GIDI, in 1973. In 1998 the GIDI had 178,000 members, 364 churches and 1,144 ministers or evangelists.

The ABMS began mission work in 1956 in Tiom. From there it extended work to Magi in cooperation by local Papuans. Mission work included besides the bible school, literacy work, medical training and carpentry training. In 1976 the Baptist Church of Irian Jaya (Gereja Baptis Irian Jaya, hence GBIJ) became independent of the mission. In 1998 it had about 75,000 members, 110 posts and 86 Papuan teachers or ministers.   

 

The Mission of the Reformed Congregations in the Netherlands and North America (Zending der Gereformeerde Gemeenten in Nederland en Noord-Amerika, ZGG, also called the Netherlands Reformed Congregation, hence NRC) began work in Pass Valley or Abenaho in the Yali area with Rev. Gerrit Kuyt, a nurse and a teacher’s couple in 1962. In 1971 it extended work to Nipsan (1971). In 1973 the APCM transferred the Tri valley to the NRC. Jan Louwerse opened here the post Langda in the Una speaking area. The Una people in the Eastern Highlands had a sudden, conversion in the period 1973 to 1980, similar to that of the Danis in the Baliem in the same period. The Una people associated the European missionaries coming into the area as associated with the spirit world because of their pale skin. The newcomers who brought the Gospel used supernatural means of transport (a helicopter) and the tools, like steel exes, machetes and knives, the outsiders brought with them were perceived as superior. Finally, some authoritative Una people had dreamt that pale skinned people would come to them and do well. These factors played a role while there was at the same time a spiritual crisis. The first village to be converted was Langda. The people in this village were considered the underdogs in the war with the village of Loryi in the Northern Ei valley. The frequent earthquakes in that period may also have had an impact.[14] Out of this mission work the Protestant Congregation Church in Indonesia (Gereja Jemaat Protestan di Indonesia, hence GJPI) emerged. From 1986 the GJPI worked in the Momina area. In several of these areas conversion took place in the form of mass burnings of fetishes. 

 

Rev. Meeuwes Drost opened in 1958 on behalf of the Mission of the Reformed Churches (Zending van de Gereformeerde Kerken, hence ZGK) a mission post in Kouh in the Bomakia area of the Upper Digul River in the Merauke Regency. In 1968 20 adults and 7 children were baptized. In 1971 it started work among the Citak people on the river Ndeiran and among the Kombai on the Wanggemalo river. The ZGK also worked in South Digul where the Roman Catholic Mission is at work in Butiptiri, Kaisah, Getentri, Merauke and Semaligga. In 1972 a Central Bible School was established in Boma. In 1976 contacts were made with the Reformed Churches in East Sumba. Both established then the Reformed Churches in Indonesia (Gereja-Gereja Reformasi di Indonesia, GGRI). Since 1980 all the medical and educational work is done by the Foundation for the Building of Reformed Service or Yayasan Pembinaan Pelayanan Reformasi, YAPPER). In 1982 the first Papuan minister, Rev Rumi, was ordained. By 1984 there were 2,086 baptized members, 56 places of worship with Papuan teachers and two Papuan ministers.  In 1986 the first church elders were inaugurated in the congregation of Kouh

 

The GKI, encouraged by these mission activities and aided by the German Rheinische Missions Gesellschaft (RMG) began in 1960 mission work among the Dani of Kurima and Mugwi and under the Yali of Yalimo (Angguruk and Apahapsili).  Rev Siegfried Zöllner (German United Evangelical Mission, VEM) and medical doctor Wim Vriend (Dutch Netherlands Reformed Mission, ZNHK) acted as the pioneer missionaries here. The GKI had  established a congregation in Wamena, led by Rev. Zeth Rumere, to serve their members working there as policemen, army personnel and civil servants, immediately when Wamena had been established as a government post for the Baliem Valley in 1956. The congregation also served the Dani’s working in the town. These Dani became the evangelists for their fellow Dani’s in th Baliem valley. After 1968 Dani and Yali villages began to accept Christianity. Conversion was preceded in most cases by the ritual of the burning of their fetishes of traditional religion. The first baptism was in 1972 in the Yali village of  Angguruk and in 1974 in the Dani village of Polimo. By 2004 the presbytery of Balim-Yalimo was the largest of the GKI, with 30,000 members.

 

d. Independent churches and the development of a people’s theology

A number of independent church movements was active in this period. Most of these are small and only locally active. In Sorong lives Ambrosius Fatie who calls himself Tuan Jesus. He has 12 female disciples and about 50-100 followers. He is preaching West Papua as the place where the Garden of Eden used to be. The Papuans have a special place in God’s creation order. In West Yapen there is a congregation, which calls itself New GKI, which has associations with the koreri movement. By 2000 the woodcarver Micha Ronsumbre had started on Biak a church with the name koreri. There is a lot of prayers and singing by church choirs. Micha is a woodcarver, who carves korwar wood carvings to honour the ancestral spirits. These movements could be seen as a legitimate response of the Papuans just as the African Initiated Churches are now seen in this perspective. The Government was very rash to accuse these movements of political rebellion, separatism or treason. In April 2004 for instance Mathias Furima who has established himself as a prophet (“Jesus”) in the Bintuni area was shot by the police, accused of being a member of the Papuan Freedom Army (Tentara Papua Merdeka, TPM). Two of his female disciples were killed.

 

From the grassroots a true liberation theology developed. This is more a movement, without a particular structure than an organization. It is often described as aspiration for freedom movement, Gerakan Aspirasi Merdeka, or even only as Aspirasi “M”). Political events were interpreted using metaphors from the Bible. The Papuan people were identified with the people of Israel, in the Old Testament. As Israel had been for 40 years in the desert, so the Papuans had to be 40 years in the desert of the Indonesian occupation, before they would enter the Promised Land, that is get merdeka (freedom or independence). When a team of 100 went in February 1999 to President Habibie to demand independence, they were like Moses demanding freedom for Israel from pharaoh. Theys Eluay, the Chairman of the Presidium of the Papuan Council (PDP), who had worked for the Indonesians in the 1960s and 1970s to identify anti-Indonesian Papuans, and to realize a pro-Indonesian vote in the Act of Free Choice, was like Moses, who also first had worked for pharaoh, the enemy of Israel. The Papuans are compared with Jonah, who is swallowed by a big fish, which is Indonesia. In the end the fish will spit out Jonah. Jesus is seen as the King of the Papuans, who will deliver them from evil and bring them freedom. The Lord gives special blessings to the Papuans as they remain faithful Christians in a country with the majority Muslims. The Muslims are punished with a financial crisis, with disasters like earthquakes, forest fires and plane and boat accidents. At the protests at the funeral of Thomas Wanggay in the beginning of 1996, when the army did not allow students to carry his coffin from Abepura to Jayapura, the road was blocked by laying large stones in the form of crosses on the road. Students sang the hymn: “Onwards Christian Soldiers.” Many shops in the centre of Abepura and the pasar were burned. However, shopkeepers, who could show a copy of the Bible, were saved. 

 

With the fall of Soeharto on Ascension Day 1998 (“Yesus naik, Soeharto turun”, “The rise of Jesus, the fall of Soeharto” according to the Papuans) and the establishment of more democratic institutions and a greater freedom of opinion in the whole of Indonesia, the Church got more freedom, together with the challenge to give spiritual guidance to the Papuans in their movement for freedom. The churches were challenged to define a new role of leadership in society, relatively independent of the government and Golkar Party. The movement for freedom is called the movement for “aspirasi M”, the longing for “freedom”, merdeka. Papuans claim their right to exist and their right to freedom and independence. Real people’s theologies emerge. Papuans have a black skin, curly hair, they are Christians, and have a separate identity, separate from the “Indonesians”, who are called  “amber” or people with a “white” skin, straight hair, who practice the Moslem religion.

 

e. Religion, politics and human rights

Flag raising ceremonies with the forbidden Morning Star flag, introduced in 1961 for the new state of West Papua, started in Biak in July 1999. This was severely suppressed with numerous casualties. In December 1999, initiated by Theys Eluay, there were all over West Papua flag raising ceremonies, all peaceful, to celebrate the first flag raising of the Morning Star flag on 1 December 1961 and to remember the victims of Indonesian oppression. All of these ceremonies, including the later ones in the course of 2000 at Timika, Nabire, Sorong, Manokwari and Wamena, and other places were at the same time religious ceremonies, with prayers, hymn singing, and sermons. The ceremonies on 1 December 1999 were allowed, but from that time the army and the mobile brigade of the police began to suppress all these manifestations of the desire to be free, very severely. There were so many casualties each time the police or the army intervened that Papuans began to speak about “Bloody Biak”, “Bloody Nabire”, and “Bloody Timika” as each time there were human casualties when the army or the police tried to lower the Morning Star flag.

To establish peace and order and to prevent the outbreak of religious conflicts as in neighbouring Ambon in 1999 Theys Eluay introduced the idea of the Pos Komando Papua (Posko Papua). These Command Posts were distributed all over the province and manned by Papuan youth dressed in a black T shirt and black trousers, so called Satgas (Satuan Tugas or task force). These took effectively over the maintenance of law and order in the province, till December 2000 when they were forbidden by the police. Christian prayers and hymns were part of the rituals of the flag raising and of the activities of the Satgas Papua at the Poskos. 

 

When in 2001 Rev. Bennie Giay, lecturer at the Theological College Walter Post, and Br. Theo van den Broek OFM tried to mediate in the kidnapping of two Belgian travelers in the Star Mountains, they were received as representatives of the Tabernacle Church and the Roman Catholic Church. In an official ceremony the Papuans there gave them officially back the Gospel, symbolized by the Bible. In their opinion the Gospel had only brought them misery. With the Gospel also the Indonesian army and Freeport had entered and taken away their freedom. In their view these were one complex. They saw that the chairman of the Evangelical Tabernacle Church (GKII) got large sums of money as an advisor of Freeport Company. Freeport gave visiting missionaries money to convert the Papuans to make them acquiesce with Indonesian rule and to give up their resistance. By rejecting collaboration of the church they showed an exegesis of the Gospel consonant with that of liberation theology.

 

Already before the relatively greater freedom since 1998 the churches protested in a quiet and careful way against human rights violations taking place in West Papua. In April 1992 the Evangelical Christian Church (GKI) published a report, based on observations by church members, elders and ministers, of serious human rights violations. This so-called Blue Book, because of its cover, was handed to the Fellowship of Indonesian Churches (PGI) for inclusion in the assembly papers of the Assembly of the PGI to take place in Jayapura in 1995. However, the PGI refused to take action on the report and when the government got the wind of it the board of synod was severely reprimanded. In December 1992 the military commander of Irian Jaya / Maluku branded the Church as a certain organization which wants to break the unity of Indonesia and does not want to see progress.[15] In 1995 Bishop Herman Munninghoff of the Diocese of Jayapura, courageously, made an official complaint about serious human rights violations in Timika to the newly established National Committee for Human Rights (Komnas HAM), established by Soeharto. This made it difficult to accuse the Bishop of separatism or treason. Komnas HAM took up the issue and Munninghoff’s report got international attention.

 

f. Interchurch cooperation

Following the report of the Jayapura Diocese the Evangelical Christian Church (GKI), the Roman Catholic Church and the Evangelical Tabernacle Church (GKII), established in January 1996 Elsham, which in a professional way investigates human rights violations and reports on them. It has build up a network of people it trained to report human rights violations all over the province. The GKI established a separate department of Law and Human Rights (Hukum dan HAM), which makes its own investigations into human rights violations. The Roman Catholic Church established the Justice and Peace Department, headed by Br. Theo van den Broek OFM.

 

In July 1998 the three largest churches, the GKI, Roman Catholic and the GKII set up Foreri, the Forum for Reconciliation in Irian Jaya.[16] This was charged by the Indonesian Secretary of State under President Habibie to organize a national dialogue. This led to the meeting of the “Team of 100” asking freedom from President Habibie in February 1999. Elsham employees as well as the board of synod have been threatened when they made critical reports on activities of army and police. The army and the police threatened them to bring them to court on the accusation of defamation (“fitnah”). When reporting on human rights violations of the army and police you spoil the good reputation of the security forces. This is a crime according to Indonesian law. The director of Elsham was interrogated for 24 hours after making a report on the police attack on the dormitories of students from Paniai and the Baliem in Abepura in December 2000, which led to a great number of casualties, three of them fatal. The chairman and the secretary of synod of the GKI were interrogated by the army after a report on Betaw of the Legal and Human Rights Department of the synod. In Betaw a teacher was kidnapped, who then “disappeared”. The commander of the Kopassus forced the GKI to change the word “Kopassus” as the likely perpetrators into “an unidentified group.” 

 

Some oil companies are aiming at “co-operative security” or “community security”. By investing in community facilities and involving locals in decision-making, companies can get the people living and working around a facility on their side, reducing the risk of raids on their pipelines – and providing early warnings of potential threats. Using this concept BP p.l.c.  invited among others church leaders at a conference and offered them to become paid advisers of the company. Rev. Hermann Saud, the synod chairman of the GKI since 1996, accepted the offer. This strengthened his bargaining position as he could play the company out against the Indonesian government and the army, which exerts strong pressure on him. He pleaded with BP for a privileged treatment of the Papuans, for special educational and training facilities for local people, and on a moratorium for migrant workers from other islands.[17]

 

Religion

1971[18]

%

1980

%

1992

%

2002

%

Protestants

414,515[19]

56

708,279

61

961,466

56

1,300,000

56

Roman Catholics

 

19

256,279

22

408,574

24

531,700

23

Islam

 

22

132,930

11

335,412

20

440,900

19

Other

 

3

67,711

6

5,561

0

n/a

2

Total

 

100

1,165,199

100

1,711,013

100

2,300,000

100

 

Table V: Some data on religion in West Papua

 

(source: Irian Jaya Dalam Angka, Kantor Statistik Irian Jaya, Jayapura)[20]

 

Conclusion

The Church has been a major factor in the developing of a Papuan identity. It helped to open the territory and to mediate in the influences that shaped the future of the Papuans in the area of education, health services and political development. The Church is in an ambivalent position. After the forced integration with Indonesia the church helped to ease the difficulties of the transition, which a majority of Papuans saw as the robbing of their legitimate right to self determination. In the new dispensation there was a great influx of migrants. It can be estimated that one quarter of the new migrants, that is over 200,000, are Christians.  The Church has helped these newcomers to get integrated into Papuan society.

 

However, after the fall of Soeharto in 1998 and the start of the era of “reformasi” and democratization, the Church remains in a precarious position as the military and the police do not want to give up their privileged position and hand over power to elected bodies. The Church is threatened by the army and the police when it pleads for peace and reconciliation and when it calls for an end to human right violations. It is pressured to move to a very vertical theology, ignoring the problem of an unbalanced form of development, and of the progressive disenfranchisement of the Papuans. If the church leaders follow such a “security theology” they are rewarded with posts in parliament or government. However, threats, including anonymous death threats continue. The murder of Theys Eluay on 10 November 2001, Heroes Day, was traumatic, as Theys was considered very close to the Kopassus “elite” troops and the top brass of army and police. If even Theys could not save himself by extensive collaboration, who else could be saved, and no promise of protection or reward from the side of army and police could be trusted. Since that fateful day the government and paramilitary groups have stepped up their action to counter the political aspirations of the Papuans and to protect the Indonesian economic and political interests in the area.
In the middle of 2002 the Laskar Jihad, notorious for its use of violence in furthering its aims of the islamisation of Ambon, Halmahera and Posso, Central Sulawesi, opened an office in Timika. The Laskar Jihad operates in collusion with members of the security forces.

 

The churches have responded by supporting fully the idea of the Papuan nationalists of creating a Papuan peace zone and restricting oneself to non-violent action methods. The churches have tried to find more unity among themselves in view of the threat of a similar provocation of violence as took place in Ambon in the beginning of 1999. In February 2003, on the occasion of the celebration of the coming of the Gospel, the churches decided to form a Papua Chapter of the Communion of Churches (PGI), with Rev. Hermann Saud as its chairperson. This includes Baptists, Evangelicals and Pentecostals, but not the Roman Catholics. With the Catholic Church there is cooperation in the area of human rights action.

 

Bibliography

http://www.papuaweb.org/sitemap.html

Boelaars, J. 1991. Met Papoea’s samen op weg. Deel 1: De pioniers. Het begin van een missie, Kampen: Kok (Series Kerk en Theologie in Context, Vol. 18)

Boelaars, J. 1995. Met Papoea’s samen op weg. Deel 2: De baanbrekers. Het openleggen van het binnenland, Kampen: Kok (Series Kerk en Theologie in Context, Vol. 31)

Boelaars, J. 1997. Met Papoea’s samen op weg. Deel 3: De begeleiders. Kampen: Kok (Series Kerk en Theologie in Context, Vol. 35)

Cornelissen, J. F. L. M. 1988. Pater en Papoea. Ontmoeting van de Missionarissen van het Heilig Hart met de cultuur der Papoea’s van Nederlands Zuid-Nieuw Guinea (1905-1963), Kampen: Kok (Series Kerk en Theologie in Context, vol. 1)

De Neef, Alb. J. Heidendom op Nieuw Guinea, Oegstgeest: Het Zendingbureau

Giay, Benny 1995. Zakheus Pakage and His Communities, Amsterdam: Free University Press (Ph.D. Thesis)

Giay, Benny 1999. The Conversion of Weakebo. A Big Man of the Me Community in the 1930s, in: The Journal of Pacific History, 34, 2

GKI dalam arus-pokok masa kini. Sidang Synode Umum GKI ke-V pada tgl 15-27 Oktober 1968 di Sukarnopura, diterbitkan oleh Dinas Penerangana, Propinsi Irian Barat, Sukarnopura (GKI, 1968)

Haripranata SJ (ed) 1967. Ichtisar Kronologis Sedjarah Geredja Katolik Irian-Barat, Djilid 1, Sukarnapura: Pusat Katolik, Idem: Djilid 2, 1969 and Djilid 3, 1970

Hayward, Douglas J. 1980. The Dani of Irian Jaya. Before and After Conversion, Sentani: Regions Press

Ipenburg, A. N. 1999. Een Kerk van Migranten; Een Kerk van het Volk. Tegenstellingen in Irian Jaya, in: Wereld en Zending, 28, 4: 78-82

Ipenburg, A. N. 2001. Melanesian Conversion, in: Missionalia, 29, 3: 

Kamma, F. C. 1953. Kruis en Korwar. Een Honderdjarig Vraagstuk op Nieuw Guinea, Den Haag: Voorhoeve

Kamma, F. C. 1972.  Koreri. Messianic Movements in the Biak-Numfor Culture Area, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1972.

Kamma, F. C. 1976. “Dit Wonderlijke Werk,” Het Probleem van de Communicatie tussen Oost en West Gebaseerd op de Ervaringen in het Zendingswerk op Nieuw Guinea (Irian Jaya) 1855-1972. Een Socio-missiologische Benadering,  2 vols, Oegstgeest: Raad voor de Zending der Ned. Hervormde Kerk

Lewis, Rodger 1995. Karya Kristus di Indonesia. Sejarah Gereja Kemah Injil Indonesia Sejak 1930, Bandung: Kalam Hidup, 1995

Neilson, David John 2000. Christianity in Irian (West Papua), Ph. D. Thesis, University of Sydney, Australia (unpublished)

Rauws, J. 1919. Nieuw-Guinea, Den Haag: Zendingsstudieraad (Serie: Onze Zendingsvelden)

Rumaimum, F. J. S. 1966. Sepuluh Tahun G.K.I. Sesuduh Seratus Tahun Zending di Irian Barat, Soekarnapura: GKI

Sawor, Zacharias 1969. Ik ben een Papua, Een getuigeverslag van de toestanden in Westelijk Nieuw Guinea sinds de gezagsoverdracht op 1 October 1962, Groningen: De Vuurbaak

Sejarah Gereja Katolik Indonesia, Jilid 3A, 1974. Jakarta: Bagian Dokumentasi Penerangan KWI

Slump, F. 1935. De Zending op West-Nieuw-Guinee, Oegstgeest: Zendingsbureau (reprint from ‘Mededelingen.’ Tijdschrift voor Zendingswetenschap). 

Sunda, James 1963. Church Growth in the Central Highlands of West New Guinea, Lucknow: Lucknow Publishing House

Tanamal, Goeroe Laurens 1952. De Roepstem Volgend. Autobiografie van Goeroe Laurens Tanamal,.(tr. and ed. by F. C. Kamma) , Den Haag: Voorhoeve (Serie: Lichtstralen op de Akker der Wereld, 53, 2)

Timmer, Jaap, 2000. Living with Intricate Futures. Order and Confusion in Imyan Worlds, Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Ph. D. Thesis, Catholic University Nijmegen (Centre for Pacific and Asian Studies)

Trompf, G. W. 1991. Melanesian Religion, Cambridge: University Press

Ukur, F. and F. L. Cooley  1977. Suatu Survey Mengenai Gereja Kristen Irian Jaya, (Serie: Benih Yang Tumbuh 8), Jakara: DGI

Van den Broek, OFM, Theo P. A. (et. al.) 2001. Memoria Passionis di Papua. Kondisi Sosial Politik dan Hak Asasi Manusia Gambaran 2000, Jakarta: Sekretariat Keadilan dan Perdamaian (SKP) Keuskupan Jayapura and Lembaga Studi Pers dan Pembangunan (LSPP)

Van Baal, J. 1966. Dema. Description and Analysis of Marind-Anim Culture (South New Guinea) (with the collaboration of Fr. J. Verschueren MSC), The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff

Van Hasselt, F. J. F. 1926. In het Land van de Papoea’s, Utrecht: Kemink & Zoon

Vlasblom, Dirk. 2004. Papoea. Een geschiedenis, Amsterdam: Mets & Schilt

Vreugdenhil, C. G. 1991. Vreemdelingen en Huisgenoten, Houten: Den Hertog



[1]http://www.ethnologue.com (Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 14th Ed).  In education and in public life Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia) is becoming dominant.

[2]  The magnum opus of Van Baal “Dema” proves the complexity and range of depth of the traditional religion of the Marind-anim.

[3] 1 Guilder contained then 9.45 gram silver. Dfl 50 would then amount to about US $ 2,500 in current prices.

[4] See A. Russell Wallace, 1869. The Malay Archipelago, also at: http://www.papuaweb.org/dlib/bk/wallace/papuan.html#xxxiv

[5]  J. L. Van Hasselt and his wife established themselves with Jaesrech in Doreh. In 1871 they went to Mansinam, where they remained till 1907 when J. L. retired. Th. F. Klaassen and his wife left in 1864 for Halmahera. W. Otterspoor returned to the Netherlands in the same year. 

[6] Pastors are Ambonese, Sangirese or Papuans by origin, while missionaries are Dutch or German expatriates.

[7] The complex relationship between traditional religion, the various forms of Christianity introduced by the missions and the new religious movement led by Zakheus Pakage is in a very understanding way analyzed by the Mee anthropologist and religious leader Dr Benny Giay in his doctoral thesis (Benny Giay, 1995).

[8] Z. Sawor, 1969: 40-45, quoting a Report by Silas Papare, member of the People’s Congress, Jakarta, 13 March 1967. Zacharias Sawor studied tropical agriculture in Deventer, the Netherlands, till 1962. He was treasurer of Parkindo, West Irian Section, from 1963 till 1965. He was in prison from August 1965 till August 1966. In June 1967 he fled to Australian New Guinea. Since October 1968 he lives in the Netherlands.

[9]  Z. Sawor, 1969: 49, quoting a Report of the Command of the Regional Police XXL, West Irian, First Quarter 1966, by Drs. Soejoko, Chief of Staff Secret Intelligence Service, Soekarnopoera, 26 June 1966. The quotation is: “… ditembak mati dengan tjara yang tidak kentara oleh anggota2 dari daerah Indonesia sendiri. Hingga hal ini tidak dapat dimengertikan oleh pihak penduduk daerah Irian Barat sendiri.” 

[10] His father, Baldus Mofu, a teacher and former member of the Nieuw Guinea Raad, died in 1979 while in military custody.

[11] Indonesia used the musyawarah system, an indirect voting system, not the one man one vote system. Military pressure assured that there was not a single vote against integration of West Papuan into the Indonesian Republic..  

[12]  GKI, 1968: 37-42. Rev. Tjakraatmadja was a member of staff of the General Meeting of Synod of the GKI. (BPSU). He later became the Rector of the Theological College I. S. Kijne of the GKI. He was a Sundanese. He issaid to have protected GKI ministers when they were under suspicion by the army after many  Papuans had expressed disappointment with the way the Act of Free Choice was organized.

[13] Rev. Hermann Saud in a meeting with prof. Gerrie ter Haar and author at the synod office, October 2001.

[14] I am indebted to Dr. Dick Kroneman (SIL), NRC missionary and SIL translator, for this analysis.

[15] Tifa Irian, December 1992, in Benny Giay, 2001

[16] There is a wink at the concept of “koreri”, which denotes the salvation offered in traditional religion of the people of Biak, Numfor and other places around the Cenderawasih Bay.

[17] Personal communication to author, Abepura, March 2002.

[18]  Based on a census of 150,786 people in urban areas only.

[19] Of these 331,376 (76 %) GKI.

[20]  These figures are based on the national census and on samples. The figures differ from the statistics the churches themselves keep about membership, as they may define membership in a different way.

(source: Irian Jaya Dalam Angka, Kantor Statistik Irian Jaya, Jayapura)[20]

 

Conclusion

The Church has been a major factor in the developing of a Papuan identity. It helped to open the territory and to mediate in the influences that shaped the future of the Papuans in the area of education, health services and political development. The Church is in an ambivalent position. After the forced integration with Indonesia the church helped to ease the difficulties of the transition, which a majority of Papuans saw as the robbing of their legitimate right to self determination. In the new dispensation there was a great influx of migrants. It can be estimated that one quarter of the new migrants, that is over 200,000, are Christians.  The Church has helped these newcomers to get integrated into Papuan society.

 

However, after the fall of Soeharto in 1998 and the start of the era of “reformasi” and democratization, the Church remains in a precarious position as the military and the police do not want to give up their privileged position and hand over power to elected bodies. The Church is threatened by the army and the police when it pleads for peace and reconciliation and when it calls for an end to human right violations. It is pressured to move to a very vertical theology, ignoring the problem of an unbalanced form of development, and of the progressive disenfranchisement of the Papuans. If the church leaders follow such a “security theology” they are rewarded with posts in parliament or government. However, threats, including anonymous death threats continue. The murder of Theys Eluay on 10 November 2001, Heroes Day, was traumatic, as Theys was considered very close to the Kopassus “elite” troops and the top brass of army and police. If even Theys could not save himself by extensive collaboration, who else could be saved, and no promise of protection or reward from the side of army and police could be trusted. Since that fateful day the government and paramilitary groups have stepped up their action to counter the political aspirations of the Papuans and to protect the Indonesian economic and political interests in the area.
In the middle of 2002 the Laskar Jihad, notorious for its use of violence in furthering its aims of the islamisation of Ambon, Halmahera and Posso, Central Sulawesi, opened an office in Timika. The Laskar Jihad operates in collusion with members of the security forces.

 

The churches have responded by supporting fully the idea of the Papuan nationalists of creating a Papuan peace zone and restricting oneself to non-violent action methods. The churches have tried to find more unity among themselves in view of the threat of a similar provocation of violence as took place in Ambon in the beginning of 1999. In February 2003, on the occasion of the celebration of the coming of the Gospel, the churches decided to form a Papua Chapter of the Communion of Churches (PGI), with Rev. Hermann Saud as its chairperson. This includes Baptists, Evangelicals and Pentecostals, but not the Roman Catholics. With the Catholic Church there is cooperation in the area of human rights action.

Bibliography

http://www.papuaweb.org/sitemap.html

Boelaars, J. 1991. Met Papoea’s samen op weg. Deel 1: De pioniers. Het begin van een missie, Kampen: Kok (Series Kerk en Theologie in Context, Vol. 18)

Boelaars, J. 1995. Met Papoea’s samen op weg. Deel 2: De baanbrekers. Het openleggen van het binnenland, Kampen: Kok (Series Kerk en Theologie in Context, Vol. 31)

Boelaars, J. 1997. Met Papoea’s samen op weg. Deel 3: De begeleiders. Kampen: Kok (Series Kerk en Theologie in Context, Vol. 35)

Cornelissen, J. F. L. M. 1988. Pater en Papoea. Ontmoeting van de Missionarissen van het Heilig Hart met de cultuur der Papoea’s van Nederlands Zuid-Nieuw Guinea (1905-1963), Kampen: Kok (Series Kerk en Theologie in Context, vol. 1)

De Neef, Alb. J. Heidendom op Nieuw Guinea, Oegstgeest: Het Zendingbureau

Giay, Benny 1995. Zakheus Pakage and His Communities, Amsterdam: Free University Press (Ph.D. Thesis)

Giay, Benny 1999. The Conversion of Weakebo. A Big Man of the Me Community in the 1930s, in: The Journal of Pacific History, 34, 2

GKI dalam arus-pokok masa kini. Sidang Synode Umum GKI ke-V pada tgl 15-27 Oktober 1968 di Sukarnopura, diterbitkan oleh Dinas Penerangana, Propinsi Irian Barat, Sukarnopura (GKI, 1968)

Haripranata SJ (ed) 1967. Ichtisar Kronologis Sedjarah Geredja Katolik Irian-Barat, Djilid 1, Sukarnapura: Pusat Katolik, Idem: Djilid 2, 1969 and Djilid 3, 1970

Hayward, Douglas J. 1980. The Dani of Irian Jaya. Before and After Conversion, Sentani: Regions Press

Ipenburg, A. N. 1999. Een Kerk van Migranten; Een Kerk van het Volk. Tegenstellingen in Irian Jaya, in: Wereld en Zending, 28, 4: 78-82

Ipenburg, A. N. 2001. Melanesian Conversion, in: Missionalia, 29, 3:

Kamma, F. C. 1953. Kruis en Korwar. Een Honderdjarig Vraagstuk op Nieuw Guinea, Den Haag: Voorhoeve

Kamma, F. C. 1972.  Koreri. Messianic Movements in the Biak-Numfor Culture Area, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1972.

Kamma, F. C. 1976. “Dit Wonderlijke Werk,” Het Probleem van de Communicatie tussen Oost en West Gebaseerd op de Ervaringen in het Zendingswerk op Nieuw Guinea (Irian Jaya) 1855-1972. Een Socio-missiologische Benadering,  2 vols, Oegstgeest: Raad voor de Zending der Ned. Hervormde Kerk

Lewis, Rodger 1995. Karya Kristus di Indonesia. Sejarah Gereja Kemah Injil Indonesia Sejak 1930, Bandung: Kalam Hidup, 1995

Neilson, David John 2000. Christianity in Irian (West Papua), Ph. D. Thesis, University of Sydney, Australia (unpublished)

Rauws, J. 1919. Nieuw-Guinea, Den Haag: Zendingsstudieraad (Serie: Onze Zendingsvelden)

Rumaimum, F. J. S. 1966. Sepuluh Tahun G.K.I. Sesuduh Seratus Tahun Zending di Irian Barat, Soekarnapura: GKI

Sawor, Zacharias 1969. Ik ben een Papua, Een getuigeverslag van de toestanden in Westelijk Nieuw Guinea sinds de gezagsoverdracht op 1 October 1962, Groningen: De Vuurbaak

Sejarah Gereja Katolik Indonesia, Jilid 3A, 1974. Jakarta: Bagian Dokumentasi Penerangan KWI

Slump, F. 1935. De Zending op West-Nieuw-Guinee, Oegstgeest: Zendingsbureau (reprint from ‘Mededelingen.’ Tijdschrift voor Zendingswetenschap).

Sunda, James 1963. Church Growth in the Central Highlands of West New Guinea, Lucknow: Lucknow Publishing House

Tanamal, Goeroe Laurens 1952. De Roepstem Volgend. Autobiografie van Goeroe Laurens Tanamal,.(tr. and ed. by F. C. Kamma) , Den Haag: Voorhoeve (Serie: Lichtstralen op de Akker der Wereld, 53, 2)

Timmer, Jaap, 2000. Living with Intricate Futures. Order and Confusion in Imyan Worlds, Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Ph. D. Thesis, Catholic University Nijmegen (Centre for Pacific and Asian Studies)

Trompf, G. W. 1991. Melanesian Religion, Cambridge: University Press

Ukur, F. and F. L. Cooley  1977. Suatu Survey Mengenai Gereja Kristen Irian Jaya, (Serie: Benih Yang Tumbuh 8), Jakara: DGI

Van den Broek, OFM, Theo P. A. (et. al.) 2001. Memoria Passionis di Papua. Kondisi Sosial Politik dan Hak Asasi Manusia Gambaran 2000, Jakarta: Sekretariat Keadilan dan Perdamaian (SKP) Keuskupan Jayapura and Lembaga Studi Pers dan Pembangunan (LSPP)

Van Baal, J. 1966. Dema. Description and Analysis of Marind-Anim Culture (South New Guinea) (with the collaboration of Fr. J. Verschueren MSC), The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff

Van Hasselt, F. J. F. 1926. In het Land van de Papoea’s, Utrecht: Kemink & Zoon

Vlasblom, Dirk. 2004. Papoea. Een geschiedenis, Amsterdam: Mets & Schilt

Vreugdenhil, C. G. 1991. Vreemdelingen en Huisgenoten, Houten: Den Hertog

Notes:


[1] http://www.ethnologue.com (Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 14th Ed).  In education and in public life Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia) is becoming dominant.

[2]  The magnum opus of Van Baal “Dema” proves the complexity and range of depth of the traditional religion of the Marind-anim.

[3] 1 Guilder contained then 9.45 gram silver. Dfl 50 would then amount to about US $ 2,500 in current prices.

[4] See A. Russell Wallace, 1869. The Malay Archipelago, also at: http://www.papuaweb.org/dlib/bk/wallace/papuan.html#xxxiv

[5]  J. L. Van Hasselt and his wife established themselves with Jaesrech in Doreh. In 1871 they went to Mansinam, where they remained till 1907 when J. L. retired. Th. F. Klaassen and his wife left in 1864 for Halmahera. W. Otterspoor returned to the Netherlands in the same year.

[6] Pastors are Ambonese, Sangirese or Papuans by origin, while missionaries are Dutch or German expatriates.

[7] The complex relationship between traditional religion, the various forms of Christianity introduced by the missions and the new religious movement led by Zakheus Pakage is in a very understanding way analyzed by the Mee anthropologist and religious leader Dr Benny Giay in his doctoral thesis (Benny Giay, 1995).

[8]  Z. Sawor, 1969: 40-45, quoting a Report by Silas Papare, member of the People’s Congress, Jakarta, 13 March 1967. Zacharias Sawor studied tropical agriculture in Deventer, the Netherlands, till 1962. He was treasurer of Parkindo, West Irian Section, from 1963 till 1965. He was in prison from August 1965 till August 1966. In June 1967 he fled to Australian New Guinea. Since October 1968 he lives in the Netherlands.

[9]  Z. Sawor, 1969: 49, quoting a Report of the Command of the Regional Police XXL, West Irian, First Quarter 1966, by Drs. Soejoko, Chief of Staff Secret Intelligence Service, Soekarnopoera, 26 June 1966. The quotation is: “… ditembak mati dengan tjara yang tidak kentara oleh anggota2 dari daerah Indonesia sendiri. Hingga hal ini tidak dapat dimengertikan oleh pihak penduduk daerah Irian Barat sendiri.”

[10] His father, Baldus Mofu, a teacher and former member of the Nieuw Guinea Raad, died in 1979 while in military custody.

[11] Indonesia used the musyawarah system, an indirect voting system, not the one man one vote system. Military pressure assured that there was not a single vote against integration of West Papuan into the Indonesian Republic..

[12]  GKI, 1968: 37-42. Rev. Tjakraatmadja was a member of staff of the General Meeting of Synod of the GKI. (BPSU). He later became the Rector of the Theological College I. S. Kijne of the GKI. He was a Sundanese. He is said to have protected GKI ministers when they were under suspicion by the army after many  Papuans had expressed disappointment with the way the Act of Free Choice was organized.

[13]  Rev. Hermann Saud in a meeting with prof. Gerrie ter Haar and author at the synod office, October 2001.

[14] I am indebted to Dr. Dick Kroneman (SIL), NRC missionary and SIL translator, for this analysis.

[15]  Tifa Irian, December 1992, in Benny Giay, 2001

[16]  There is a wink at the concept of “koreri”, which denotes the salvation offered in traditional religion of the people of Biak, Numfor and other places around the Cenderawasih Bay.

[17]  Personal communication to author, Abepura, March 2002.

[18]  Based on a census of 150,786 people in urban areas only.

[19]  Of these 331,376 (76 %) GKI.

[20]  These figures are based on the national census and on samples. The figures differ from the statistics the churches themselves keep about membership, as they may define membership in a different way.

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