Indonesian Bishops Condemn Killing of Catechist in Papua

11/08/2020 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – Last week, Catholic bishops in Indonesia met with government officials to express concern about the violence in Papua province after a Catholic catechist was shot and killed by security forces.

According to Catholic News Agency, Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta, chairman of the Indonesian bishops’ conference, was part of the delegation of three bishops that met with Indonesia’s security minister Mohammad Mahfud MD in Jakarta on Nov. 1.

Rufinus Tigau, 28, was reportedly killed near his home on October 26 by soldiers in Intan Jaya district, Papua province.

Although the army and police insisted that Tigau was a member of the Armed Separatist Criminal Group, Father Marthen Kuayo, apostolic administrator of Timika Diocese, disputed the claim and told UCA News that Tigau was indeed a catechist who served at Jalae Station of St. Michael Bilogai Parish.

At the meeting with the government officials, the bishops expressed their concerns about the situation and hope the government fulfills its promises to decrease violence in Papua. They want Papua to become a land of love, not a war zone.

Fr. Kuayo also added, “This is not the first case that has targeted Catholic Church servants. On Oct. 7, Agustinus Duwitau, another catechist at the Emondi Station, was also shot and is still undergoing treatment.”

“If we just keep quiet with these incidents, I’m afraid it will get worse,” he said.

The restive and resource-rich Papua region of Indonesia is mostly Christian, as opposed to other Muslim-majority regions. In recent years, the separatist movement is met with increased presence of security forces. The tensions between Papuans and the armed forces are high. In the last two months, three Christians were allegedly shot by the soldiers for being tagged as “separatists,” though their churches soon dismissed the claims.